Stenson denies Ogilvy at Accenture Match Play
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 Accenture Match Play Championship | Wrap | 26 Feb 2007
30-year-old Henrik Stenson further confirmed his reputation as a potential future star of the game when he survived a roller coaster final at the Accenture Match Play Championship to edge out the defending champion, Geoff Ogilvy, at the 35th hole. The final score was officially 2&1 but Ogilvy was effectively conceded a fifteen foot putt which, if he had missed, would have meant a 3&1 victory.
Either way Stenson will be a very fatigued golfer tonight having survived some close encounters throughout the course of the week and a period in today’s match where he must have felt his chances had gone.
Stenson eagled the opening hole today and when he was conceded the second hole he was quickly into a two up lead. Ogilvy then got things moving in his direction with birdies at three of the next four holes to move two ahead himself by the 6th but Stenson then added four more birdies to take the lead at the halfway mark.
After going to lunch two down, Ogilvy managed to turn the tables on the Swede when he won five of the first eight holes in the afternoon to move two ahead at that point. Stenson appeared to be losing control but a three putt bogey by Ogilvy at the 9th gave him a win and some hope and he trailed by only one at the three quarter mark. “It was a ridiculous gift to three-putt the ninth,” said Ogilvy later. “I can’t even begin to describe how stupid that was. I didn’t do it on purpose.” Both players then made birdies at the par five 10th after both had played brilliant recovery shots and Ogilvy was still one up.
Ogilvy made another costly mental error when his approach at the 11th from the middle of the fairway flew the green and he took bogey. In the blink of an eye the match was back to square. At the reachable par four 12th both players hit great tee shots only to catch the left hand greenside trap. Stenson was able to make birdie from 7 feet after Ogilvy had missed from a similar range.
At the 13th Ogilvy missed the green left from the fairway but, after an indifferent but difficult chip, holed a great 12 foot putt to save the hole and the difference was still one in favour of Stenson.
At the par three 14th Ogilvy again saved par, this time from the bunker and then from 18 feet after Stenson had two putted from much longer range. Both players made two putt pars at the 15th but Stenson hit a telling blow at the par three 16th when his tee shot finished a foot from the hole. Ogilvy responded well to six feet but he pulled his putt for birdie and he was two down.
The par five 17th was about to confirm the winner. Stenson drove it in the fairway while Ogilvy missed right. Both players could reach the green but Ogilvy found the front left trap. Stenson hit a magnificent wood onto the green but some 50 feet from the hole. Ogilvy’s trap shot was less than memorable and all Stenson now needed to do was to two putt and the title was his irrespective of what Ogilvy did with his 15 foot putt. It was no easy task as the putt had a lot of break and was quick but when he ran it to less than a foot from the hole both players walked to shake hands.
Stenson had recently climbed inside the world top ten for the first time when he defeated a strong field in Dubai and with a win against an even stronger field here he may well find himself inside the top five. It has been a brilliant six months for Stenson winning the BMW International in Germany, the Dubai Classic and now this event to go with his significant role in Europe’s Ryder Cup success. His goal at the start of the year was to work his way into the world top ten but now surely those goals will be reassessed to even more lofty heights, perhaps even a major.
For Ogilvy there will be disappointment in not being able to defend his title and also because he was unable to go on with what had been a promising start to the day. Still the Australian should also end up back inside the top ten in the world as a result of his great week overall and appears on track to repeat some of his heroics of last year. He earns US$800,000 for his efforts.
The playoff for second and third went to Trevor Immelman who overcame a tight early battle in his 18 hole match with Chad Campbell to eventually win 4 & 2.
The tournament has gained a significant increase in acceptance at this new venue. While NBC will not be overexcited with the fact that only one American made the top four, only one top ten player made it past the third round and that the superstars were missing over the latter stages, there is little doubt that the crowd support, especially given the at times cool and blustery weather, was impressive.
The venue seemed more than suitable. The fairways were generous enough with most of the strategy kicking in with the approaches and the need to not short-side your self or find the wrong part of the green. The event will move to a new Nicklaus designed facility in 2009 but all in all the South Course at the Gallery has done its job.
Of the Australians, other than Ogilvy, the biggest story was that of Nick O’Hern who enhanced his reputation in this format by once again surviving and winning a David and Goliath battle against Tiger Woods in round three. That took O’Hern into the quarter finals where he let slip a great opportunity to advance further and perhaps challenge for the title when he bogeyed the last two holes of his quarter final against Stenson. It was hard to watch as Stenson made a miraculous par save at the last to edge out O’Hern who missed from short range.
Aaron Baddeley made it through to the third round where he fell victim to Stenson 4 & 3.
The PGA Tour now heads to Florida for this week’s Honda Classic.
Photo – Anthony Powter