Tour and News

Ogilvy survives bumpy front nine, cruises to Mercedes win

Photo: Fred Vuich/SI

Padraig Harrington made four bogeys and a birdie for a 73.

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Geoff Ogilvy said he'd never played with such a big lead before taking a six-shot cushion into the final round of the Mercedes Championship on Sunday.

He took care of that problem in a hurry.

With bogeys on the first two holes and two more bogeys on seven and eight, Ogilvy dropped to 17 under par, just a shot ahead of Anthony Kim, who birdied the eighth and ninth holes to make the turn in 4-under 32. But Ogilvy righted himself with an eagle on the par-5 ninth and birdied five of his next six holes to seize his fifth Tour win.

"It's a pretty uncomfortable feeling, to be honest with you," Ogilvy said of playing with such a huge lead.

And when it was almost all gone?

"It felt like a normal tournament again," he said.

After moving tee times up to 8 a.m., tournament officials were forced to postpone play for more than two hours after a Sunday-morning thunderstorm. Players finally went off both tees starting at 10:15 a.m. local time.

Ogilvy is known not as a choker but a closer, which made Sunday's first two hours so strange to watch. His ninth-hole eagle and 5-under 32 on the back nine restored order, and Ogilvy signed for a final-round 68 to win by six shots over Davis Love III and Kim, each of whom shot 67.

The winner collects $1.12 million and a new Mercedes-Benz SL550. After also closing 2008 with a win, at the Australian PGA, Ogilvy is expected to move from 11th to sixth in the World Ranking.

"When Geoff plays well it never looks like he's going to hit a bad shot," said his friend Adam Scott, after signing for a final-round 70 that left him 9-under overall, 15 shots back. "He never looks like he's going to be far offline, and I think that's why he does well at the big tournaments, because he plays under control."

Sean O'Hair had the best round of the day, an 8-under 65, to climb to third place.

Ogilvy was asked before the Mercedes what we could expect from him in 2009. He mentioned his close call at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, where he missed a playoff by a shot in November. He mentioned winning the Australian PGA by a stroke, and feeling like a more complete player than he was a year ago.

"And," he added, "I've got no babies due in the next few days."

Ogilvy and wife Juli had their first child, daughter Phoebe Elizabeth, in October 2006, shortly after Ogilvy's improbable U.S. Open victory. Although he collected a career-best seven top-10s in his first season as a dad, Ogilvy went winless in 2007.

Son Jasper Michael arrived January 7, 2008, and Ogilvy missed his first three cuts and was knocked out in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play.

As he did Sunday, though, he quickly righted himself last year, winning the CA Championship at Doral to stop Tiger Woods's seven-tournament win streak.

If Ogilvy's results and offhanded comment are any guide, having kids has taken some getting used to. Ernie Els said basically the same thing at Kapalua last week, that in the middle of getting son Ben diagnosed (autism) and enrolled in a special school in Florida, golf wasn't priority one.

Els shot a 6-under 67 Sunday to tie for sixth place.

What to make of Ogilvy now? He's playing so well the only person capable of stopping Ogilvy is Ogilvy, and even that seems unlikely. He woke up the tournament by beating himself for eight holes Sunday, but it only made the final result more impressive.

 

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