PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Ogilvy And Casey To Meet In Final

February 27, 2009

Ogilvy is the odds on favorite to win while Casey might be characterized as the best player without a victory in the United States.

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) -- Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey drove up to Dove Mountain two weeks ago to play a practice round on the new golf course for the Accenture Match Play Championship.

When they play again Sunday, the stakes will be significantly higher.

Ogilvy made five birdies on the back nine to outlast teenage sensation Rory McIlroy in the quarterfinals, then played his final four holes in 5-under par against Stewart Cink for a 4-and-2 victory to reach the championship match for the third time in four years.

His opponent will be Casey, who has turned in the most dominating performance in the 11-year history of this tournament.

In an All-England semifinal, Casey defeated Ross Fisher, 2 and 1, and will have a chance to become the first Match Play champion to never trail in any match the entire week. Even more astounding is that Casey has led 81 of the 82 holes he has played.

A tournament that no longer has Tiger Woods instead has the best two golfers in match play over the last three years.

Ogilvy is 17-2 in match play dating to his 2006 victory at the Accenture Match Play Championship, the final year it was held at La Costa. That includes a singles victory in the Presidents Cup.

Casey is 16-3-1 in match play around the world, including his 2006 victory at the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, when he never trailed over the final 71 holes of that event.

The only time they have faced each other in match play -- except for games at their home club in Scottsdale, Ariz. -- was two years ago, when Ogilvy scored a 5-and-4 victory in the quarterfinals.

The former U.S. Open champion appears to be hitting his stride.

"That's the best I played all week by a long way today," Ogilvy said.

He had to be sharp against both his opponents on a warm day in the high desert. McIlroy, the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland, kept on Ogilvy's heels the whole match. Ogilvy birdied his last three holes and won only one of them in a 2-and-1 victory.

"He's the real deal," Ogilvy said of a teenager who will rise to No. 15 in the world next week. "This will be the worst ranking he's got for the next 10 years. It's only going to go up, because he's very impressive."

Equally difficult was Cink, who became only the fourth player to reach the semifinals in consecutive years.

Cink, who defeated Ernie Els (2 and 1) in the quarterfinals Saturday morning, was tied with Ogilvy when they reached the par-5 13th hole, where Ogilvy played an exquisite pitch to 5 feet for birdie and Cink had a 12-footer to match him. The putt stopped one turn short.

"That was a body blow," Cink said. "I know it was only one putt, but Geoff got a lot of momentum out of it."

Indeed, Ogilvy birdied the next hole from 12 feet to go 2 up, and then delivered the signature shot of the day. With the air warm and the turf firm from an afternoon sun, he hit 3-wood off the tee on the 343-yard 15th, and smiled as the ball bounced up the edge of the bunkers, onto the green and stopped 6 feet away for eagle.

"Two pretty satisfying guys to beat," Ogilvy said. "And I guess the more satisfying part was I played my best golf in the last few holes of each match, which is really nice."

Cink's loss meant the United States will not have a finalist for only the second time.

Casey had his easiest time of the week in the quarterfinals against Sean O'Hair, who got food poisoning overnight at the worst time. The American played the first two holes so poorly that Casey never had to attempt his 6-foot birdie putt at No. 1 or an 8-foot birdie on the next hole. O'Hair shot 40 on the front nine, falling hopelessly behind as Casey won, 4 and 3.

Fisher defeated Justin Leonard, 2 and 1, in the quarterfinals, but he fell behind from the start against Casey.

Casey was 1-up through 11 holes when Fisher fell apart.

Fisher took four shots to get down from behind the par-5 13th green, and was lucky to escape with a halve when he twice went into the desert around the 14th green and took double bogey. But Casey wouldn't let him back in the match, closing him out with a birdie on the 17th for a 2-and-1 victory.

Ogilvy will be trying to win a World Golf Championship for the third time in his career, the most of any player besides Woods, who has won 15 of them. For Casey, it would be his first professional victory in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.