Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ogilvy stakes his claim

Geoff Ogilvy has cruised to a six shot victory in the season opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii, to claim his fifth career title in the US and stamp his intentions for the new season on the PGA Tour.

A final round six under par 67 around the Kapalua plantation course, saw him finish with a 24-under par 268 total, six shots clear of US young gun Anthony Kim and veteran Davis Love III.

It was to be a procession for the 31-year-old Victorian who entered the final round with a six shot lead following a flawless 65 on Saturday but two early bogeys revealed cracks in Ogilvy’s seemingly impenetrable armour.

He nullified those blemishes with back to back birdies on five and six but following two more bogeys the 2006 US Open champion had his lead cut to just one as he stood on the ninth tee.

But he rediscovered the beautiful rhythm in his languid game that had been a feature of his play through 54 holes, to eagle the par five ninth, following a superb 3-iron second shot, before backing up with another birdie on ten and from there he was never threatened.

Ogilvy has been in terrific form following a disappointing finish to the 2008 season. He took some time off following the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs and returned to Australia to win the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum.

He was simply sublime through 54 holes here, posting just one bogey against his 20 birdies. He dropped four shots on the front nine today but showed his class to ink five birdies and an eagle in his last ten holes.

Ogilvy’s magnificent ball-striking was a feature this week but it was his putting that has led to the $US1.12 million winner’s check. He led the field in putts per green in regulations hit.

The one-time major winner now has an impressive resume of wins. After breaking through in 2005 with his first USPGA tour win at the Chrysler Classic in Tucson he has claimed some big victories showing he has the game and the resolve to beat the very best in the world. He is only one of three players to have claimed more than two World Golf Championship events, which features the strongest fields each season on world rankings. In 2006 he won the WGC-Accenture Match play and in 2008 his win in the CA Championship at Doral halted Tiger Woods’ winning streak at five. Now he has claimed the first tournament of the year which features 2008 winners only.

Despite the fact that Woods, multiple major winners Phil Mickelson, and Padraig Harrington as well as world number two Sergio Garcia were all absent Ogilvy’s win is no less impressive as the field featured six other major champions.

The once fiery Victorian is now very even tempered to match his beautiful golf swing. He has pristine mechanics and wonderful feel to his short game. He has all the makings of a player who can match the aforementioned stars as a multiple major winner. He has five top 10 finishes in major championships to go with his 2006 US Open victory.

Of the current Australians Ogilvy has the best record in majors by far. This wire to wire win shows he knows how to win when expected to. His game is sound and his mind is clear. The Victorian has every chance when the world’s best head to Augusta in April.

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