The streak is alive at the Accenture Match Play Championship. And it belongs to Geoff Ogilvy.
With so much attention on Tiger Woods' bid for an eighth straight PGA Tour victory, Ogilvy streaked into the championship match Saturday by winning his 10th and 11th in a row in a strong defense of his title. The U.S. Open champion has been so dominant that he hasn't played the 18th hole since a practice round Tuesday.
"All golf at the end of the day is hitting it on the fairway and making a lot of putts," Ogilvy said after a 3-and-2 victory over Chad Campbell. "If you do that in any format, you're doing to do well."
Next up for Ogilvy is a guy who hit it into a cactus and did just fine.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden played bogey-free in a 3-and-2 victory over Trevor Immelman to reach the 36-hole final Sunday. But he might not have made it out of the quarterfinals without perhaps the most memorable shot this week at The Gallery.
He was all square in his match with Nick O'Hern on the 18th hole when Stenson drove into a cactus left of the fairway, in such dire shape that he said caddie Fanny Sunesson "almost sacrificed her right arm to get the ball out."
He took a penalty drop into the firm desert sand, hopeful of getting up-and-down from 122 yards to extend the match. He hit it clean, and it checked up 2 feet from the hole. O'Hern was short of the green, chipped to 4 feet for par _ the same distance from which Woods missed when he lost to the Aussie on Friday _ and missed the putt to lose the match.
"Things turned out slightly in my favor," Stenson said. "That was a great boost and gave me sort of a free ticket into the next round. I went out and played pretty freely."
Stenson went out in 31 to build a 3-up lead, and never gave Immelman a chance.
Ogilvy ran off four straight birdies to seize control, and put an end to yet another streak _ Campbell's loss meant this will be the first time in the nine-year history of this event that an American will not play for the title.
"I just didn't make enough birdies," Campbell said.
It was a busy day in the high desert, which began with sub-freezing temperatures that caused a one-hour frost delay and led Stenson to jog around the practice range "to get my heart beating." It ended in blissful sunshine with two guys left to play for $1.35 million, both of them with a good vibes about this fickle format.
Ogilvy is 11-1 in his match play career, losing in the first round to Michael Campbell in the 2005 World Match Play Championship in England, and not losing since then. Since losing in the second round last year at La Costa, Stenson holed the winning putt for Europe in the Ryder Cup in September, and has not trailed by more than two holes all week in Arizona.
"I'm knackered after playing two rounds," Stenson said, looking ahead to his 36-hole final.
Ogilvy can't complain of being worn out, certainly not compared to last year.
He played four straight overtime matches a year ago at La Costa, and 10 times stood to the side of the green as his opponent had a putt to win the match. Ogilvy survived all those scares, then had an easier time in the final two matches to win.
What a turnaround in the high desert north of Tucson.
He played 129 holes at La Costa. With only the 36-hole final left, Ogilvy has played only 79 holes this week.
"I'm probably less tired at this point," Ogilvy said. "I'm sure I'll be fresher tomorrow. But it turned out all right last year."
The quarterfinals was a duel of match play champions _ Ogilvy at the Accenture, Casey last September at the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England. They traded birdies in the early going until Casey got sloppy and Ogilvy broke away.
Casey hit one shot so far left that he had to climb a locked cattle gate made of metal and barbed wire to get to his ball. Ogilvy ran off three straight birdies after the turn to pll away.
"Geoff can be quite aggressive," Casey said. "He's a fiery golfer, but he seemed to have a very good temperament out there. He doesn't give guys any holes. He keeps in play. I hope he goes on to win this thing."
Campbell has been the marathon man of these matches, going the distance for the fourth straight match in a 1-up victory over Stephen Ames in the quarterfinals. He was 1-up through six holes and faced a 10-foot eagle putt on No. 7 when he missed, and Ogilvy halved the hole with a birdie to keep from sliding further back.
Ogilvy won his first hole with a 15-footer on No. 8 and turned it on. It was the first of four straight birdies, and he made seven birdies on his final 10 holes. The biggest might have come on No. 13.
Campbell holed a 35-foot putt and appeared to have closed the gap to one hole. Ogilvy then poured a 30-foot birdie putt, bending sharply from right to left, into the cup to halve the hole.
"I'm sure it annoyed the hell out of him," Ogilvy said. "He's such a nice bloke, I almost felt sorry for him. You finally have something good happen and then someone throws it in your face."
Campbell had another chance to get within one with a tee shot into 10 feet on the 16th, but Ogilvy made his 18-foot birdie putt and Campbell missed to end the match.
Neither finalist can remember ever playing with each other in a tournament.
Ogilvy might even have the fans on his side since he lives up the road outside Phoenix and won in Tucson two years ago when he was not eligible for this World Golf Championship.
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