Date: February 22, 2007
Author: Sportal

Ogilvy leads Aussie charge

Sportal Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling have all advanced to the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Ogilvy was the most impressive of the Aussies beating out American Steve Stricker with three holes to spare while Pampling needed just 14 holes to account for Korean Yong-Eun Yang. Baddely continued his good early-season form to be one up after 18 holes against Shingo Katayama. Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Richard Green, and Adam Scott all failed to win through to the second round with Green unable to hold on eventually going down by one shot to Phil Mickleson. Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie were also among the winners on a good day for the large European contingent in the opening round. On a day when top seed Tiger Woods breezed through to the second round, 11 of 19 Europeans in the 64-man field also survived to fight another day, and nobody was more relieved than Harrington, who won in dramatic style with a monster 40-foot eagle at the first extra hole. Playing Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood, the Irishman was on the ropes, two-down with seven holes to play, but he clawed back to tie it up at the end of regulation, before closing it out in unlikely fashion when they played the par-five first hole for the second time. With Westwood stone dead for birdie, Harrington was just trying to send his putt close, and was as surprised as anybody when it rattled into the back of the cup on a pleasant winter&aposs day at Dove Mountain. “I was putting up and over a hill but I did know the line from the first time around,” said the Irishman. “When I hit the putt, I knew it was on a good line. It probably would have gone four feet by, so I was happy to see it hit the back of the hole and drop.” Barely an hour earlier, Harrington was reeling, facing a 12-foot putt at the 12th hole to prevent himself from falling three-down. He holed it and carried the momentum forward as he won the 13th and 17th holes to square it up, and even had a chance to win in regulation, only to miss an eight-footer at the par-four 18th. “When I missed that, I didn&apost feel good going into the play-off,” he said. “I struggled big time with my concentration today. I had to work very hard towards the end to get my focus right.” The other Europeans winners were Ian Poulter, Bradley Dredge, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Niclas Fasth and Jose Maria Olazabal. Poulter was particularly impressive, not dropping a shot in a five and four drubbing of American Bart Bryant: “I got off to a good start,” said Poulter, who birdied the first two holes to go two-up and set the tone for the day. Montgomerie had to work hard to edge Swede Johan Edfors two and one, and he had to look twice to make sure his opponent was not in fact tennis number one Roger Federer. “He looks more like Roger Federer than Roger Federer does,” Montgomerie joked. “He hits the ball miles, but in match play it&aposs not always an advantage if I hit my iron shots the way I can.” Dredge pulled off perhaps the upset of the day, four and two over South African Ernie Els, while Donald cruised to a three and one victory over fellow European Miguel Angel Jimenez. In another all-European showdown, Sergio Garcia outlasted Darren Clarke to triumph one-up at the first extra hole. “It was a tough match,” Garcia said. “It was good to test myself under pressure, test my putting. I hit a lot of good putts and made a couple of key ones when I had to.” Top seed Tiger Woods survived, beating fellow American JJ Henry three and two. “It was a pretty tight match. I hit a couple of loose shots here and there but overall I felt like I was consistent enough to put pressure on him most of the day,” Woods said. It was not a good day for Thomas Bjorn. The Dane travelled about 5,000 miles to play 13 holes, as he was steamrollered by South African Trevor Immelman six and five in the first match of the day. “I never gave myself any chance to take control of anything,” Bjorn said. “Trevor played nicely without doing anything special. It was probably the easiest game he will ever win.” “Today just wasn&apost very good. It&aposs tough in match play (because) you lose a couple of holes and get on the back foot. You are battling not only yourself but the guy you are playing against. It&aposs disappointing to come all this way for that.” “It was just not good enough. I am now going back home to London. I flew out from there and it&aposs been a short week.”