CARLSBAD, Calif. -- First came a pitching wedge from 111
yards that dropped behind the flag and spun into the cup for eagle
to win the last hole. Davis Love III followed that match by burying
Zach Johnson with six birdies Saturday to reach the finals for the
second time in three years.
The best part about this Match Play Championship?
Tiger Woods is nowhere to be found.
"I'm not wishing Tiger was here," Love said. "I'd love to
play him again, though."
Instead, he will play the 36-hole championship match against
Geoff Ogilvy, the marathon man at La Costa Resort who went extra
holes for the fourth consecutive match Saturday morning before he
finally got a breather, beating up on Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman,
4 and 3.
Woods was knocked out in the third round Friday, and while
anything goes in this fickle format, Woods has presented a Mount
Shasta-sized obstacle for Love over the years.
Love reached the semifinals in 2000 before getting steamrolled
by Woods. Two years ago in the final, Woods beat him again in a
match marred by a heckler who kept saying, "No Love," on the
fifth tee as Woods was pulling away.
Not that it makes Sunday a cinch.
"It's always better to not run up against the world No. 1,"
Love said. "But Geoff Ogilvy is playing great."
Ogilvy certainly is playing a lot.
He faced elimination in the quarterfinals against David Howell
until a birdie on the 18th hole sent the match into overtime, where
Ogilvy won with a 20-foot birdie on the 19th hole. It was his
fourth consecutive victory in extra holes, a record for the
Accenture Match Play Championship.
Ogilvy already has played 95 holes going into the 36-hole match
"There's someone on my side this week," Ogilvy said. "I've
dodged a few bullets."
Love has had a much easier time. He never trailed against
Padraig Harrington in the quarterfinals, although it required an
eagle from the 18th fairway. Love has played 85 holes after five
matches, and has only found himself behind on four holes.
"He's probably one of the best players in the world, and has
been for 15 years," Ogilvy said. "He's obviously playing well, as
anyone would be winning five matches. I mean, anyone who wins five
matches in playing pretty well. It wouldn't really matter who you
Love fell quickly behind Johnson, pulled even with a 12-foot
birdie at No. 4, then took control on the par-5 eighth. Johnson hit
into the water while trying to lay up, but took his drop and stuck
the next shot into 5 feet. Love rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt to
win the hole, then hit a 5-iron from the fairway bunker into 25
feet on the ninth and made that to take a 2-up lead into the back
Birdies on the 13th and 14th effectively ended the match.
Lehman had to go 21 holes to beat Chad Campbell in the
quarterfinals, renewing discussion about his chances of being a
player-captain in the Ryder Cup. But even with a gallery cheering
him on with calls of "C'mon Cap," Lehman simply ran out of gas
He made bogey from the bunker on No. 5, missed a 4-foot par putt
on the next hole and even his best shots were trumped by steady
play from the Aussie.
Lehman tried to stage a rally with a birdie on the 13th to get
within two holes, but Ogilvy responded beautifully, making an
18-foot birdie on the 14th.
"I felt the sharpest this afternoon," Ogilvy said.
And he feels lucky to even be in the hunt for the $1.3 million
prize from this World Golf Championship. Ten times this week, his
opponent has stood over a putt to win the match, only to miss and
give Ogilvy renewed hope.
That happened twice Saturday morning, until Howell missed
12-foot putts on the 17th and 18th hole.
"When it's out of your control, it's a strange feeling,"
Ogilvy said. "This morning it was like, 'Oh, well, when he makes
this, I've had a good week anyway, getting to the quarterfinals.
David Howell is a good player. And then he misses. OK, now I've got
to hole my putt to go to 18. Then we got to 19, and I was in my
comfort zone again."
In the other quarterfinal match, Johnson easily dispatched
two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, 3 and 2, ensuring that
none of the top 10 seeds would make it to the finals for the first
time since 2002.
Love is the No. 23 seed, his lowest ever in seven years at this
tournament. Ogilvy is No. 52, playing the Match Play Championship
for the first time. He was in Tucson a year ago, where he won his
first PGA Tour title.
Love built a 3-up lead on Harrington, but let the Irishman back
into the match by pulling the wrong club on the 17th to make bogey.
From the 18th fairway, Harrington hit first into about 12 feet for
a good look at birdie.
"My caddie said, 'Let's do something to give the crowd
something to cheer about on this hole.' So I was real dialed in on
hitting it close," Love said. "And obviously when it goes in,
it's lucky. I made a good swing."
He carried that into his afternoon match, and now stands one
match away from his first World Golf Championship.
Love won the Mercedes Championships when it was played at La
Costa in 1993, and this time he likely will get all the support
Sunday. That wasn't the case in 2004, when the fan kept saying,
"No Love." Love backed off his tee shot on the par-3 fifth,
confronted the man and had him removed. By then it was too late, as
Woods was in the midst of a rally that carried him to a 3-and-2
"The fans here have been very, very good to me, except for
one," Love said. "Let's leave it at that."