KAPALUA, Hawaii – Paradise is no place to panic, although Geoff Ogilvy had reason Sunday at Kapalua.
Geoff Ogilvy, of Australia, acknowledges the gallery after making an eagle putt on the ninth green of the Plantation Course during the final round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship golf tournament in Kapalua, Hawaii, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Playing some of the best golf of his career, he took a six-shot lead into the final round of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. After eight holes, his lead was down to one over a hard-charging Anthony Kim.
"It's an uncomfortable feeling to know you're six shots out in front and you're almost back to tied," Ogilvy said after his wire-to-wire victory. "You can just imagine what people are thinking. It's not a very nice feeling."
What followed put everyone at ease, starting with Ogilvy.
He hit a 3-iron from 223 yards into 20 feet below the hole, then made the eagle putt to restore his margin. Just like that, Ogilvy had everything under control. He birdied five of the next six holes and sailed home to a 5-under 68 for a six-shot victory.
"Something made him mad, I guess, somewhere coming up on the ninth fairway," Davis Love III said. "And then I guess he made eagle and went nuts."
Ogilvy joined Ernie Els and Vijay Singh as the only wire-to-wire winners at Kapalua since the tournament moved here in 1999, having the outright lead over the final 58 holes.
"I enjoyed the last 2 1/2 hours more than I enjoyed the first two hours," Ogilvy said. "Once I got through nine, I really enjoyed every hole. I felt a lot better about everything."
Kim couldn't keep up, making only one birdie on the back nine until he finished with a 3-wood that stopped inches from the cup on the 18th for a tap-in eagle and a 67. He tied for second with Love, who birdied the 18th for a 67.
"I knew he was just teasing me for a little while there, and he was going to make some birdies," Kim said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't."
It was the fifth PGA Tour victory for Ogilvy, adding to his U.S. Open title in 2006 and a pair of World Golf Championships. He finished at 24-under 268, earned $1.12 million and moved up to No. 6 in the world.
"When Geoff plays well, it never looks like he's going to hit a bad shot," Adam Scott said.
But there were a few too many on the front nine, which was no walk on the beach.
Ogilvy had made only one bogey in the first three rounds, but doubled that count after this first two holes Sunday.
With the Plantation course soft from overnight rain that lasted into the morning, Ogilvy missed the fairway to the right on the opening hole and couldn't reach the green, missing an 18-foot par putt. He found a bunker with his tee shot on the second hole, blasted out to about 6 feet and missed that putt.
Just like that, his lead was down to three shots over Kim, who birdied two of the opening three holes.
And even after Ogilvy appeared to steady himself with an up-and-down birdie on the par-5 fifth, followed by another good pitch to 5 feet for birdie on the sixth, he was grinding.
He hit the wrong club on the seventh, came up short and took bogey. Then he missed his target some 20 yards to the right on the par-3 eighth and took another bogey.
"I've never had a six-shot lead before. It's a pretty uncomfortable feeling, to be honest with you," Ogilvy said. "I got to the green and saw I had a one-shot lead — I figured it was mostly gone — and it felt like a normal tournament again. I just told myself, 'It's a great spot to be after 63 holes, get on with it.'"
And he did.
After watching Kim made another birdie to go out in 32, Ogilvy hit 3-iron to the front edge of the green and rolled in the eagle putt. That put his lead back to three, and he didn't come close to dropping another shot the rest of the round.
"From then on, I was a different person," Ogilvy said. "I played almost the best I had all week the next six holes. It was the right time for a great shot, and I happened to make the putt, which was a big bonus."
Justin Leonard win 50 holes without a bogey until dropping a shot on the 13th hole. He shot 70 to finish fifth.
All of them were playing for second on the back after Ogilvy rediscovered his swing and his focus with the eagle on the par-5 ninth. The 31-year-old Australian followed that with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th, then took advantage of the easy holes with birdies.
Starting on No. 12, where he hit 9-iron into 5 feet, Ogilvy made four straight birdies inside 8 feet, and played conservatively on the last few holes. It was a scenic and peaceful walk as he walked downhill the last two holes toward victory, the Pacific on the horizon and the sun making Molokai appear closer than the 10 miles across the Pailolo Channel.
Divots:@ Scott tied for 18th in the 33-man field, but his week at Kapalua wasn't all bad. After some correspondence, Scott hooked up with actress Kate Hudson, who was in his gallery and with him at dinner. "I'm not here with her, but I know Kate," Scott said. "We met here. We have a mutual friend." ... Ogilvy became the eighth straight international player to win at Kapalua. No other PGA Tour event has gone that long without an American winner. ... Of the 12 newcomers to Kapalua, Johnson Wagner was the only player in the top 10.