- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

KAPALUA, Hawaii | Geoff Ogilvy finished the final round the way he started Sunday, six shots clear of a winners-only field at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

It was the part in the middle he could have done without.

Ogilvy was on the verge of an unseemly collapse, his six-shot lead down to one as he stood in the ninth fairway, when he drilled his approach onto the green and holed a 30-foot eagle putt to steady his nerves and send him on his way to victory at Kapalua.

With four straight birdies on the back nine to restore the margin, he sailed home to a 5-under 68 to join Ernie Els and Vijay Singh as the only wire-to-wire winners since the season-opening PGA Tour event moved to Kapalua in 1999.

Anthony Kim nearly made double eagle on the last hole for a 67 to tie for second with Davis Love III, who also had a 67.

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.

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 six 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 five 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 make 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.”

Singh (2007) and Els (2003) were tied for the lead after the first round when they went wire-to-wire. Ogilvy took the outright lead on the 14th hole of the opening round and never trailed over the final 58 holes of the tournament.

Love, who only qualified for the Mercedes by winning the last tournament of the season at Disney, got up-and-down from the rough right of the 18th green for birdie to tie for second. His tie for second should move him up to about No. 55 in the world ranking, important as he tries to qualify for the Masters.

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