Love, Ogilvy to meet in Match Play final

Updated: February 26, 2006, 1:14 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Davis Love III
Harry How/Getty ImagesLove was 10-under in 34 total holes between both matches on Saturday.

"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 Sunday.

"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 face."

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 nine.

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 against Ogilvy.

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 victory.

"The fans here have been very, very good to me, except for one," Love said. "Let's leave it at that."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press