Mon, Feb 27, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Love blends with match play

AP , CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA

Davis Love III returned to the Match Play Championship final for the second time in three years, riding the momentum of a dramatic 18th-hole eagle in the quarterfinals Saturday into the title match.

Love holed out for eagle from 111 yards on the 18th hole to beat Padraig Harrington in the quarterfinals 1-up Saturday morning, then buried Zach Johnson in the afternoon with six birdies on his way to a 4-and-2 victory.

Love will play the 36-hole championship match against Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, who won his fourth straight match in extra holes in the quarterfinals, then had an easy time in beating Tom Lehman in the semifinals, 4 and 3.

Love reached the semifinals in 2000 before he was beaten by Tiger Woods. He reached the final two years ago, then lost again to Woods in a match marred by a heckler who kept saying ``No Love'' as Woods was pulling away. Woods was eliminated from this year's tournament on Friday.

"It's always better not to run up against the world No. 1," Love said. "But Geoff Ogilvy is playing great. ... I'm not wishing Tiger was here; I'd love to play him again, though."

Ogilvy birdied the last hole in the quarterfinals to go overtime with David Howell of England, then made a 20-foot birdie on the 19th hole to set a record in the Accenture Match Play Championship with his fourth consecutive victory that went extra holes. He beat Lehman on the 15th green with his best golf of the week, although Ogilvy goes into the championship match having already played 95 holes at La Costa Resort -- the most of any finalist in the eight-year history.

"There's someone on my side this week," Ogilvy said. "I've dodged a few bullets."

Love shot 68 in the morning and was 6 under through 16 holes when he finished off Johnson. In the 85 holes he has played in five rounds, he has only been behind on four holes.

He 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 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.

Ogilvy said he feels lucky to even be in the hunt for the US$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. 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."

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