Defending Match Play champion Geoff Ogilvy, the Australian who resides in Scottsdale, drove down to Marana for the second year in a row to speak with the media ahead of next week's World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship.
Ogilvy talked about the young players to watch.
"They're terrific," agreed Wade Dunagan, executive director of the tournament that brings the world's 64 best golfers to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain for head-to-head competition.
Dunagan mentions a few – Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, Adam Scott … and the youthful Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy.
"It's finding out about the Rory McIlroys of the world," Dunagan said. "These young guns coming up are absolutely terrific players, and I want to say maybe they've got a little more hunger. They're looking to prove themselves."
Ogilvy said McIlroy is "astonishing, really, for his age. Amazing player, really fun to watch. He's going to win majors, going to win. Anyone who comes here can say they saw Rory when he was a young kid playing. He is very impressive."
Plenty of other players – Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Ogilvy, in Dunagan's mind "arguably the best match play player in the world" — have already proven themselves.
"All the players in the field are amazing," Dunagan continued.
"I don't think there's anybody in the top 64 in the world who isn't really good," Ogilvy said.
They come from all over the world to Match Play, special because as part of the World Golf Championships, it brings people from all the world PGA tours. A year ago, 47 of the 64 players in the field were from outside the United States.
"Here's a perfect example," Dunagan said. "I don't know how many of our fans knew Ross Fisher" a year ago. The Englishman drove the wash on hole #17 a year ago. Dunagan, a pretty fair golfer himself, needs at least two good strokes to get it that far.
Ogilvy himself is more than a top player, Dunagan believes. "He is a world-class gentleman."
After defeating Paul Casey a year ago, Ogilvy took time away from his family to meet with the media for 90 minutes, doing many individual interviews. "It would have been easy for him to get in the car and head back to Scottsdale," Dunagan said. Instead, he took further time to sign autographs and have his picture taken with volunteers and members of the Tucson Conquistadores.
Ogilvy plans to compete for a third Match Play crown next week. "I just love the format," Ogilvy said. "I just like the 'me against that guy' thing."
WGC — Accenture Match Play Championship
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, Marana
36-36=72 / 7,849 yards
Match play (hole-by-hole competition)
Wednesday, Feb. 17 — 32 matches; first match at approximately 7:36 a.m. MT
Thursday, Feb. 18 — 16 matches; first match at approximately 9:30 a.m. MT
Friday, Feb. 19 — 8 matches; first match at approximately 10:45 a.m. MT
Saturday, Feb. 20 — 4 quarterfinals; first match at approximately 7:20 a.m. MT; 2 semifinals; first match at approximately 12 p.m. MT
Sunday, Feb. 21 — Championship Match (36 holes) at approx. 7:20 a.m. MT; Consolation match (18 holes) at approx. 11:45 a.m. MT
2009 Champion — Geoff Ogilvy defeated Paul Casey, 4 and 3
Purse — $8.5 million (US), $1.4 million to the winner. Prize money earned will be considered official on each player's home tour.
2010 eligibility — Top 64 available players based on the Official World Golf Ranking released Monday, Feb. 8.
Trophy — Walter Hagen Cup