2009 Mercedes-Benz Championship Review
by Matt of Predictem.com
The 2009 PGA season got off to a fast start at Kapalua with the Mercedes-Benz Championship living up to it’s shootout reputation. Geoff Ogilvy took the title in the winners-only event, going wire to wire for the win, six shots ahead of his nearest competitor. Four rounds in the 60’s landed Ogilvy at 24-under for the week.
The Plantation course ranked as one of the easiest tracks in PGA competition last year and will likely be in the same category for ’09 after 32 of the 33 competitors finished under-par for the event, including over half the field at 10-under or better. Round one saw the field average just under at 72.36 as the winds blew, but Saturday yielded a 69.15 stroke average as they players got comfortable.
Round 1 — Thursday
Ogilvy jumped out to the day one lead after a 6-under, 67, turning around his recent mediocre run at the Mercedes. Johnson Wagner got hot, going 4-under on the inward nine to get to 5-under and in second with Ernie Els and Kenny Perry. Daniel Chopra’s title defense got off to a rough start after an opening 79. Chopra did rally through the rest of the week to get to 5-under total ina tie for 27th.
Round 2 — Friday
Ogilvy held on to his slim margin with a bogey-free, 68 to get to 11-under going into the weekend. D.J. Trahan cards the low round of the day with his 7-under, 66 and moves into second at 10-under, one ahead of Els and his Friday 69. The shot of the day goes to Stewart Cink and his holeout for eagle on the short par-4, 14th. That was the highlight for Cink, as he went just one-under on the weekend to finish in a tie for 24th.
Round 3 — Saturday
Ogilvy fires a stellar 65 and stretches his lead to six over Justin Leonard and D.J. Trahan. Leonard was the big mover after a 65, with Zach Johnson carding the tournament low round of 64 to get to T11 after 54 holes. A logjam at 12-under includes youngsters Camilo Villagas and Anthony Kim, along with veterans Davis Love III and Kenny Perry. Saturday was the lowest average scoring day as the weather broke and winds subsided.
Round 4 — Sunday
Not much drama here as Ogilvy cards two early bogeys, but still fires a 68 to maintain his 6 stroke margin from Saturday. Ogilvy collects the winners check and gets an early start on the FedEx Cup race. Sean O’Hair is low man for the day with an 8-under, 65 to cruise to a solo fourth. Kim and Love III tie for second at 18-under with Leonard fifth and a group of four including Els in a tie for 6th. Other notable finishes include Boo Weekley at T15 and 2008 FedEx Cup Champ, Vijay Singh, at 5-under and in a tie for 27th. Tiger Woods is officially listed as a “did not start” as a qualifier and earns the last place check of $65,000.
Here is a rundown of our picks to win and head to head matches from the Mercedes.
Vijay Singh: 5-under overall, T27. Singh was never a factor after an opening weekend at even-par. Vijay didn’t do any favors by not disclosing his ailing knee until Thursday. He will skip the Sony this week to go under the knife, but has given no real timetable for recovery.
Camilo Villegas: 12-under overall, T12. Round one all but ended any chance for a victory after a 1-over, 73. Villegas was strong on the weekend, going 13-under on Friday and Saturday, but a Sunday 73 ended any chance for a miracle.
J.B. Holmes: 4-under overall, T29. No surprise that Holmes led the field in driving distance, but not much else went right as J.B. was 2-over heading into the weekend. A Sunday 67 showed merely a flash of what we expected this week.
Ernie Els (-130) v. Camilo Villegas (Even) (Villegas - Loss)
We took Villegas and the even money as the young man was hot to end ’08 and in the offseason, with Els coming off an iffy year. Villegas held a three shot advantage after 3 rounds, but a 73 against Els’ 67 on Sunday gave this one to the Big Easy.
Adam Scott (-115) v. Geoff Ogilvy (-115) (Scott - Loss)
Ogilvy was obviously on fire while Scott was merely average at 9-under, including two 73’s. Just couldn’t see this one coming as Scott has the clear advantage in average Mercedes finish.
Its a shank into the rough to start the year with an 0 for 5 week. Villegas should have at least paid against Els for a small measure of victory; he will be way above .500 on the year overall, so don’t downgrade him by any means.
The PGA stays in Hawaii for the Sony this week and the first full field event.