/ 16 September 2005

Aussie ‘goosed’ in World Match Play

Knowing is one thing, but doing is another, as Aussie Mark Hensby discovered in his World Match Play Championship quarterfinal clash with Retief Goosen in Wentworth on Friday.

The 38-year-old had admitted before his 8.30am tee time that he had his work cut out for him against the world number five.

”For me to beat him, obviously I have to play great. He’s not going to fold up,” said Hensby.

By the time he reached the 11th tee, the Florida-based Aussie was eight down, the worst start in the 42-year history of the tournament, and risking the heaviest defeat in the championship’s history.

Ironically, the record of the most crushing victory was set only 12 months ago by Goosen when he saw off American Jeff Maggert 12 and 11 in the first round.

Hensby had brought anything but his ”A” game to the famed Burma course as he covered the first nine four-over par, while Goosen was three-under and six up.

Back-to-back bogeys on the way home saw him slip even further back as Goosen played near flawless golf.

As he staggered in for lunch for a brief respite before the afternoon final 18 against the South African, he was a mind-numbing nine down. It looked like being 10 down, but Goosen missed a three-foot putt on the 18th to lose the hole.

For Hensby, it was his putting that was killing him. Seven times he two-putted from six feet or less.

Ireland’s Paul McGinley, a self confessed late bloomer, was posing all sorts of problems for his Ryder Cup teammate Luke Donald.

The 38-year-old, playing his best golf as a professional, raced to a four-hole lead after only six holes — aided by four straight birdies.

United States Open champion Michael Campbell and Aussie Steve Elkington looked to be locked in a titanic struggle, with the lead switching back and forth.

Campbell got himself two up after four, but the Aussie came back to level the score as they reached the turn.

Then Elkington put the squeeze on as he began to put daylight between him and the New Zealander.

Elkington, still on a high after his impressive tie for second in the US PGA Championship, fancies his chances of at least reaching the final.

”Retief is obviously the number-one seed and deservedly so, but the rest all have much the same chance,” he said after his crushing six and five first-round defeat of South African Tim Clark.

And with a four-hole lead at lunch as Campbell struggled over the closing holes, he was heading in the right direction for at least a semifinal berth against Goosen.

Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal was battling in an all-Latin struggle with Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.

Cabrera won the BMW Championship here in May and relishes Wentworth, but Olazabal was determined not to let the big-hitting South American race away too far.

The pair went in for lunch with Cabrera holding a slim two-hole lead.

It was Cabrera’s short game that was saving him. Even if he was missing greens, he was chipping close enough that he only needed 10 putts in the first nine holes. — Sapa-AFP