/ 18 September 2005

Campbell crushes Goosen in World Match Play

World number five Retief Goosen looked anything but his ranking as he crashed out seven and six against Michael Campbell in the semifinal of the World Match Play Championship in Wentworth on Saturday.

It set the New Zealander up for a final showdown with Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera four and three in the second semifinal.

It was a total reversal for Goosen who, after thrashing Kenneth Ferrie eight and seven and Mark Hensby 12 and 11, found himself on the receiving end.

”I played terrible,” admitted the South African. ”I just didn’t make a putt and was wayward off the tee and missed a lot of fairways.”

Campbell Kiwi had warned before taking on Goosen that he was fit and raring to go.

After squaring the opening three holes of the famed Burma Course, it was Campbell who suddenly stepped up his game as he ran off an eagle and three straight birdies to leap into a four-hole lead.

”I think I rattled him a little bit. I could tell from his body language that he was not in a great frame of mind,” said a delighted Campbell.

Another birdie at the 11th put him five up and Goosen was on the ropes and having some idea of how Ferrie and Hensby must have felt.

The South African got a slight respite when he chipped in from the fringe of the par-three 14th, but then wasted it all on the next when he hit his approach to the 15th out of bounds and into the garden of one of the luxury houses that line the fairways.

Hole to Campbell, and Goosen was desperately trying to hang on.

Campbell said before the tee-off that he would be continually telling himself that he was the United States Open champion.

”I use that sentence quite a bit, ‘I’m the US Open champion; I’m good enough to win this match.’ If you have positive thoughts all the time, it’s going to create a better future,” he explained.

The way he was playing left no one in any doubt, including two-time US Open champion Goosen, exactly who he was.

The Kiwi went out in 64 — eight under par — for the best round of the week.

It was more of the same in the afternoon session. As Campbell moved to eight up after only eight holes, it was only a matter of when rather than if. Goosen was put out of his misery on the 30th hole when Campbell booked his place in the final.

”The quality of golf wasn’t too bad at all. Today was a good day,” said the modest Campbell.

Semifinal thriller

In the other semifinal, McGinley was caught up in a thriller with Cabrera, with the Irishman reaching the lunch break three up.

The 38-year-old McGinley drew first blood with a birdie at the second, but back-to-back birdies had the South American in front as they reached the sixth tee.

But McGinley, relishing playing in his first World Match Play Championship, levelled the match on the ninth when he dropped a 57-foot birdie putt.

Coming home, he ran off three straight birdies and suddenly Cabrera, who reached the semis with a four and three win over Jose Maria Olazabal, was three down.

Cabrera clawed one back at the 13th when McGinley bogeyed and then the Dubliner began to wobble over the closing holes, carding another bogey at 16 and only one up as they came to the closing two par-fives.

But McGinley regrouped with a birdie at 17, followed by an eagle at 18, and was back in charge.

In the second session, Cabrera pulled one back at the third but McGinley, relishing playing in his first-ever World Match Play, got it back to three with a birdie on the par-three fifth hole.

By the time the duo reached the 29th tee, the Irishman was five up and looking poised for a surprising final against Campbell.

When Cabrera drove out of bounds on the 33rd, the unlikely prospect of a New Zealand-Ireland final for the richest prize in golf had become a reality.

A group of Irish journalists, who had remained back home, was busily booking planes and hotels to come and cover Sunday’s final. A berth in the final is worth a guaranteed £400 000, and the winner collects a staggering £1-million.

Saturday’s semifinal losers did not go home empty-handed. They both pocketed £120 000. — Sapa-AFP