... And the match goes on

2010-02-21T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:12:55Z ... And the match goes onPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

If the collective will of the wet and muddy masses standing around the green meant a thing, Camilo Villegas' putt would have been true.

The Colombian's putt would have tumbled over the slick grass for 4 feet 7 inches, settling in the cup that most of the surrounding masses could barely see in the gloaming Saturday.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship semifinal would have ended after 23 holes, with England's Paul Casey playing in the consolation round today.

In golf, however - at least outside of "Caddyshack" - saying please-please-please doesn't make a little white ball do what you want. Villegas not only missed the shot, but it barely passed near the hole.

He and Casey tied the hole, and the match was suspended at 6:21 p.m. until this morning because of darkness.

The crowd - slightly pro-Villegas, but mostly wanting to see any outcome that wasn't a tie - let out a collective "feh."

Villegas' term of choice was probably a bit more vulgar.

"I should have made that putt," he said. "We'll be here at 7 a.m."

The match will resume at 7:10, with players rotating from No. 10 to No. 18 until someone wins a hole to advance against Ian Poulter.

The putt could cost the Colombian mightily. Villegas would have been guaranteed at least an $850,000 payout - and maybe $1.4 million, given to the tournament winner - by making the putt.

Instead, he could take home as little as the $490,000, given to the fourth-place player.

"I think I can speak for Camilo," Casey said. "I don't think he was thinking about, 'I'm in the final,' and that's why he missed that putt.'

"It was just very, very bad light, and one got away from him."

Casey, who awoke at 5 a.m., and didn't leave the course until a bit before 6:30 p.m., figured he was done.

"I must admit I thought the match was over there when we stood on that 14th green," Casey said. "Camilo had a short putt. … It was pitch black.

"We both made mistakes, but we both had opportunities."

Villegas dictated the momentum of the match to Casey at the beginning, winning two of the first three holes.

"We've gone through some great weather," Casey said, "and probably some of the most miserable I've ever been on a golf course."

Villegas led by one until the 13th hole. Casey evened the match near the Walter Hagen Club, and the two split 14 to get to the 15th hole.

Casey making it to the 15th was remarkable in itself. He had won every other match 5 and 4, meaning he hadn't laid eyes on the flagstick since the practice round Tuesday.

Too bad, too. The hole was lucky for him. Casey, hitting first, drove the ball into the desert on the left - but his ball caromed back into the middle of the fairway.

He turned to the Canyon Club and shrugged like Alfred E. Neuman. What, he worry?

Villegas then landed his drive in the desert on the right. There was no lucky bounce. As a rainbow made its way over the 15th green, Casey won the hole to go ahead for the first time in the round.

The two split 16 and 17, and Casey faced a 9-foot-10-inch putt on the 18th that would have given him the match. The rain stopped, briefly, another stroke of good fortune, but Casey left it 5 inches short.

Villegas pumped his fist and the two moved on to a playoff hole.

After splitting the 10th - the first of the extra holes - Villegas drove his No. 11 tee shot into a bush, but hacked it into the fairway to eventually split the hole.

On the 13th, the same one Casey evened the match on hours before, an aggressive Villegas drove his second shot into a bunker 50 yards away.

But he escaped to within 2 feet of the hole, then turned around to stare at the giant-screen television showing the replay. Another fist pump.

Casey chipped and made his putt to keep the match alive, and the sun inched toward the horizon.

One of the two will face another equally long day today. The winner of the semifinal will face Poulter in a 36-hole final.

"It is kind of the carrot that's dangling in front of you," Casey said, "which is urging you on and giving you energy on long, long days."

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