Ogilvy off to perfect start in 2010

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2010, 1:51 am
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. – Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy has not played a competitive round of golf in nearly a month. His heart is still at home, where his wife gave birth to their third child less than a week ago.

At any other tournament, it might not be the ideal preparation to defend a title.

The Match Play Championship is different.

Ogilvy came to this event in 2006 at La Costa feeling good about his game. Ten times that week, he watched an opponent stand over a putt to eliminate him. By the end of the week, he was holding the trophy.

A year ago at Dove Mountain, he wasn’t sure he could get his first tee shot in the fairway. He struggled through the first two rounds, got better as the week went on, and in the championship match felt it was the best he had ever played.
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy practices Tuesday at Dove Mountain. (Getty Images)
“If this week doesn’t go well, it won’t be because of how I’m playing today,” Ogilvy said Tuesday on the eve of the first World Golf Championship of the year. “It will be because someone plays better than me.”

That’s how it is in golf’s most fickle format.

Stories abound of players who make seven birdies and lose, and players who don’t make any and win. It all starts Wednesday on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain, when half of the 64-man field will be eliminated.

Ogilvy is among three champions who were not among the top 50 seeds. He was No. 52 when he won in 2006, while Steve Stricker was No. 55 in 2001 and Kevin Sutherland was No. 62 a year later.

Stricker’s fortunes have changed mightily, and he comes into this Match Play Championship as the No. 1 seed, but only because Tiger Woods has not returned from his indefinite leave. Phil Mickelson also is taking the week off for a family holiday that previously was postponed because of his wife’s treatment for breast cancer.

Stricker remembers what it was like to go to Australia in 2001 as one of the higher seeds. He asked a couple of caddies if they were interested in working for him, and they all turned him down. Stricker wound up taking a friend from Wisconsin, Tom Mitchell, then mowed down six players to win the title.

Even as the No. 1 seed, his expectations aren’t much different.

“I don’t think you can look past anyone in this tournament,” Stricker said.

For him, that starts with Ross McGowan of England, in the first round. Lee Westwood is the No. 2 seed and plays Chris Wood in an All-England match, while third-seeded Jim Furyk plays former Ryder Cup teammate Scott Verplank and fourth-seeded Martin Kaymer faces Chad Campbell.

Ogilvy, who won the season-opening PGA Tour event at Kapalua, is the No. 10 seed and opens with Alexander Noren of Sweden.

Even though Woods has won this tournament three times, no one has a higher winning percentage than Ogilvy. Along with his two victories, he lost in the championship match three years ago and was beaten in the first round in 2008.

His overall record is 17-2, which in his way of thinking, makes him a better photographer than a painter.

“It’s a weird tournament,” he said. “I obviously enjoy coming to this tournament because it’s been good to me three out of the last four years. But there’s an element that’s slightly out of your control. Seventy-two holes is a big picture to paint. You can have a bad first nine holes and still win the tournament.”

He mentioned Woods shooting 40 on the front nine of the 1997 Masters and winning by 12 shots.

“This, if you have a bad first nine holes, suddenly you’re out. Bye. See you,” Ogilvy said. “It’s a tournament that you almost can’t have result expectations. You can feel good about your game. But I don’t think you’re in complete control at the end of the week.”

If he loses early, it would not be all bad.

Ogilvy lives about two hours north of Phoenix, where wife Julie is home with their three children, including the latest arrival. A son, Harvey Jack, was born on Feb. 11.

“Everyone is happy and healthy, everyone is perfect,” he said. “I feel like I’ve continued my offseason, and this is almost the start of it. It’s been really a nice three weeks. I spent it at home with my kids. They got to meet their new brother and stuff. I’m coming here pretty refreshed, so I’m ready to go.”

He can only hope he’s not leaving sooner than he wants.

Ogilvy is among the few players who have bothered to study the brackets, or at least confessed to looking at them. He tried to figure out which quadrant had the strongest road to the semifinals, only to realize none was particularly easy.

“Every match is difficult,” said Paul Casey, who lost to Ogilvy in the championship match last year. “Everybody here is capable of winning this tournament. I think you’ll hear that from a lot of guys. You just need a little bit of luck, and you need to play some good golf.”
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”