Ogilvy tries to sustain his success

By Doug FergusonJanuary 11, 2010, 9:14 pm
SBS Championship

KAPALUA, Hawaii – What figures to be a peculiar year got off to a familiar start in Hawaii.

Geoff Ogilvy was a wizard with the wedge, unflappable in the wind, found a new ally with his 5-wood and opened the PGA Tour season with another victory at Kapalua in the SBS Championship. It raised hopes for a big season, just as it did a year ago, and just as it should.

Ogilvy might only have seven PGA Tour victories, but they are quality wins – the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, twice at the Match Play Championship, another World Golf Championship at Doral, and back-to-back victories against a field of PGA Tour winners. When he plays this well, the 32-year-old Australian believes he can beat anyone.

“When it’s good, it’s really good,” Ogilvy said after closing with a 6-under 67 for a one-shot victory over Rory Sabbatini. “I like how I play when I play good, so I’m not concerned about how good I can be when I’m actually playing well, because I think I can hang with most guys. I haven’t shown that I could do well when my game is a little off. I think that’s the sign of a really great player.”

The reference is Tiger Woods, and it was one of the few times at Kapalua that a conversation about the world’s No. 1 player was about his golfing ability.

Ogilvy marvels at how Woods has played so consistently well for such a long time. He noted the times Woods didn’t have his best stuff and still managed to win, which accounts for the 82 victories worldwide.

“I think I need to get to that sort of point,” Ogilvy said. “I think I can. I think I can be a player who can win any golf tournament I play. I’ve just got to work to get through the bad days and bad patches.”

The familiar result at Kapalua – Ogilvy with the champion’s lei draped around his neck – was more about change.

Ogilvy didn’t look the same. A change in endorsement has him playing Titleist instead of Cobra, wearing Foot-Joys instead of Puma. The season began with a new regulation for grooves, with a less forgiving V-shape in wedges of every player’s bag.

The biggest difference was the discussion about Woods, mainly because no one knows when – or even if – golf’s biggest star will return from a tawdry sex scandal that has kept him out of public view for two months.

“It’s going to linger for a while,” Ogilvy said. “It’s lost a bit of sting in the tabloids, hasn’t it? Which is going to happen. He is … the best golfer ever – or appeared to be on the way there – and the most written-about golfer, and the most publicized golfer and everything. It’s going to take a long time.”

Ogilvy joined the conversation earlier in the week by suggesting No. 1 in the world might realistically be up for grabs, depending on how long Woods stays away and who plays well enough and long enough to catch him.

At the moment, Ogilvy is headed in the right direction.

Then again, he was headed that way a year ago. When he won the Match Play Championship in February, it was his third victory in seven starts worldwide, and few could find much fault with his game. Ogilvy is among the most well-rounded players – power, super touch with the wedge, a good putter and a great thinker.

He didn’t win again for more than 10 months until Kapalua.

Ogilvy attributed that to too much work, not enough patience. He became addicted to hitting balls instead of worrying about posting a score, and then he tried forcing himself to play good golf. It was a vicious cycle.

“I had it in my head that I wanted to get something done with my golf swing,” he said. “The mission becomes hitting well on the range, rather than the course. You’re happy the way it’s going. This is great when it’s finally started working. And then it’s September, October.”

His epiphany came in early October at the Presidents Cup, even as he lost to Steve Stricker in singles the final day.

“I had a moment of clarity: ‘What are you trying so hard for? Here’s a ball and there is a hole. Just hit it that way.’ Keep it simple the whole time,” Ogilvy said.

It was simple enough Sunday in the final round, especially when he saw Sabbatini post a 63 to take the clubhouse lead at 21-under 271. Ogilvy was at 20 under when he turned and saw the leaderboard leaving the 13th green, and knew where he needed to finish.

Instead of trying to drive the green on the 272-yard 14th hole, he smartly laid up with 4-iron off the tee. A driver could land in more bad places than good ones, so he trusted his wedge and hit it to 4 feet for birdie. On the par-5 15th, he hit 5-wood to about 25 feet and two-putted for the outright lead. Pars over the last three holes were good enough.

“He played very smartly,” Sabbatini said. “We all know Geoff is an excellent golfer, but his strategy around the golf course is impeccable.”

Ogilvy was headed home to Arizona before going halfway around the world to Abu Dhabi on the European Tour, with no plans to play again until he defends another title at the Match Play Championship, hopeful his third child has been born by then.

The real test comes during the summer when the majors are held, whether Woods has returned or not.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm