Ogilvy Shines Under Spotlight

By Mercer BaggsAugust 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill. -- Youve got to hand it to Geoff Ogilvy. The man was supposed to just make sure he stayed out of Tigers and Phils way over the first two rounds of the 88th PGA Championship. Dont step in any lines, dont make any funny noises. Get them a sandwich at the turn.
 
Instead, he showed that he belongs among the elite players in golf.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy handled himself well over two days with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
The U.S. Open champion shot 4-under 68 Friday to match British Open winner Tiger Woods over the course of two days and better Masters winner Phil Mickelson by three.
 
Oh, and, at 7 under par, hes just one off the overall lead.
 
I played very well, said Ogilvy, who, like Woods and Mickelson, shot 3-under 69 in the first round. All in all, it was good fun and Im happy with how I played and with my position.
 
Ogilvy appeared to be the third wheel in this marquee threesome, the little brother that Mom says you have to take with you to the mall.
 
But he earned his spot in this group by winning a major championship. And he may have earned as much respect and recognition these last two days as he did all week at Winged Foot.
 
Not only did Ogilvy match Woods and beat Mickelson on the scoreboard, he topped them in the statistical department. He was better than both in driving accuracy, greens hit in regulation, and putting. On the measured holes, at 318 yards, he was nine yards longer than Mickelson off the tee and eight yards shorter than Woods.
 
Not that hes battling a series case of pride right now.
 
I think Tiger hit the ball at least as well as me or better the first two days. Im sure he did. We both hit the ball better than Phil did. Phil showed his magic around the greens quite a lot, Ogilvy said.
 
Ive got a fair way to go until Im as good as these guys.
 
Its not as if Woods and Mickelson werent familiar with Ogilvys prowess. He won the Match Play Championship earlier this year, and then captured the U.S. Open trophy when Lefty let it slip through his grasp.
 
But not everyone was overly familiar with the 29-year-old Aussie until this week.
 
Before teeing off on thier first hole Thursday, a middle-aged woman, who was obivously there to see Tiger and Phil, looked to her husband and asked, Whos the guy in the green?
 
Well, he's no average Joe. In fact, he's no Joe at all; though, some people seem to think he is.
 
Ogilvy said he heard at least one person yell Go Joe! during his opening round, thinking that he was fellow touring pro Joe Ogilvie.
 
I felt right at home, he said over the case of mistaken identity, which happens quite often.
 
Things like lack of public recognition matter little, though, when youre a major winner, a millionaire, and well respected and liked by your peers.
 
Theres a reason hes the U.S. Open champion, Woods said. Him playing the way he did the first two days, thats not a surprise at all. Geoff is an extremely talented player, understands how to play major championship golf, and hes getting the job done.
 
Remember, Ogilvy is in just his sixth season on TOUR, and he didnt win until 2005 at the Tucson Open, which was contested opposite the Match Play. Hes still in a learning process, developing as a player. Hes still experiencing things for the first time.
 
Like the environment surrounding his group these first two days.
 
I never played in a situation like that, Ogilvy said Thursday. I mean, the last round of the U.S. Open, theres more tension and stuff involved, but the atmosphere this morning was pretty incredible.
 
Nobody was really paying attention to Ogilvy Sunday at Winged Foot until the final few holes, and then the next thing you knew he was wearing the crown.
 
This time around, however, he was under the microscope, in the crosshairs, dead in the spotlight, right from the get-go.
 
With thousands of people watching his every swing from the gallery, and almost 100 people inside the ropes to document it all, it would have been understandable if his knees had buckled.
 
But they never did, not even after a double bogey on his front nine in round 1, and not even after another double bogey on his back nine.
 
And not after back-to-back, momentum-killing bogeys in the middle of round 2.
 
Ogilvys second trip around Medinah was a little easier than the first. For one, he had already proved that he could handle the intense situation. For another, while the crowds were slightly larger than their predecessor, there wasnt nearly as much chaos inside the ropes. And, according to Ogilvy, the patrons added to the excitement instead of detracting from it.
 
The crowd was a bit louder, having a bit more fun today, said Ogilvy, who had an afternoon tee time Friday. But they were well behaved and respectful. It was a lot of fun.
 
By the numbers, Ogilvy is in a similar situation to where he was after two rounds of the U.S. Open. He's actually in better shape. There, he was two off the 36-hole lead; here, just one.
 
But this time he wont be sneaking up on anyone. No surprises this time.
 
And this time, hell have to deal with both Mickelson and Woods, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
 
Ogilvy, however, showed over these first two rounds that he wont wilt under a glaring spotlight. And he wont succumb easily to either man ' or anybody else in the field, for that matter.
 
This time, hell be among the favorites to win the Wanamaker trophy. Even if he doesnt necessarily see it that way.
 
I can promise you no one is scared that Im on the leaderboard, he said. I dont think theyre going to take a whole lot of notice of my name ' I dont think.
 
Think again, because they already have.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
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