What Week 1 Told Us

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The season, in mens professional golf is one week old now. But already we know a few things we didnt know before we changed our calendars:
 
  • Many observers were surprised that Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, historically a slow starter, was so dominant at the Mercedes Championship where his statement victory jumped him all the way to No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
     
    But there was a tip-off this might be coming in early December when Jens Beck, one of Geoff Ogilvys management team, confirmed to me that Ogilvy had been working out diligently in the off-season, mainly to improve his balance, flexibility and core strength.
     
    Ogilvy had just won the Australian PGA and Beck said these werent the kind of workouts that would necessarily show up when you looked at Ogilvy. He was lean before. And he is lean now.
     
    But he hit the ball longer than ever, with less apparent effort, while running away from the field at Kapalua. In two previous appearances at the Mercedes Championship Ogilvy failed to break 70. All four of his rounds there last week were in the 60s.
     
    A dream start, Ogilvy called it.
     
    The low-key Aussie is 31 and not quite a young gun any more. And he isnt a media darling like Anthony Kim or Camilo Villegas (both of whom, by the way, are also in the top 10 in the world now). But the thoughtful Ogilvy is a terrific quote. And the longer it takes Tiger Woods to heal from knee surgery the better off golf will be if Ogilvy stays hot.
     
  • Retief Goosen, like Ogilvy is a former U.S. Open champion. In fact, he won two U.S. Opens in a four-year stretch earlier in this decade. But the 74 he posted Sunday at the Joburg Open, despite a double eagle on the 72nd hole, not only pushed him down to a T23 (after being tied fourth through 54 holes) it raised more questions about the state of the game of the Goose who turns 40 next month.
     
    Goosen has free-fallen to No. 49 in the world rankings thanks to an indifferent 2008 season that saw him post just two top 10s in 18 starts on the PGA Tour.
     
    Most astonishing for a player who has long been known for having one of the prettiest and most efficient actions in golf is the fact that he ranked 190th in ball-striking on the PGA Tour last year.
     
    Even worse, for a while, was the accusation the quiet Goosen aimed at Woods after Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last June while playing on a blown-out left knee that would later require complete reconstructive surgery.
     
    I believe if he was really injured, he would not have played, Goosen said. Goosen also wondered out loud why Woods only showed pain after poor shots.
     
    Needless to say, Goosen has more than one fence to mend right now.
     
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  • The Asians took down the Euros in Thailand Sunday at something called the Royal Trophy. And a couple of points need to be made here.
     
    First of all, Jose Maria Olazabal, subbing for the recuperating Seve Ballesteros as captain, should not worry that this loss could reflect poorly on his chances to one day captain the European Ryder Cup team. The likes of Paul Lawrie, Pablo Larrazabal and Niclas Fasth are not Europes first stringers.
     
    Second, the Asians are feeling their oats; probably too much so. Now that weve beaten Europe, its time for us to move up, said South Korean S. K. Ho.
     
    Maybe the Asians deserve a shot at the Americans. Maybe not. But heres a flash: Asia vs. Americas best in a team cup match aint happening any time soon. The Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup (and even the World Cup) already have dibs on the cream of the crop in the U.S. And thats not about to change.
     
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  • Finally, now that all the pre-season prognosticators have given us all the players to watch in 2009, Im surprised Northern Irelands Rory McIlroy hasnt gotten more props.
     
    Heres a list of players McIlroy, currently No. 40, is ahead of in the world rankings:
     
    Paul Casey, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Boo Weekley, Woody Austin, Sean OHair, Chad Campbell, J. B. Holmes, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker, D. J. Trahan, Davis Love III, Darren Clarke and, of course, the aforementioned Retief Goosen.
     
    McIlroy, by the way, wont turn 20 until May. And, by way of perspective, he is just five months and a week older than Michelle Wie.
     
    If Villegas and Kim are young guns, McIlroy is a young pistol.
     
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