NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Halfway through the season, part of Geoff Ogilvy feels as though he’s just getting started.
Ogilvy, a former U.S. Open champion and three-time World Golf Championship winner, is No. 79 in the FedEx Cup standings with the playoffs looming less than two months away. It hasn’t been an awful year, just one that has been slowed by two peculiar injuries.
“It feels like I’m trying to get rust off at the moment, which is weird,” Ogilvy said last week at the AT&T National, where he scrapped it around and tied for 57th.
Ogilvy said he had never felt better at the start of a season, which is saying something since he was the two-time defending champion of the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. But he gouged his right index finger on coral in a freak accident at the beach and wound up missing three tournaments.
He got his game in shape for the Masters, where he was among eight players who had a share of the lead at one point in the final round; he finished tied for fourth.
“I was back on schedule and it was happy days,” he said.
A week later, he was in contention at the Texas Open going into the weekend when his shoulder went from nagging him to hurting him. Ogilvy went 74-74 and tied for 23rd.
“The shoulder was annoying at the Masters, not bad. Then in San Antonio, it flared up on the weekend. I was playing in the last group Saturday,” he said. “By the weekend, it just got horrible and turned out to be quite an annoying place for an injury for a golfer.”
Ogilvy played one round of The Players Championship – his WD didn’t get much attention – and essentially went nearly two months without playing until returning the week before the U.S. Open.
“I’d never been injured before,” he said. “I’ve taken big time off, but I’ve still played golf. When you’re injured, you can’t play anything. And when you do come back, it’s like, `Ooooh, don’t hurt it.’ So I feel rusty.”
He added the Travelers Championship and AT&T National to get back in shape, forcing him to miss the Scottish Open this week. On Tuesday, Ogilvy signed up for the Canadian Open, played a week after the British Open.
“I like how I’m playing,” he said. “I just don’t like how I’m scoring.”
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE: Bubba Watson had a rough time at the French Open, but another American with less fanfare couldn’t stop raving about it. Texas Open winner Brendan Steele, who, like Watson, opened with a 74, wound up tied for seventh.
“Everything has been amazing,” Steele said. “Fans were great. I thought they were enthusiastic, and there were a lot of them. I was very excited to play here, and it didn’t disappoint.”
Watson said it was not a “normal tournament,” complaining about too many mobile phones and not enough security.
Steele said he was surprised to hear that.
“I don’t know him very well, but that kind of caught me off guard,” Steele said. “I’m sure it was probably more of a case of just getting him right off the golf course and not playing well and maybe he said some things. But it hasn’t been my experience at all. It’s been a fantastic week.
“I’m hoping that I get the opportunity to come back and play it. It’s something that only Europe can provide. I don’t think it’s anything that I’ve seen in the States.”
OPEN ALTERNATES: Anthony Kim missed the cut at Aronimink and probably figured his British Open hopes were over.
Not so fast.
Tiger Woods withdrew and next in line was Brendan Jones, who turned down the spot because his wife is expecting. Jason Dufner took Woods’ spot. If Tim Clark doesn’t play because of his elbow injury, Robert Garrigus is the next alternate.
Then it goes to Kim.
It was not clear if Kim planned to go to England as an alternate. Meanwhile, Thomas Levet broke a bone in his leg while jumping into the lake after winning the French Open. A spokesman said Levet would do everything possible to try to compete in the British Open.
The two alternates after Kim are Simon Dyson and Thomas Bjorn, who lost a late lead at Royal St. George’s in 2003 when he took three shots to get out of the bunker on the 16th hole.
FURYK IN A FUNK: Once the model of consistency even when he wasn’t winning as much as he thought he should, Jim Furyk is now in the midst of his worst slump in 16 years. When he missed the cut at the AT&T National, it marked the first time since 1995 that he had gone four consecutive starts on the PGA Tour without making the cut.
“It’s probably one of the worst stretches of my career … where I’m struggling this much and missing cuts,” Furyk said. “I don’t really have a lot of answers. I know the problem areas, and I’m trying to fix them. At times, it feels better.”
Furyk often says the three most important clubs in his bag are the driver, wedge and putting. He feels as though he is hitting good wedges. He doesn’t miss many fairways, but says there usually is one drive per round that is way off line and leads to double bogey.
As for the putting?
“I’m not going to play better until I start gaining confidence with my putter and I start putting better,” he said.
Furyk became so frustrated after the first round that he gave his putter to a young spectator.
“I’ve never done that before,” he said. “But it was one happy kid.”
DIVOTS: Ben Curtis is no longer with Andy Sutton, the caddie he hired at Royal St. George’s when he won the 2003 British Open. Sutton, who grew up in Kent, still returns home for the Open. He says he will be working for Aaron Baddeley. … British bookmaker William Hill not only refunded all bets on Tiger Woods after he withdrew, it offered odds on whether he would return for the PGA Championship. The odds are 2-to-5 that he plays, 7-to-4 that he does not. … The Women’s British Open will make a donation to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal for every birdie or better made by the field in the final round at Carnoustie. … The PGA Championship will let fans bring mobile device onto the golf course to use in selected areas. They can take and make calls in designated spots, and text and email on the course.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The last time Trevor Immelman played Aronimink and Royal St. George’s in the same year was 1997. He lost in the finals of the U.S. Junior Amateur and in the finals of the British Amateur.
FINAL WORD: “I remember a lot of things, most of them bad.” – Robert Allenby, on the last British Open held at Royal St. George’s.