When I went to the US Open at Bethpage Black last year, I made a point of catching Geoff Ogilvy at the range just about every day (and I was there seven of the eight) because I love his swing, super high ball flight and fiery yet understated demeanor. Of course, it’s always fun to see any guy work the ball, but I just recall sitting there and watching like it was a blockbuster thriller.
(Now I’m getting a little nostalgic because when I’m at the range these days, I’m usually loitering for a player to finish practicing so I can bother him with questions. Believe me, it gets awkward and I’ve realized 80% of this job is being a stalker. Kidding!)
Naturally, I liked watching Ogilvy play, as well, and picked him as my favorite for a few of last year’s majors. I hadn’t really gotten to see him play in person since I’ve been credentialed and traversing around the country this year because, well, he missed the cut at the past three majors.
Since Ogilvy successfully defended his title at the season-opening SBS Championship, he’s virtually been absent from the leaderboard, which means he wasn’t being pulled into the interview room. In fact, he’s surprised his season is still going.
“Traditionally the Tour Championship the way it always was I don’t think I should be here,” Ogilvy said. “That’s the guy who plays well all year.”
But it’s these playoffs and one good week is all it takes. At the Deutsche Bank Championship, he tied for second and said his game was starting to fall into place. Indeed, it appears he’s on a roll as he shot an opening four-under 66 at the Tour Championship.
I made a point to follow him for a few holes on Thursday, especially when I saw he was playing well. I’d walked 12 holes with Ryan Moore and then trailed back to catch Ogilvy and Jim Furyk for their last three holes. When I showed up on 16, I realized Ogilvy had dropped a shot back to tw0-under, which meant he’d bogeyed the 15th, the reachable par-5 and also the easiest hole at East Lake.
“I didn’t take any swings at my bag with the putter after the 15th hole, but I wasn’t too cheerful walking to the 16th,” Ogilvy said.
What the average golf fan might not know is that Ogilvy is arguably the most interesting and eloquent guy in the interview room. He doesn’t dodge questions or recite textbook, cliched non-answers. He’s genuine and honest, which is unbelievably refreshing. In other words, he hasn’t been brainwashed by overbearing handlers or media coaches.
And he even manages to make his description of a bad shot sound pretty interesting.
“I just kind of half bladed the chip,” Ogilvy said when asked about his blunder on 15. “It was a weird one. This Bermuda grass is really — it can make you look silly really quick. And I had one of those ones that it just looked — where you need to go right under it and hit it — I’m trying to fly it 25 feet, and I couldn’t have flown it five feet. It wasn’t that bad a lie, it gets you a bit spooked sometimes.
“I don’t know if everyone would admit it, but Bermuda rough can get you a bit spooked when you’re chipping out of it, and I didn’t feel very good about it. I should have got the second one up-and-down. It was pretty simple. But you have little blackouts like that every now and then.”
Ogilvy recovered well with a great drive on 16 that found the fairway, which was difficult to manage because of the wind. He knocked his approach to about four feet below the hole (the greens all slope back to front rather drastically) and made the putt for birdie to get the shot back.
Of all the golf I watched on Thursday, Ogilvy’s birdie on 17 was probably the most impressive. Hitting into a tough, very firm green, he kept looking up at the adjacent flagpole to check the wind. He stuck it to four feet.
“Sometimes I can tell when I’m about to start playing well,” Ogilvy said. “Intangibles, other things that I can’t describe. You can’t come out and say, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to play well in the next few weeks” because it doesn’t quite work like that.”