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May 14, 2007

Mike Davis

Geoff Ogilvy

CRAIG SMITH: Geoff, before we ask questions of you, I'm wondering if you could just take us through for a couple minutes, if you could take us through what it felt like from realizing that you were U.S. Open Champion to spending almost 12 months being introduced as the U.S. Open Champion.
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it was -- realized -- it was a bit of a shock. It went from a pretty big shock to a good shock, obviously a happy shock and I knew I was playing well. A few times -- inaudible -- it's a pretty cool feeling and it sounds just as good this week as it did last year. It's amazing.
CRAIG SMITH: A lot has changed in your life -- inaudible?
GEOFF OGILVY: Definitely having a young daughter back at home or in the hotel room when I come back from the golf course cheers me up and makes me realize golf doesn't matter as much, and she doesn't care if I won the U.S. Open. She's just glad I'm home. It's actually pretty balanced, my life at the moment, so I'm pretty happy where it's at. I think I'm more balanced this week coming into the U.S. Open this year than last year, which is nice.
CRAIG SMITH: Just wondering, you developed a reputation of being candid of questions that are asked of you; what in the course of your young career -- inaudible -- has gotten you into hot water?
GEOFF OGILVY: I've never actually got myself into hot water yet, touch wood. I don't think much of what I say is too controversial. I just try to tell people how I see it, you know.
You know, I have subjects I'll try to stay away from and I'll try to be politically correct in most situations. But I try to be honest and tell it how I see it and hopefully don't annoy anybody, and hopefully I haven't done it so far and hopefully I won't do it in the future.
CRAIG SMITH: We are proud to have you as the U.S. Open and USGA Champion, and here at Oakmont, we hope you get here soon and on behalf of the rest of the membership and staff, we'll be waiting to welcome you.

Q. Do you have plans, will you come to Oakmont prior to championship week to try to learn the golf course?
GEOFF OGILVY: I do actually. I've been meaning to do it, but I think the week it's going to fit best is sometime between Memorial and the Open, so sometime the week before -- early the week before I think, maybe the Monday and Tuesday of the week before.
I think I want to go as close to the tournament as possible when the setup is as close as it's going to be to what it will be in the tournament. That's why I played Winged Foot Monday the week before, so I'm going to stick to that plan.

Q. With the par 3 that is almost 290 yards and there's a par 5 that is almost 670, those numbers are sort of overwhelming to the average golfer; do they mean anything to you guy?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't think many guys in the field actually look at the scorecard and go, wow, that's an awfully long hole. I think they play the hole and then decide whether it's difficult.
We've never played a par 3 that's 290 yards or 280 yards; that's going to be interesting. I think everybody's been talking about that for a while actually. That's the most talked-about hole in the locker room at the moment, the 8th hole. We don't have driver or 3-wood par 3s, so it's going to be interesting to see how that's going to shape up.
The longer par 5s, it makes a difference obviously. Golf courses are getting longer every year, so we're all getting quite used to seeing 500-yard par 4s and 600-plus-yard par 5s. We all just try to work out how to play them best, and it gets more difficult obviously, because we like hitting our second shots on the greens on the par 5s, not hitting our third shots with 6-irons on the par 5s. We are much happier hitting second shots near the green. It makes it more of a challenge, but I guess it makes it more fun, too, in some respects.

Q. How has your game been over the last year?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's been up-and-down. I've played -- I took quite a bit of time off at the end of last year because we were having a baby and it seemed an appropriate time to take a bit of time off.
I had a few good tournaments at the end of last year and it's been okay this year. I lost in the final of the Match Play which was disappointing, but I got to the final there again. And I played quite well at Doral, the other WGC event.
Augusta, I played 68 really good holes, under par for 68 of the holes, and four train-wreck holes, so that -- apart from that, I played quite well there.
It's been okay. No spectacular weeks but no bad ones either. The game is okay, not as sharp as it has been but you never know with golf; it's never far away.

Q. What have you heard about Oakmont by word-of-mouth and how has it affected your preparation so far?
GEOFF OGILVY: Over years I've heard Oakmont is a great golf course, and we all heard the stories a few years ago from the U.S. Amateur that all of the trees had been cut down. It's a different looking course than it used to be. Everyone says good things about it. I've always been looking forward to get there.
And then there are a few guys who have played a few practice rounds there and a few reports coming back of how the course is playing and how tough it's going to be. Just making me look forward to get there actually. I've heard positive reports and I've heard reports that it's going to be one of the hardest courses we've ever seen.
I know the greens -- they are going to have to slow down the greens for us because they are faster for the members than they are for the U.S. Open. I've heard all of the stories from everyone here, so I'm just looking forward to seeing it.

Q. At Winged Foot last year, we think a lot about what happened with Mickelson -- are you concerned that the U.S. Open will be remembered more for Mickelson didn't do on 18 than what you did to win the championship?
GEOFF OGILVY: Not really too much. I mean, the trophy is sitting on my mantelpiece, so I'm quite happy where it's sitting at the moment. I guess in an ideal world, you'd like to be walking up the last four shots in front and have everyone talking about how you blew the field away and stuff, but that's not how it worked out.
And then to be completely honest, I was pretty fortunate last year that it turned out my way the way it did. So I was obviously in the right place at the right time and played the right four rounds at the right time and came away with it.
So Phil is one of most talked-about golfers in the world when he's not playing so, when he is playing, he does something like that, everyone is going to talk about it. Doesn't worry me too much.
CRAIG SMITH: It sounds to me like your destiny is to win a major championship, but I'm dating myself here, but I know that when Payne Stewart won his first, he then tried so hard to be a U.S. Open Champion that he almost changed some things and the second time he enjoyed it more. Is there pressure to be a U.S. Open Champion?
GEOFF OGILVY: It kind of works two ways I guess. I mean, I think there is, you feel like now that you've done it, you're supposed to play well every week and you're supposed to represent the tournament I guess a little bit. I guess I've put a little bit more pressure on myself in that respect.
But on the other hand, I can sit back and I can tell myself that it doesn't really matter how I played because I won the U.S. Open, so why am I putting all of this pressure on myself before; I won it. So it works both ways.
I think Payne's advice just to enjoy it is pretty sound advice. A lot of times I've enjoyed it and a lot of times I've probably tried a little bit too hard. I think I've been half and half in that respect and if it happens again, I will try to enjoy it a bit more. But I've enjoyed it -- not to say I haven't enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it greatly. It's been fantastic.
CRAIG SMITH: How about for your country, sometimes we don't understand in the U.S., you're in Scottsdale now but you still have those strong ties. What does it mean to your native country in Australia to take that home? Of all of those great players that have brought their game to the U.S., you got it first; what does it mean back home?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it was a pretty exciting deal. It had been a long time since -- ten or 11 years since Steve Elkington had won a major and at least 20-something years, David Graham won in 1982 or something, 25 years, so that's a long time between U.S. Opens for Australians.
So it was pretty exciting stuff back there, pretty excited. Still very big in the golf community back there. They are all pretty fired up and apparently the Junior golf is hitting new heights and it's inspired a lot of good things to happen. So I'm just proud that I've got anything to do with that. It been really fun.
CRAIG SMITH: If you had not been a professional golfer, what would you have done? What was your career path.
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know, I think about that all the time but I'm not quite sure because I never really thought about doing anything else. I like doing lots of different stuff, but what the reality would have been. I'm not sure.
It was always in my head to play golf from a pretty young age, and it goes from that point where it's a fantasy or where it's this is what I want to do and it's not going to happen where it's actually a reality and turning pro and actually making some money and actually making a living doing it. I never actually gave any other career paths any thought.
I'd like to think I would be something fun like a musician or a surfer or something, I don't know. But I would probably be -- I would probably be a golf coach or something, because I would have kept playing golf and found out I couldn't do it. So I would have gotten involved in golf in another respect I think.
CRAIG SMITH: Geoff, thank you so much for taking the time. The folks here and the staff, professional staff, membership are looking forward to welcoming you.
MIKE DAVIS: Delighted to be here, ladies and gentlemen. It was mentioned the eighth time that the national Open Championship is coming back to Oakmont, and if you think about that, eight times that's more than any other site, and there's a reason we are coming back to Oakmont, and I will be the first to tell you, it's not logistical reasons. Several of our staff members were mentioned and I can tell you that Oakmont, even though we're hard-pressed to find a better club and membership to deal with in terms of wonderful cooperation, the community as been very good to work with, but I would tell you that given the relative lack of space around the club and some of the ancillary areas, the challenges with the logistics -- inaudible -- this is not one of the easier sites to work with.
But having said that, ladies and gentlemen, the thing that our championship committee does when they look at sites is the golf course first, and as far as I'm concerned, this really is the gold standard for championship golf. It doesn't get any better than Oakmont. This is just fantastic.
I can tell from you a personal standpoint, this is my 18th U.S. Open. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it because this is just great stuff. When you think about some of the things that Jim alluded to, the USGA's philosophy is and what we are trying to do is to determine the national golf champion for this country. Oakmont does some of those things without even really having to try. I mean, in fact, in some ways we're coming in here really trying to make sure that it does doesn't get over the top and get too difficult to the point that good shots are not rewarded. Inaudible -- this course is so hard on a day-to-day basis for -- among other reasons that we will be watching it quite closely.
But I was asked to speak today about some of the specifics on the setup for Oakmont, and first of all on the scorecard, Geoff Ogilvy mentioned that players don't really look at the scorecard and to some extent, ladies and gentlemen, USGA doesn't look at the scorecard either. We simply try to set up each hole for what it is. And at the end, you add up the 18 yardages and come up with a total score, total yardage.
But this year we're at 7,230 yards on the scorecard. Now that is a par-70. That is, I would say, medium-length as U.S. Opens go. It won't be a long golf course, but it certainly won't be a short one either. Next year's Open at Torrey Pines will be just shy of 7,600 yards par-70, and in 2013 when we go across the state to the Eastern part of the state to Merion, we'll be at 6,900 yards, par-70.
In terms of the nature of the test here at Oakmont, I'm going to talk about just a few things before I get into the setup specifics. Oakmont really has a wonderful ebb and flow to it. There are long holes, short holes, when you think about holes like the 7th hole, the 9th hole, the 15th hole which is a par 4 about 500 yards; the 18th hole, there are some very long holes here. But there is also a nice mixture of medium-length holes and then you have a few short holes, too.
And, in fact, this year, I have to really do some research, if you go back, ladies and gentlemen, we've got three holes this year, par 4s, that are actually going to be drivable. And if you think about that, that is just great stuff. Last year we had -- inaudible -- at the 6th hole, which is a drivable par 4, and ended up being truly one of the most exciting things on the course.
And the 17th hole here is another par 4 that's drivable. But you go back and you look at last year's U.S. Open Sunday at Winged Foot, we purposely saved the hole location that we felt was most drivable; in other words, to really entice the players to go for it on Sunday. And if you look back at the statistics -- inaudible -- and if you look at the previous three days, you know, the spread wasn't near as wide.
So here we have three drivable par 4s, the second hole, the 14th hole and the 17th hole, which will they be drivable every day? No. But will the USGA try to make them drivable by shifting tee markers a little bit or moving hole locations? Absolutely. We think it's just great drama.
In addition to that, we've got two drivable par 4s, we even have a drivable par 3 this year which I'll talk about in a little bit.
A few other things about the test that's unique to Oakmont. Oakmont really doesn't have any dog-legs and if you think about it, U.S. Open courses, particularly last year at Winged Foot, there were a lot of doglegs typically on U.S. Open courses. This place doesn't have many. Well, there are a few out there, but what it does have instead, a lot of relatively straight holes, but it's got a tremendous amount of movement on the topography.
So when you play Oakmont as you'll see this afternoon, you rarely get a flat lie. And I don't care whether it's Tiger Woods -- inaudible -- no golfer plays as well off a downhill lie or sidehill lie or uphill lie. That's something that very few people talk about.
But Oakmont is a very hilly course and that moves into something that's very unique about Oakmont that we simply do not see at other U.S. Open courses is that there are a fair number of blind or semi-blind shots out there. And we happen to think that that's a wonderful attribute to the course where you're standing on the tee and you can't see the drive zone. Take the third hole when you get out there, if you hit it basically in the right half of that fairway, and you've got a center hole location or right, you can't even see the flagstick. That just introduces -- inaudible -- challenges the players.
Obviously when you come to Oakmont, one of the things that everybody talks about are the putting greens. They are legendary and certainly the USGA cannot come to Oakmont and not have fast putting greens. But I think from a U.S. Open standpoint we always try to get the greens relatively fast because we think that brings out other elements that the players have to have from a skill level. But here, these greens are scary fast and I defy anybody in the room to find a course in championship golf with scarier greens than Oakmont. A 4-foot putt you're standing over it thinking to yourself, if I miss this putt, what's going to happen; or you're trying to lag a 30-, 40-footer close and you have wonderful touch and imagination to do it.
But that leads into really testing the players with approach shots coming into greens. With the hole locations on a given day, you always want to be below the hole here at Oakmont, because they are so fast and undulating if you but short-side yourself and get above the hole, with the speed and undulations, you can bogey or perhaps even worse.
The greens are something, these are legendary, and from a lot of aspects it will be an exciting Open, but the greens will be especially exciting. The players see fast greens on a normal basis, but they don't see greens like this, so it should be great fun.
As far as a couple specifics on the setup, it was mentioned already, and I think everybody is perhaps even tired of hearing about it are the trees here at Oakmont and what's happened with them. Aesthetically, it is a big, big change, taken it back to the original intent from the start -- even though it's not a true links course, it was really after that concept. When there were trees on the golf course, the bunkers were very close to fairways -- inaudible -- in my opinion, they did a marvelous job taking it back to that where the bunkers are really in play now. Balls are rolling, there are not trees out there. That will probably help them get ready for the U.S. Open. But that is obviously one change that everybody is going to see.
But beyond that, there have been a lot of changes, even post U.S. Amateur which was only in 2003, I think are going to make a much bigger change. All of the bunkers have been redone and with the intent to really go back to the original design whereby they are true hazards. And if you look out there, a lot of these bunkers are just almost holes in the ground, flat bottom. Others are flat bottoms but in front -- inaudible -- and I can't think of another U.S. Open course before the drive zone bunker -- inaudible -- and many times, this is definitely going to be different than most U.S. Opens, you would rather be in the rough than in a bunker. And folks, that just doesn't happen on a year-in, year-out basis. Players are going to miss a green or miss a fairway, the drive zone, hoping that it gets in a bunker -- inaudible -- but I don't think you're at Oakmont.
A few others things that have changed, in addition to the bunkers and the trees is that throughout the golf course they have ditches that are marked with water hazards. Well, those have been redone, they were dugout really to not drain much better and because of that, the course really does drain much better. It's not the surface it used to be. So if we do get some rain, we can play a firmer golf course than we otherwise would have. But the thing that is different from 1994 is many of those ditches are right up against the fairways the way they used to be years ago.
And as the golf course got narrowed over the years, whether it was championship golf or whatever, those ditches were more out of play. The second hole, the 9th hole, the 12th hole, they are right up against the fairways the way they used to be, and they really will offer a challenge that, you know, it's not like you're looking at this giant pond out there. You see a ditch, but those ditches, because of the undulations in fairways, they really come into play, so another exciting element.
As far as preparation -- inaudible -- the greens will be 13, 13-and-a-half-foot range on the Stimpmeter. As far as just giving a comparison, that would be on the fast side. But we've had greens that are faster even up in the 14 range, but I will tell you that we've never had greens scarier.
And how you come up with that, we really analyze each one of the greens for what -- we go out and try to find four hole locations where we're going to be and that really sets a basis for that number. So we feel it's 13 to 13 1/2, and are scary fast, Oakmont fast. But at the same time if we get them and, yes, it is true; we come to town, the club has to slow them down for us, because I will tell you in the fall, they are faster than that. When I was here last fall, they were somewhere between 14 and 15 on the Stimpmeter and I saw that with my own eyes and we do not get some of the hole locations we needed to get.
The fairways are pretty wide range in terms of width this year. 22 yards up to 50 yards believe it or not and even though we did move things a little bit out there, I will tell you that the width of this golf course, much more so than other U.S. Open setups really was dictated by the architecture, the slope in the fairways, where the bunkers were placed and so on.
So it is a relatively tight course. Although if you look at the number, it really would not tell you that because -- but in terms of how the play, some of the holes, you really have to work the ball fairly well and be accurate.
We will have the graduated rough. We thought overall that was a success last year and the players liked it. The rough that you'll see out there today is perhaps in some places even a little bit longer than we'll have it the second week of June, but -- inaudible -- three inches in the first cut of primary rough and six plus inches on the second cut that really we've tweaked that right up to the very end based on how thick it is and what the forecast and weather conditions are.
Bunker preparation, something that we've been asked a lot of questions on, again, like we've done the last couple of years, welcome in and have the ground staff purposely soften the bunker sand a little bit. What that does is it just makes the challenge a little bit more. If you can give these Tour players -- they can hit the ball so well and spin it -- inaudible -- get in particular the green-side bunker, is not nearly the challenge of being in the rough. We will soften them up -- inaudible -- we've been asked a question, what about furrowing the bunkers because we know what happened last year at the Memorial.
We talked about it and we didn't feel that was right for the U.S. Open even though Opens past were like that, partially because No. 1 it's not the same kind of sand it used to be. The original sand in these bunkers was river bottom sand and it was a rocky substance and you could do that. If you tried to do it with this sand I don't think it would work very well. Candidly, we're not real crazy about the idea of two guys being in the bunker and one guy, being up top and one guy having an easy shot and the other guy having a near impossible shot.
The tees on the 8th hole, 10th hole, 12th hole, being a real long par 3, we will move that back and forth between 252 yards and 288 yards depending on forecast and weather conditions. Obviously we go back there -- inaudible -- more docile with the hole locations because the length.
The 12th hole the par 5 when we set this up a few years ago, we just felt that using the back of the 10 tee -- you have to see it to understand it, was the right place to tee off from on 12 because it put the intent of the drive zone bunkers back into play. So we only played back on 12, which again is the back of 10 tee -- 10 tee markers up and when we play up on 12, which we'll probably do one or two days -- move it back on 10, which on both holes will make it interesting.
We will also as needed move the tee markers on some of these short drivable par 4s to really entice them to go for it on certain days.
And the last thing I mentioned, just a few holes out here, the 17th hole should just be fabulous drama. Some other holes worth mentioning, we talked about the drivable par 4, the second hole, the 14th hole, the 17th hole but we've got two par 5s here this week that are over 600 yards. I think the one is the 5th hole, which will probably play the easiest hole in relation to par because it was downhill on the drive and relatively Open in front. So I think that's one hole here at Oakmont that they really need to think about making a good score on.
The other is 12, and 12 you'll see from the back tee it's 667 yards, but it plays straight downhill. Folks, there will be players that get there in two. Absolutely they will get there in two.
But in my mind, it probably is the most strategic par 5 in all of championship golf. I know that's a huge statement to make but when you think about strategy, we play that hole, they have got to be thinking exactly how far and what line they want to hit it on the tee shot and what are options on that tee shot. They have to think about whether to lay up on the second shot. Again, all kind of options there. The ditches run on both sides of the hole. They have got to think about running the ball up on the green. That happens to be one of three greens at Oakmont that fall away from you, and it moves from the front of the greens higher than the back.
So playing in firm, fast condition, you've got to play -- inaudible -- land the ball short to go at the hole locations in the front, and then if you get your ball on the green on 12, your work has just begun. It's definitely one of the most treacherous greens here at Oakmont. It's interesting, but par 5s for touring pros, they are thinking about birdies immediately. I bet after practice rounds if you offer somebody like Tiger Woods, would you take 19 strokes for the four rounds on 12, I'm not so sure he wouldn't take it. He may say, I'll take 20 strokes if you offer it to me. It's an interesting hole and it will be a lot of drama there.
To finish up things, the 8th hole, the long par 3, I guess the first question to answer is what the heck was the USGA thinking when they put a tee back to 288 yards. To give you a little background, that hole is played 252 yards for every single U.S. Open played here. Folks, back in the 1927 Open it was 252 yards. It was built and designed for drivers, 3-woods. When you get out and play it, you'll understand it. It's one of Oakmont's largest greens, it's one of the flattest greens and has roughly 40 yards in front of the green at fairway height and slopes slightly downhill. So if you just get it over the cross-bunker, it will feed on to the green unless it's really wet and again that's the way the hole was designed.
Again the USGA, when we were here for 2003 and we started watching players in the Amateur routinely hit 2-irons, 4-irons, 5-irons, a few of us shook our heads and said, this doesn't need to be done for the Open. We thought this distance would really put, you know, 1-irons, 3-woods, even drivers back in the players hands. If we have a few players that just cannot get it there, so be it, because at the end of the U.S. Open, we're looking for the guy that scores the lowest on 72 holes.
So I think it should be good fun, and a few other things about the 8th hole. You go back and look at the golden age of architecture and how many holes par 3s in the 1920s were designed to be long par 3s with drivers in your hands. Do your research, you won't believe how many courses have 250-yard par 3s back in the 1920s when they were playing with hickories.
I think from our standpoint, we view it as really the only par 3 on Open courses we go to that we have this opportunity to do. We are excited, and I personally think the 16th hole the par 3 will still play tougher than 8.
In closing I do want to acknowledge and thank a few people, Bill Griffin -- inaudible -- two wonderful representatives for the club. Can't say enough about their relationship between Oakmont Country Club and the USGA, it's been great. The staff has been a thrill to work with -- last person I want to acknowledge is John Zimmers. He's the golf course superintendent. John is about as good as anybody I've seen in the business. He is fantastic at what he does and he's a great person to work with.
And I'll end by saying that there's no individual that has a bigger impact on any U.S. Open than a golf course superintendent. Really I think about this, that all of the things that happen outside the ropes that what is remembered in years to come is the competition inside the ropes. And no one has a bigger impact on that than the superintendent, John Zimmers.
Thank you for your support this week, and I'll turn it back to Craig.

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