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June 18, 2006

Geoff Ogilvy


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome to the interview room the 106th United States Open champion Geoff Ogilvy with a round of 72 this afternoon, 285 for the championship. There's a trophy sitting here between us with some pretty special names, Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer. Share with me what it feels like to know your name is going to be the next one on the trophy forever.

GEOFF OGILVY: It's pretty hard to believe. Obviously you dream about winning major championships, and to actually have it happen...

Once it sinks in, it's pretty special. It's starting to sink in. It's a pretty nice feeling.

RAND JERRIS: It's a difficult afternoon out there, lots of lows, but some high points, as well. Share with us your thoughts for the closing holes.

GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, obviously I started the round great. I was a couple under after 6, I think. I just missed the fairways on 8 and 9 and made bogeys there. Everyone kind of started well and then kind of started struggling. I made a poor bogey on 11; I wasn't very happy with that.

A good up and down on the par 3.

14, I was right up against the edge of the rough and I had a sand iron to the green. I felt my chance kind slipping away a little bit because I saw Phil hit it close on 14, and I thought he's going to make birdie there and I'll be a couple behind here, and it's going to be pretty hard.

I thought maybe 4 over was going to be the number. Pretty hard to have a birdie these last three holes.

16, I drove it in the rough again and I chipped it out and made a good up and down for par.

17 is the birdiable one out of the throw. I hit a drive to the left, had a terrible lie off the fairway. At that point, after I hit my second shot there, I'm still in the long stuff 100 yards from the green, and it's not really looking very good here. Let's get some damage control and get in as good as you can.

I actually hit a pretty decent shot and missed the green, but pretty close to catching the slope and having a 10 or 12 footer. I was just hung up in the rough, and I thought now you're really done for.

My caddie, Squirrel, he said, "Just chip it in. Why don't you just chip it in (laughter)." You wait your whole life to have a chance to chip one in the last three holes of a major, but when you do it, it took me by surprise a little bit. You try to make it go in, but you don't expect it.

Then on 18, I thought, well, if I knew Monty had hit the fairway, and he was at 4 and I was at 5, I thought he's on the fairway, he's going to make a 4 or a 3. I started almost patting Monty on the back earlier. I thought it was pretty impressive because he was 1 under for the day at that point. That's pretty good golf right there.

Then I saw him three putt and I figured he made bogey. I thought, "Well, now Phil is the only one in front of me." I thought, "If you can get it close here and make birdie, you have a chance." I knew Phil had parred 17 before I even hit off the 18th tee.

Then hit a great shot, kind of ballooned a bit, but I still thought it was good. It was all over the pin and it needed to go forward another couple of feet, and I thought I had hit my career shot there. But it caught a soft bounce and came all the way back down the hill. And then I thought I was really done for. I mean, you're not going to do it from here.

I hit the chip shot that I had to hit and made the putt that I had to make. I thought, "Make this and come in second in the Open on your own. That's a pretty good result."

I was hitting that putt thinking this may get me in a playoff. I mean, I was pretty nervy over it, it was a pretty big putt. But I never thought Phil would make bogey at the last. He ended up making double, and it's got to be a hard one to swallow for Phil because he's obviously been the outstanding player at majors in the last eight or nine months. Ever since Augusta, he's been playing well in majors. The first time he won Augusta, he's been there most every time.

He's obviously worked out the major formula, he'll hit it on the green, make a par, make New York happy, but it worked out in my favor. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't, and I'm glad it happened in the U.S. Open.

Q. Can you talk a bit about whether it helped playing with a pink Ian Poulter and whether that took some of the tension away from you?

GEOFF OGILVY: Well, what can you say? A guy turns up with a pink golf bag and pink pants. My caddie actually said, "What do you think Ian is going to wear tomorrow," because it's the last day of a major and you knew he was going to wear something that everybody notices. He's been quite calm with what he was wearing this week. It's all pink, the bag and everything. It kept the New Yorkers pretty happy. They had quite a bit to say. It was quite entertaining hearing what they were coming up with.

I guess in New York they're going to yell at somebody, and they tended to yell at the guy who's dressed in pink (laughter).

Q. Does this make up for the Brazil result? And when did you realize, I'm going to win this?

GEOFF OGILVY: When he buried it in the bunker on the last hole and he had to get it up and down out of there to do it. I thought I've got every chance here. I thought something silly is going to happen, he's going to hit it stiff and we're going to play tomorrow. But that wasn't a very good spot where he hit it there. He got pretty unlucky obviously. If he's no normally Phil gets it up and down because he's the best in the world at that. When he buried it in the bunker, I thought this is actually starting to shape up all right.

The Brazil game, disappointing. Obviously I thought we looked fantastic. We looked a really good football team this morning. Not a bad result, now the draw gets us through to Croatia, that's all we needed to do, stop the white wash so we could get through. They looked a pretty strong team. Obviously I'm only talking to the Australians and the English in here, but I was very impressed. I thought they did very well actually.

Q. We've talked often with you this year about the fact it's been 11 years since an Australian won a major. Did you ever believe you would be the person to win that major?

GEOFF OGILVY: I thought there was a chance that I would. I didn't think I would be the first one. Stuart has had his hand up for a while as one of the best players in the world. Adam is obviously on the path to stardom. At some point, he's just going to fall into it, because every time I play with him, it's like, this guy is unbelievable. He's such a fantastic player.

I have to be honest, I thought this was his week. He's been Top 5 the last four tournaments. I thought he'd probably be the first, or Stuart, to break this 10 or 11 year thing or whatever it is.

I thought there was a chance that I would do it one day. I thought I was the type of golfer who may strike it lucky one day or strike a hole or whatever you want to say. Honestly, you don't think about stuff like that, do you? You don't think you're going to be first. You think about winning one, but it feels like when I play with all these other guys, there's a lot of people who are better than me. It seems like it anyway. Other people always look like they're playing better than you.

Q. You must have dreamed of winning one.

GEOFF OGILVY: Of course. Every Australian of my age or any Australian really who grew up watching golf in the '80s and '90s, watching Greg play, it became pretty apparent that the majors were a pretty big deal, and this is really what we want to do. If it wasn't for Greg, we might not have an appreciation for how big these things really are.

Yeah, as soon as you start seeing the first memory was Greg actually at Winged Foot with Fuzzy waving the towel, that was one of the first golf tapes that I ever like kept watching again because I was only about seven or eight. But I remember watching that quite a few times. He made some ridiculous pars the last few holes, even more ridiculous than mine.

Obviously you dream about it. Everyone who plays golf dreams about winning a major.

Q. Following up on the Australian angle, given what happened to Greg in this major and other majors and the way this one turned out, is there a certain kind of Australian justice in this outcome?

GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, I kind of feel bad that no one ever did this for Greg, you know. He held his hand up a lot of times in the last few holes and no one ever looked after him. No one ever gave him the luck I got today on the last few holes. I feel bad for Greg. Everybody knows he was pretty hard hit by it.

If that was Phil, he would have holed out to win by a shot (laughter). Everyone in Australia has got a fair soft spot for Greg in the majors. Ironic that I ended up winning it in a way, I guess.

Q. Can you define your relationship with Greg and if and how he's reached out to you in the past?

GEOFF OGILVY: I've played with him five, six times, been around to his house for a barbecue. I know him well enough, but I don't I'm just a bit too young to have really like known him. He was just kind of winding it down a little bit, getting injuries and stuff. When I first came out, he wasn't playing as much as I was. I know him well enough and I've played with him a few times. Most Australian guys here know him and he's still a hero for them. It's like Arnold, that's what Greg is to Australia.

He's been nothing but nice to me, you know.

Q. Geoff, congratulations, mate. What do you think this will do for Australian golf and most of the other Australians in the field, most of them with their PGA TOUR card, particularly Australian golf?

GEOFF OGILVY: Hopefully Australians will win four majors in a row or something, who knows. Australian golf has been struggling the last two or three years. There's five different guys who have won already this year. That's pretty impressive for a country with 18 million people or 19 million people. Hard to explain why it's so good at the moment.

Again, it's a snowball effect. One guy plays well we all used to go to Europe, but now everyone seems to come here because this really is the only place to play at the end of the day if you want to prepare for the majors.

Now everyone is coming here it seems like to see if they can get in as part of golf on the U.S. Tour. I mean, I don't know, Australian golf is pretty strong at the moment. Hopefully we get a bunch of majors in the next four or five years. There's plenty of guys that can do it.

Q. Geoff, was this a bit of a reaction to a Kiwi winning last year? And is the balance of power sort of shifting? This is now three southern hemisphere players in a row, five of the last ten, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. Is the balance of power even now in this game?

GEOFF OGILVY: I think so. You look at Ryder Cup results and Presidents Cup results, it's always pretty clear that it's pretty close. I don't know what the World Rankings look like, but if you took the top 50, there's a fair percentage of them that aren't from here, that are from South Africa, from the UK, from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, everywhere.

I think it is pretty balanced at the moment with the strength of golf everywhere. I mean, the U.S. obviously has the two best players in the world at the moment. But Australia has a few sort of sneaking into the top 20. I mean, Adam is ranked 6th, I think, in the world. It's pretty balanced at the moment. It's good for the game, I think, when pretty much in the biggest tournaments in the world there's a little part of everywhere that's represented. There's a little part of South Africans and Australians, and any given week there's someone from somewhere else in the world that can win, and that's good for the game. It's going to grow the game around the world, and that's a good thing.

Q. Can you tell us where you were watching Phil play that last hole and what that scene was like for you?

GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it was pretty surreal. How many times do you watch a telecast and you watch the guy who's just finished, watch the guy come up the last. I must have done it a thousand times, watching the guy watching the TV (laughter). And that was me (laughter).

I was watching it in the scorer's hut for most of it. I just signed my card and sat there. There was a TV in there. Then they moved me into the locker room because I guess probably give Phil a bit of space. He didn't want me sitting in his chair when he came into the scorer's hut. Then I got out there and watched the actual moment when Phil didn't chip it in in the locker room.

Q. You've won a major and your life is certainly going to change. How do you think you're going to cope with that?

GEOFF OGILVY: Hopefully well. Hopefully well. Hopefully I don't change at all. I mean, I'll be a more confident player and on my resume it looks better to know that I did it. Hopefully I don't change very much. I don't really want to. Hopefully I don't have a post bash major slump. I've never won a major so I don't know how I'm going to go from now on.

But I'm taking a bit of time off the next few weeks to get ready for Hoylake. It's going to actually be my next golf tournament actually. A few weeks to think about it, let it sink in. British Open is one of my favorite tournaments in the world. Hopefully I can play well there again.

Q. Forgive me, but I didn't get a chance to see that chip on 17. Can you just kind of set it up for me, exactly where the ball stopped and how many feet you were shooting at and what the loft was on the club?

GEOFF OGILVY: It was my lob wedge, 60 degrees. It was in the semi rough, not the heavy stuff, but it was kind of near the heavy rough. The heavy stuff was kind of four inches behind my ball, which made it a little bit more awkward than you'd want it. It was a 30 foot chip shot, 25 foot chip shot, downhill, left to right. I put about four putts on the back nine that looked like they were going in and they missed low, dived low right at the end. This chip shot looked low the whole way. I thought it was going to miss low the whole way, and for some bizarre reason, it hung on and went in. It's just, wow. You try to chip it in, but when it does go in, it's pretty surprising.

Q. Was it from the front right?

GEOFF OGILVY: I was chipping from just short of pin high left.

Q. Because of where this event falls in the calendar in America, we have to ask this question every year of the winner. What role, if any, did your father have in your golf career?

GEOFF OGILVY: He started it off, I guess. He gave me a little cut down golf club or a little set of golf courses golf clubs, and I guess I showed a little interest. We'd go down to the local muni and play whatever he let me play, every few weeks. I guess it was fairly apparent early on that I had a pretty strong interest in the game. This was about six or seven, I guess.

I think his love of the game grew as mine did. I think he was about a 20 handicap or 18 handicap when I started getting into it, and he ended up getting down to about a 7, was probably his lowest. He's probably about a 10 now. Probably the first 150 games I ever played were with him, because if I didn't play with him, I didn't get to play golf, because when you're eight years old or ten years old, you just can't walk up and play golf. You have to have someone to play with.

Q. Which club did you grow up playing at?

GEOFF OGILVY: The first bunch of golf I ever played was at Sandringham Golf Course, which is the golf course across the road from Royal Melbourne. You turn right in the gate of Royal Melbourne, you turn left to go to Royal Ann. You'd pay eight bucks to play there on Saturdays. Then I joined Cheltenham Golf Club, which is right next door to Victoria Golf Club, which is the golf course I'm still a member of today.

Q. Talk about your mental process and how it's improved over the years. Can you pinpoint why and what happened to help you in that process?

GEOFF OGILVY: There was not like a lightbulb, it wasn't like an epiphany or anything. It was just a gradual realization that for the most part the best players out here are the best because they're the best up here. It's just the maturing process. If you're at 18, you don't want to hear that; you just want to hear you've got to hit the ball good and then it'll take care of itself. You go through and you play with guys, you do it yourself, you kind of self destruct and you get down on yourself.

And then you play with guys and see it from another perspective and see another guy self destruct and kind of get in his own way, if you like. The longer you play, you get older and wiser and smarter and start realizing that it's not very constructive to have anything but an exemplary attitude.

Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world because he's got the best brain. He hits the ball well, but there's plenty of guys that hit the ball well. But he's got the best head. He's probably got the second best head in history next to Jack, and it might turn out that Tiger's might be more impressive than Jack's. Nicklaus' was obviously the best because his brain was the best, no doubt.

You just slowly come across the realization that you'd better be smarter about it, I guess. I don't know.

RAND JERRIS: Congratulations on your victory today and enjoy your year as U.S. Open champion.

End of FastScripts.

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