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January 31, 2007

Geoff Ogilvy


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Geoff Ogilvy to the interview area. Geoff, had a chance to play about 17 holes today before the rain, or in the rain. Maybe just talk a little bit about the condition of the golf course and the status of your game, and we'll open it up for questions.
GEOFF OGILVY: It's good. The course is good. It's obviously not a very fun day to play golf. It's cold and windy -- well, not windy really, it's getting windy now, and raining a little bit, which is unlike the desert, but it seems to do it at the FBR Open every time we come here.
I'm hitting it really well. I played seven bad rounds in Hawaii and a really good last nine holes at Sony -- bad rounds, seven okay rounds and one really good one, and I felt really good about golf when I left Hawaii, and I've had a couple of good weeks off and practicing here and I've been playing pretty decently.

Q. You took a tumble today?
GEOFF OGILVY: I did. I fell walking off the 15th tee, so I might go and put some metal spikes in my shoes this week. I looked at my shoes and there was a bit of a buildup on the bottom of them.

Q. Have somebody clean the cleats out?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it's hard. If you walk through when the desert is wet, the dirt kind of builds up and the grass when it's wet out there. It does it everywhere, but the shoes these days, they do that.

Q. How many times since the Open last year have people talked to you about that incredible chain of events since the 18th hole, everywhere you go?
GEOFF OGILVY: A few times. Obviously it's getting less and less about the 18th hole and more and more about what I've done last year in the U.S. Open. The first month it was a lot about how it happened, but now it's just, "good U.S. Open last year, Geoff." Maybe people have forgotten.
Quite a lot. I've described the series of events quite a lot of times. It never gets boring. I'll probably talk about it for the rest of my life, actually. It's quite a lot. Not as much recently.

Q. If what happened to Phil had happened to you, how difficult would it be recover emotionally?
GEOFF OGILVY: It would be hard, more difficult than me than for Phil because Phil has already won majors. It's not like -- a guy who hadn't won a major it would be harder to deal with maybe. But he knows he can hit the shots, and it's just one of those things. One thing, I hope I wouldn't do it, but if I did do it, hopefully I would handle it all right, I don't know. Hopefully I never have to try to handle it (laughter). We'll see.

Q. How many people have asked you about your defending your Match Play title?
GEOFF OGILVY: A few people, not as much since the U.S. Open. Starting to -- a couple people mentioned it out there today. It's local today, too, it's in Tucson, so there's a lot of people here who will go down and watch it. So a little bit.

Q. Have you played that course down there?
GEOFF OGILVY: I haven't. We played the other one a few years ago in the Tucson Open when it snowed. Apparently it's good, so I'm going to get down there sometime between now and then because I can get down there because I live just here. It's an hour and a half in a car or two hours, I'll go and have a look at it at least once. Before I go to LA I'll go and have a look.

Q. You live close by?
GEOFF OGILVY: About ten minutes away from here. It's pretty nice to sleep in my own bed one week a year. It's very good.

Q. What do you think about this event in terms of experience? It's so different?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's awesome. It's a lot of fun. I mean, 16 is even bigger than it was before. I mean, it's like hitting a shot in a baseball stadium now. It's down both sides. It used to go all the way down the right side. I never saw it in the old days when it was just people and not sky boxes, but they're high, too. It's a legitimate stadium, you know.
It's fun. It's a fun place to play, and there's so many people between 9 and 10 and 10 and 11 and 12 and 15. There's just so many people in that area. It's fun to play in front of that area and there's just so much noise. It's a cool area.

Q. It's not the civilized atmosphere that golf is known for.
GEOFF OGILVY: No, but it's fun. It might get old if it was every week, but it's fun once or twice a year. We get the same kind of effect on the 17th hole in the Buick in Michigan there. That's the same. I mean, that's incredible, too. The whole golf course is like that. It's fun.

Q. Playing with amateurs today you would have seen some nervous first tee shots. Do you give them advice, and do you still get first tee nerves, and how do you deal with it?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't get first tee nerves in a Wednesday Pro-Am too often anymore (laughter). First round of the Masters, any time you step on the first tee at St. Andrews, or certain situations I'll get first tee jitters.
But that first tee in a Pro-Am for those amateurs is a pretty scary experience, I think. There's really no way -- if they looked like they have a bit of trouble with it you just pat them on the back down the first fairway and let them know I've seen a lot worse than that.
Usually after the first green they're away and they have a great time. It's just a tough deal for somebody that's very uncomfortable playing golf anyway, but they have to do it in front of people and some of professionals. It's an uncomfortable thing to do, hitting off a 1st tee even if know what you're doing. If you just let them know they're not the only one feeling nervous, I think it helps.

Q. Is there a memorable bad shot you've seen in amateurs in a Pro-Am?
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, there's -- you guys have all seen enough golf, you can see some pretty impressive -- I've seen guys miss the ball or not hit it very far, trickle into the crowd and stuff. Usually -- yeah, it's just a tough thing to do. That first tee for them is hard.

Q. What kind of adjustments have you made since Hawaii that -- I guess that last round that made you feel good, and what's carried over? What were you doing wrong or what wasn't quite right?
GEOFF OGILVY: My golf swing wasn't right there. Kapalua is not the place to find it because you're hitting off a side slope and it's blowing 40 miles an hour the whole time, and it's little chippy knock-downs. I kind of felt my way through it. It was really tough, Kapalua, for me this year. I had a tough time. Sony you can drive the ball great and still miss a lot of fairways. It's a really hard course to hit fairways.

Q. A lot of doglegs?
GEOFF OGILVY: But it was the first time I had ever played four rounds there, and it's always the cut you want to make because you can move a long way on the weekend there. 10-under leads after two rounds and 11-under wins, it's one of those courses. It always used to annoy me missing the cut there because you'd miss it by a shot, and if you would have shot 3-under, 3-under, you would have finished 12th. So I was happy to make the cut, and I had a reasonable round on Saturday, but it wasn't quite as windy. I played quite early on Saturday morning, and it was okay. Sunday, I don't know, just something just clicked. I chipped in twice on the front nine and something kind of clicked. There's about two or three things that I do wrong, and I'm constantly trying to work out how to not do them wrong. For nine holes I worked out how to not do it.

Q. At the Open was everything pretty much just in sync then?

Q. At the U.S. Open last year, those two or three things, did you have those figured out that week then?
GEOFF OGILVY: That was a perfect week actually because I was -- not quite. There was a bad shot in there somewhere, but like -- if you hit it perfect -- my best weeks are when it's just not quite because you're weary of the bad shot and you really bear down and focus better, especially the U.S. Open because it's so narrow. Other weeks I've hit it great and missed the cut because you go out and expect to hit good shots, and you don't think about it and before you know it you hit one in the water and short-side it and you go for too much. By Saturday I hit the ball great at the U.S. Open. By Saturday those couple of things I was working on, it got better every day at the U.S. Open.

Q. Where are you this week? Are you hitting it so good that you might miss the cut?
GEOFF OGILVY: (Laughing) I don't know. No, I'm hitting it better than I was at the start of the week at the Sony anyway. How about that? But not quite as well as I did in the last nine holes at Sony. Somewhere in the middle.

Q. So it's a good thing?

Q. Are you prepared for all the media attention you're going to get at the Open this year, media requests, that type of thing?
GEOFF OGILVY: I think so. The British Open, which was the next major after the U.S. Open and actually just the next tournament I played, I didn't play between the U.S. Open and British Open, was pretty ridiculous because British Open has all the Australian media show up, and, well -- and all sorts of people showed up, so it was a pretty crazy week. I don't think it'll be as crazy as that. So I've got a sense for what it'll be like. It won't be too bad. It'll still be the Tiger and Phil media circus and a few bit parts.

Q. It was pretty crazy at the British Open, though, was it?
GEOFF OGILVY: It was, but if I played a Tour event between the U.S. Open and British Open, a lot of that would have been deflected, but I kind of went off to Australia, and that was my first event. Everyone had all the questions.

Q. Could you reflect back to Winged Foot and how tough it played during the Open?
GEOFF OGILVY: It was hard obviously, really hard. But, I mean, it can be hard in a U.S. Open and everyone complains about that it's ridiculous, but there wasn't one complaint the whole week, so it must have been reasonable, a good setup, I think.
It's just really -- you know what you're going to get when you turn up. You know if you miss fairways you're going to be wedging short of the green and trying to get up-and-down. You know it's going to be fast if you miss a ball above the hole.
It's just hard. I mean, it's just really hard. It's fun when you do it well and absolutely no fun when you're playing badly.

Q. So it didn't come as a surprise?
GEOFF OGILVY: How hard it was? No, not really, because it just seems like in the last ten years each U.S. Open has got harder than the previous one it seems like. I don't know, they just seem to not like us making birdies (laughter).

Q. Wet conditions, soft conditions, do they favor a certain type of player, or is it all relative?
GEOFF OGILVY: Which conditions?

Q. Soft and wet conditions.
GEOFF OGILVY: Soft and wet -- anybody can play soft and wet, I think. Well, I mean, it helps to hit it a long way. Are you referring to this week here?

Q. Yeah.
GEOFF OGILVY: This is not an extraordinarily long golf course. It's not a monstrously long golf course. There's a couple par 5s that everyone gets to. There's only three par 5s on the course anyway, so it's not like it's extremely long by today's standards.
When it's firmer generally it probably brings down the amount of people who can play well, but when it's soft it probably brings more people into it. A shorter hitter might be hitting a longer club in, but the greens are soft enough to receive a 3-iron or 7-wood or a rescue or whatever you're hitting in there. So it's -- they're fair enough from the green but have more chance to stop it. I think anybody out here.

Q. Do you find 15, 16 and 17 on this course to be amongst sort of the most exciting stretches of three straight holes on Tour?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's fun. I mean, it's fun because you can go -- especially after 12 because 12 is one of the hardest par 3s in the world. It's just an uncomfortable kind of hole. You get par 5, relatively birdiable par 4, then a par 5 you can make 3 or 4, par 3 you can make 2, and then a par 4 you can make 2 or 3. It's a fun run.
Especially 'cause 11 and 12 are on one side of the lake and you can hear all the silliness on 16, and then you go away from it, and then it builds as you come -- you can hear each group as they walk under the thing and everyone starts -- you can hear people walking under -- it's a buildup all day to get to 16. It's fun. Playing 15 is fun because you listen to someone -- you listen to the group in front of you playing 16.

Q. What's it like walking to the tunnel on 16 after you've been hearing --
GEOFF OGILVY: That's fun because all the people from the top of the bleachers hang over and watch 15. It's cool. 17 is the hardest tee shot there because the people on 16, they've forgotten about you, they don't care. They'll make as much noise as they can while you're hitting. That's the hard shot because they're done with you now, they're on to the next group, and they don't care if you're hitting off the 7th or 8th tee.

Q. It's like playing basketball?
GEOFF OGILVY: It is a little bit, but you can tell -- everyone out here knows not to hit when the guy on 16 is hitting. You wait because you can hear it build up and you hear him hit, and you can tell within six feet where he's hit it without even looking (laughter).

Q. Did you ever get booed there yet?
GEOFF OGILVY: No, but there's some very pronounced groans if you miss the green. It's not quite a boo, but it's somewhere in between there.

Q. Who's got the short game out there that you'd die for?
GEOFF OGILVY: Tiger's isn't too bad (laughter). Tiger or Phil are obviously pretty special. Tiger is special because he does it on the last hole of a big tournament. But Jose Maria is the most ridiculous chipper -- everyone gets to Augusta and chips at the start of the week, and by the end of the week everyone is putting it through the fringe because they're nervous about chipping it. He's the only one who chips it all week. He's on another level, Jose.

Q. I don't know if anyone has ever really asked you, but how has the attention of the U.S. Open changed you?
GEOFF OGILVY: Hopefully not too much. I don't know, ask my wife. I don't know. Hopefully not, I don't know.

Q. Do you feel like the same guy or the same player?
GEOFF OGILVY: Probably a better player, but I think it's a belief thing. I don't hit the ball any better because I won the U.S. Open, but I believe I'm -- probably coming down the stretch in a big tournament I'm going to believe I'm better than I did before because I've done it in a big tournament, I think.

Q. Just the confidence factor then?
GEOFF OGILVY: I think it's a confidence thing. I think that's the best part about winning a golf tournament. It makes you feel better the next time you get in that situation. That's why, I mean, it's not easy for Tiger to win, but when you do it so many times it's probably uncomfortable for him to not win. He's uncomfortable when he's not winning because he wins so much at the moment.

Q. How would he know?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah. Last time he didn't win he -- well, last time he didn't win wasn't as long ago as everyone is saying. Last time he didn't win here was at the U.S. Open. That's pretty scary, isn't it? He hasn't finished worse than 2nd since June. That's pretty good.

Q. You mentioned 12. Is that hole really underestimated by people? Everybody talks about 15, 16, 17 here.
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, 12 from the left-hand tee and hopefully Slugger or Mark doesn't always put the tee up on the right, but left-hand tee isn't that bad. It's a 6-iron and it's reasonable, but from that top tee it's just up in the air, and the wind and everything, it's just filthy. It's really difficult, I think. There's water right next to the green. Just as many people have hit it into the water on the left because you don't have to pull it very much and it can land this far from the green but bounce over the desert and into the water. It can be a 3-iron to the back. But from the bottom tee it seems to be quite comfortable. It's weird. You move the tee up and to the right, and it's all of a sudden really tough.

Q. You mentioned Augusta. Last year going in there was a lot of -- obviously a lot of uproar, what was going on with all the changes that were made there. Is there a certain comfort zone amongst the players now that you've been there a number of times?
GEOFF OGILVY: The discomfort isn't that it's harder, the discomfort is why would you touch up the Mona Lisa when it's been fine for that long. Why?
We do hit the ball too far. But that's what blows people away. Why are you changing it? There's got to be -- that's the last thing you'd change. You'd try to change everything else before you actually changed the golf course, I think. Maybe you'd move the odd tee back here and there, but why are you going to plant 1,000 trees on the side of a hole that's been fine for 60 years? That's the discomfort, not the difficulty, I think, for me. It's interesting. But from what I understand, the new boss, I heard there's some -- the rough might not be there, and there's a few trees that have gone away. They might have --

Q. They took all the grass out -- those new trees on the right of 11.
GEOFF OGILVY: I've heard they've taken the trees out.

Q. They also took the grass out and made it pine straw so it's consistent with the rest of the golf course because everywhere else is pine straw under the trees.
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. They generally don't listen to what anybody says, but they'll do something subtle. If they really hated the criticism they'll quietly do something, but they'll almost do the opposite just to prove they don't listen to anybody. It's a special place. I think a couple of holes annoyed everybody last year. But people won't moan about it all year like they did last year. Because it was there last year they'll moan about something else.

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