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May 8, 2007
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
STEWART MOORE: We welcome 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. If you could maybe start off by talking about the state of your game as well as the changes in the golf course and some of the differences you saw out there this morning compared to years past.
GEOFF OGILVY: My golf game is okay, I guess. It wasn't great last week. I've golf tournament just a bit of -- just not quite right in every aspect. It was not terrible but it was okay. Nothing that a few days of practice doesn't fix.
The golf course is quite different, actually. It's quite different when it's blowing 30 miles an hour, so it's hard to tell actually. Some aspects are going to be easier because it's probably going to play shorter in some aspects because the ball runs a long way. The rough is much more playable than it used to be, but that could turn out to be more difficult because you're going to go for greens out of the rough when you never used to and you're going to bounce it over the backs and you're going to have some trouble that way.
It's very different from what we're used to playing because of the way -- because of the grass and because of the firmness. And the greens seem to be less slopey than they were before. I don't know if that's true, but they seem to be less slopey. The slopes seems to be subtler than they used to be.
It's still Sawgrass, still a tough golf course, just a little bit different.
Q. Today Tiger played with Craig Perks again this morning and said that he feels sorry for him and said it's painful to watch at times, and then Craig said he's just lacking confidence. Do you see how could happen to a guy after what happened in '02? How surprising is it to see where he's gone?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's surprising because he was playing great for like the year or two before. 2006 he played quite nicely, finished up there in quite a few tournaments. He nearly won the Honda at Heron Bay that one time. I mean, he was a good, solid player. It wasn't a shock to see him win. I'm sure he wasn't the first guy people thought was going to win that week, but it wasn't a surprise at all I don't think.
So to see him -- he's not playing well. I mean, it's hard to watch, you know? I'm sure he'll work it out. He's a talented guy, but it's tough to watch. I don't know, what do you say? I haven't got to that struggling part of my game yet. Maybe one day I'll find out how hard it can be. But it's tough to watch a guy who has been playing well not play better.
Q. There's a rumor going around that you told another reporter that you'd rather win the Open than this. True or false?
GEOFF OGILVY: Open is pretty high on the priority list, but it's a different type -- the Open would be emotionally the one you'd want to win, but practically this is the one you want to win. Is that a fair answer?
Q. It is. Adam said it's easy for you to say that because you already won the U.S. Open.
GEOFF OGILVY: This isn't the U.S. Open, though. It's easy for him to say because he's won here (laughter). It's different. I mean, career-wise, winning here is leaps and bounds in front of the Open, but if I ended my career not winning this tournament, it would be disappointing, but if I ended my career not winning the Open, it would be more disappointing. How's that?
Q. When you go to Oakmont, you're turning 30 at the beginning of that week, and you will basically close the door on any 20-somethings with majors on their resume at that point, which is a rare occurrence throughout history. Is there any explanation in your mind as to why it's been so hard right now for maybe as many other 20-something guys to win?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. How many did Tiger win in his 20s?
GEOFF OGILVY: That's going pretty good.
Look, I don't know. It's one of those things. I think it's been the hardest period probably to win a major because a guy has won ten or 12 or 13, however many.
GEOFF OGILVY: So there's one guy winning every one of two a year, so there's less to win than probably there has been in other periods. But it's probably the same as it was against Jack when Jack was in his prime. I don't know, there's probably a million different reasons. I don't know, maybe we're just not as good as 20-somethings were 20 years ago. Or maybe people play longer now in their 40s better than they used to.
Q. A few players have been given us their impressions of the 17th. You'd never see a hole like that at Royal Melbourne. What's your take on it?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's a fun hole. It's tricky when it's windy, it's pretty simple when it's not windy, tricky deep into the golf tournament because it's such -- the penalty for missing the green is so immense. You're almost guaranteed a double. Well, you're not, but you've got to hit a similar type shot again, a 98-yard wedge shot, which is never that nice after you've just hit one in the water. Dry land is your friend there, and you would think it would be quite easy. If that was just bunker around it and not water, you'd probably find more people would hit it on the grass then.
So there's something that water that does it to people. I don't know, it's a fun hole. I'm glad it's here. They didn't even consider lengthening it because it's the perfect hole the way it is. You wouldn't design an island hole on every course in the world, but it seems to work here. It's cool.
Q. Mickelson said there was no cap to the number you could make there. Can you think of another hole like that, notwithstanding any hole John Daly plays?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, 6 at Bay Hill (laughter)? Well, any hole with water in play. 12 at Augusta you could stand there for quite a while pitching over there.
15, you can hit a few in the water there. That one is up there. There's no bail-out. Most holes have some sort of bail-out. That one has none. The pitch shot is not that nice. You'd almost rather a full one, but it's an awkward yardage, and you just don't want to spin it back off the front. So you pitch it too far and -- it's awkward. Yeah, I mean, it's probably the one hole on TOUR that has no ceiling to what you could shoot there.
Q. Do you think much on that hole?
GEOFF OGILVY: About what (laughter)?
Q. How to play it.
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, you just want to hit --
Q. Middle of the green, is that what you do.
GEOFF OGILVY: Pretty much. You'd love to be the level the pin is on. If it's dead still, it's quite easy. It depends on your yardage. If you're comfortable -- if your yardage works out that you can hit one pretty hard, it's not that bad, but if you've got to take something off it gets awkward. It always seems to be like that. It always seems to be off the right slightly into the wind. You don't want to hit a longer club because it feels like you could go over, but you don't want to hit the shorter one. You get a bit awkward with your distance. I don't know what I do, I just try to do what feels good at the time.
Q. Could it be easier if it's firmer as opposed to real spongy and all of a sudden you're worried about spin?
GEOFF OGILVY: There will be an aspect of it that's easier if it's firmer, but it's also going to be harder to land it up top and keep it up top now. There's going to be less of that top thing you can land it on without it bouncing over the back. Before you could probably land it four yards from the back and have it not go over. Now you have to land it probably six from the back. If you land it up the hill it's going to come back. Getting it on that middle top bit is going to be probably harder than it used to be. But getting at that front pin might be easier because you won't spin it so hard down that hill like you used to.
Q. Years ago Freddie Couples hit one in the water and then holed his next one from the same distance, didn't go over to the 80 or 90 yard spot. Are you surprised more guys don't stick with that 130 or 140 rather than going to that 80 or 90?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know, I'd probably go to the shorter one because I've just hit the longer one in the water so that wasn't a very successful yardage for me. I don't know, I'd go to the next one. If you didn't feel very good with your wedge game you probably would, if you'd rather hit a full one.
But I imagine most guys you just want to get closer to the green because it just seems easier from closer.
Q. You alluded to the 15th hole at Augusta earlier, and with that hole and one or two other big numbers you had there, did you come away from that tournament thinking, I could have won that without just a couple of shots?
GEOFF OGILVY: I didn't really come away thinking -- well, I came away thinking I could have done a lot better than I did. Realizing that I've probably played 68 holes as good as most and it was just three or four train wrecks. But I walked away thinking I'm not the only one who had three or four train wrecks in that tournament because that's the type of place that it is. But the nice thing is I walked away thinking I can contend and this is the kind of place I can win because I didn't really do much wrong.
Q. That being said, having won the U.S. Open last year, going back there in a month, do you go in with a totally different mindset that I should be a favorite now in these major championships, I kind of know how to do it?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't think I should be a favorite. I think I can win them. I go in thinking I'm a chance. I went into Augusta thinking I was a chance if I played well.
But there's a bunch of people who probably should be in front of me, favorite-wise, I would think.
Q. Do you ever feel a sense of frustration at being kind of in the peak of your game at the time when Tiger is in the peak of his and butting heads in that situation, or do you see it as a challenge that you relish and does it make winning tournaments like the match play and the U.S. Open with him in the field that much more significant to you?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know, some aspects of it, it's great to be playing when he's playing. I mean, this is a pretty good era to be playing in, the era that he's doing this. I mean, I'm glad he's around I have to say because he does -- he proves to you that he can win a golf tournament without your best. I mean, last week is just ridiculous. Everyone on TOUR shakes their heads and say how does he win last week. He's 5-under after nine or whatever he is, and how does he do that. How does he make eagle on 7 last week? No one normal does that (laughter).
It's fun to have someone doing that because it shows you that -- shows us that shots are possible that we probably didn't think were possible. He shows us that you can actually win golf tournaments not hitting it your best. And then he missed short putts last week and hit it sideways and still won the tournament. It's unbelievable. He hits a lot of good shots, but he hits -- Augusta was perfect. Augusta proved that you don't have to play your best to nearly win a major. Walking off 13, everyone in here probably thought he was going to win the tournament, and he hadn't hit a good shot yet. He had just come off his two best shots on 13. He was playing really poorly and he nearly won the tournament. I just think that's inspirational to play around a guy who's doing that.
Q. Since winning the Open, do you feel more or less pressure to succeed and do well in tournaments?
GEOFF OGILVY: More and less at the same time.
Q. How so?
GEOFF OGILVY: That's a cop-out answer (laughter).
Sometimes I think I probably put too much expectation on myself. At other times, I'm like, what do I care? I just won the U.S. Open last year (laughter).
It's a bit of both.
Q. This week is just past the halfway point in the FedExCup season. At what point does playoff positioning or playoff seeding become important?
GEOFF OGILVY: After the last tournament. I don't know. I look at it like -- just like I look at the Money List and the World Rankings every Monday morning. I have a look.
My goal this year isn't to win the FedExCup, my goal is to win the golf tournaments, and if I win golf tournaments then that sort of thing takes care of itself. I look at it, and it would be really nice to be in the top dozen or so, the Top 10, starting the Playoffs because you'd have the most legitimate chance from there. It's going to be hard to win from 100th and pretty winnable from 10th.
I look, but if I play well, I'll get to have a good seeding.
Q. What do you figure the lowest somebody could be going into the Playoffs?
GEOFF OGILVY: Mathematically?
GEOFF OGILVY: Mathematically 144th can win.
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. I don't know the numbers very well. I'd say top -- if 30th wins the first two, I would imagine he's in pretty good shape. Wins at Westchester and Boston, I imagine he's close.
It's quite -- I mean, someone who's sitting 30th is probably the type of golfer who could win two in a row. I don't know, it depends.
If the No. 1 guy goes out and wins the first week, it probably blows out everybody, so it probably depends how it shapes up. But realistically Top 30 I would think.
Q. Do you know anything about Oakmont? Have you ever been there?
GEOFF OGILVY: I've never been there. I know quite a lot obviously because it's a well-talked about golf course. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to go there between now and the tournament, definitely. I've been saving it up to go closer to the tournament so the setup is closer to what it's going to be like and the weather was going to be a little warmer up there.
Yeah, I mean, I'm looking forward to it. I've never heard any bad reports about it, so, I mean, everyone says it's a pretty good place. So I'm looking forward to it.
Q. What comes to mind when you hear the word Oakmont?
GEOFF OGILVY: Long and difficult, no trees anymore. Fairway bunkers.
Q. Does it make a difference that you're the defending champion going to a course that you've never played? Does that figure into it at all?
GEOFF OGILVY: No, not really, because every -- most majors are like that with the exception of the Masters. I haven't defended that many golf tournaments, so -- no, I mean, it's nice. You're not getting there and everyone's got like the advantage because they know it better than anyone else. Most guys have probably played it -- there will be maybe 25 guys in the field who played in '94, but apparently it's a pretty different golf course from '94. That's quite nice.
Q. In light of your Tiger -- the question earlier about playing in the era of Tiger, when you first started getting comfortable on TOUR and you're in your mid-20s or something, was he kind of a daunting proposition, to think, oh, my God, I've got to try to go up against this guy?
GEOFF OGILVY: I never really looked at it like that, really. I looked at it -- if you win once or twice a year for 15 years, that's a ridiculously good career, you know what I mean? But he doesn't win every -- he loses a lot more than he wins. So I never really looked at it like if he's in the field how am I going to beat this guy? I looked at it almost from the aspect that how much better is it if you win if he's there. Just playing with him is exciting. You know if you're playing with him on Saturday or Sunday, you're in the tournament generally. And if you beat him, you've a fair chance to go well.
I never really looked at it like that, a daunting prospect. I just looked at it as exciting to play with him. Because he's always been the best in the world. It just happens that the best in the world at the moment might be a bit further in front of No. 2 than they used to be. It's just exciting to play around him.
Q. When it comes to par 3s, what's more insane, a 137-yard shot to an island green or a 288-yard shot?
GEOFF OGILVY: 288 yards. I haven't seen the 8th there but I'm interested to see it. What do you say?
Q. What do you say? Some guys have said I have no idea whose bright idea that was to play at that distance.
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, it doesn't really matter at the end of the day because par is irrelevant. It's just a long one-shot hole. It's the same length as the 10th at Riviera and that's a long hole. But would the 10th at Riviera be any different as a par 3? 10th hole at Riviera is different, but it's still a good hole. At 288 yards, it's still a good hole. I understand it used to be 210 yards. I don't know what motivates someone to make it a driving par 3. I'll have to wait until I see it. I'm not going to bash a hole until I see it.
STEWART MOORE: Thanks for your time.
End of FastScripts