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March 11, 2009

Geoff Ogilvy


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Geoff Ogilvy, thanks for joining us, defending your championship here with week at Doral, the CA Championship, and fresh off your win a couple of weeks ago at the Accenture Match-Play Championship. Another World Golf Championships event, and another big week for you. Maybe some opening comments.
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, obviously the Match Play was really good. I really enjoyed my week off after that. That's a long week, and it's always nice to have a week off after you win a golf tournament. It's always a nice week.
And coming back here, where I've had my best week last year, for sure. So good memories when I came in the place again yesterday. Yeah, just looking forward to starting.

Q. What kind of reaction did you get at Whisper Rock?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, they were pretty happy. There were bunches of guys who were down there, I didn't know. Plenty of guys said I was down there on Saturday, I was down there on Sunday. They were pretty excited they had two guys in the final. Yeah, it was fun.

Q. Just a Masters question if you don't mind. Do you have any theory on why you think no Aussie has won the Masters, even though you guys have obviously come close several times?
GEOFF OGILVY: Probably mostly a coincidence. I think the first -- until the last four or five -- well, ten years, maybe, until the last ten years, we hardly had a guy actually in the tournament every year. We might have only had one or two guys every year, so your chances go down when you only have one or two. And for a fair while in the 80s and 90s, we probably had the best player in the field. It was unfortunate Greg never won there.
But coincidental, like Huntingdale in Melbourne, fits guys, designed by Alister MacKenzie, and the greens are very similar. I'm sure it will happen, because we have got enough great players now. We have got a handful of guys, at least, that could win there this year.
So I'm sure it will happen. I think it's mostly coincidence and lack of opportunity, when you have only got one or two guys in the field. It's less likely to happen.

Q. Two questions. Last week did you get away from the completely or did you keep practicing? And what's your build up going to be to Augusta, and what, if anything, are you going to do differently from previous years?
GEOFF OGILVY: First part, I didn't go to the golf course till Friday. So the clubs stayed zipped up until Friday.
And honestly, I didn't miss it at all, because you play so much golf in the Match Play. When you get to Sunday, you play a lot of golf. So I was pretty ready and I was so happy with the way my game was. I didn't see what going and grinding at the golf course was going to achieve.
I hit golf balls on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, more just to get out of the house and get kind of get out to Whisper Rock and see all of the members and that sort of stuff. Not too much grinding last week.
And Augusta, I'm going to go there early again, probably some point in the week between -- I don't think I'm going to play Bay Hill, so sometimes in that week. I am going to play Houston like I did last year. I think that's a pretty decent preparation. Of all the majors all year, that's the one major where the week before -- actually, Firestone is a warmup for the PGA.
But you can't replicate Augusta everywhere, but you can try. At least the fairways are cut the same, the rough is the same. I really enjoyed Houston last year, so it's going to be a pretty similar buildup last year to Augusta. I don't think my preparation was why; I just didn't play very good.

Q. Do you think it's easier to win this tournament than it was, say, Tucson, the first tournament you won, just because there's only 70-odd, 80-odd players in the field, or is it harder because most of those 80 are pretty good?
GEOFF OGILVY: That's a million dollar question, isn't it.

Q. $8.5 million question.
GEOFF OGILVY: That's the $8.5 million question.
I mean, look, there's something about 156 players just by numbers, that it's harder to win. Even though they are not all top-50 guys in the world, I think they are all good players. There's no pro playing golf that's no good.
So you would think that would be difficult numbers-wise. But the guys are in this tournament because they have won golf tournaments. Tucson, there might be, of 156, there might be only ten guys there at that time who have won a golf tournament. So there's a lot of guys having trouble with that aspect of it.
I don't know. You could argue either way. You would probably have to say these are harder -- any tournament with the Top-50 in the world -- I guess Sawgrass would probably be the hardest because it's the biggest field with the strongest; is it harder to win than 156? I don't know. I really don't know.

Q. That was about a $5 million answer, though. That was good.
GEOFF OGILVY: Was it? (Laughter).

Q. To paraphrase something Tiger said this morning, stroke play is about getting to the back nine on Sunday, and match play, it's Sunday, the first tee, the first match. The question for you, is mind-set for you that much different? Is the preparation that much different or is it still about getting the ball in the hole?
GEOFF OGILVY: I wish whatever I do in match play -- obviously suits my golf game. And if I did any thinking about golf last week, it was thinking about what do I do in match play mentally that I don't do in a stroke-play event.
Match play, the first tee -- well, the first tee tomorrow here is going to be important, but not as important as the first tee in a match-play game. Mind-set is different. Match play, I just go out of my way to not let the guy know what's going on in my head, because it's very hard to beat a guy, I find, whenever I'm playing against a guy, who looks like you're not getting to him or it looks like he's not getting fazed by bad shots.
In a stroke-play event, you don't play against specifically the guys right next to you. I mean, you are playing against your playing partners, but you're almost teammates with your playing partners the first few days of a tournament.
It's less about not showing -- it's less intense, I guess. Match play is very intense from the first hole and stroke play, the intensity builds, so like Tiger says, to the last nine holes on Sunday. So it's quite a difference in mind-set, but not any difference in preparation. Just try to be playing as good as I can.

Q. Is that your makeup away from golf, playing Scrabble, cards, whatever, do you just enjoy playing head-to-head with an opponent?
GEOFF OGILVY: I'm relatively competitive. If I'm on the treadmill in the gym, I'm going one-mile-an-hour faster than the guy who is next to me just because it annoys me if he's going faster. (Laughter).

Q. You must be tough on Interstate 10.
GEOFF OGILVY: Driving the car there, there's an element; lights on the street you have to worry about.
There's something about match play that really appeals to me. But stroke play, I like the 72-hole project that a normal golf tournament is. You've got, like Tiger says, my goal is really pretty much every week to get to Sunday with a chance, and there's lots of different ways to do that.
Yeah, I really, really enjoy match play, and as I said, I sat down last week, and if I could try to tap into whatever mind-set I get into in match play, I'm sure I could benefit from that stroke-play-wise.

Q. You made a comment in Tucson that, I'm not sure you were being flip or maybe there was a little bit of it, or maybe you were being truthful, and you said if Augusta National opened tomorrow and you guys played it for the first time, that guys would walk off laughing and never come back. I was wondering if you really meant that, and have they gotten that thing so close to the edge now, that it explains why we have had the two consecutive Sundays we have had with precious few fireworks and Trevor shooting 75 on the last day to win?
GEOFF OGILVY: I was really talking -- I was trying to be talking about the greens, really. I mean, Augusta, obviously is a stunning -- all the way around it's such a beautiful place. You wouldn't walk off because it's just enjoyable to walk on it.
But if you gave us those greens, you play the first hole on Augusta in the middle of the green and you hit it to the green and putt back to the pin and you putt off the green, you're like, what is this all about? But because it's been there for seven years and gradually has gotten faster and faster and faster, that's what Augusta is; it's fast greens and crazy, and you have to hit putts over here that end up over there and that's what it is.
The Ritz-Carlton greens that were getting hammered by every player, I guess the point was, they were all 1 out of 10 compared to Augusta, on a scale of difficulty, they were not even close. And the whole TOUR was whining about the Ritz-Carlton greens. I guess my point was, Augusta greens are worse in a difficulty sense.
I don't know, you wouldn't walk off Augusta, but if someone designed a course with greens like that now, which Jack almost did. They were complaining about slopes and stuff. Guys would have some complaints I think. I mean, Augusta is a great place.

Q. As far as I remember, you won in Tucson, but otherwise, it's been huge tournaments that you've won. What is that with you and huge tournaments?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. People have asked that before. I'm not really sure, actually. Whether I have a better frame of mind in a big tournament; I definitely enjoy big tournaments. Not that I don't enjoy all golf tournaments, but I enjoy big tournaments more. I just enjoy the whole bigness and the atmosphere of them, so maybe that helps.
Because when you enjoy things, you tend to do them better. I couldn't really put my finger on it, but if that was it, I would say, just because I enjoy the big moments and the big tournaments and the big courses.

Q. We understand you like to read a lot. Could you tell us what you're reading now, the last good book you read, and if you have a favorite author?
GEOFF OGILVY: At the moment I'm reading a book "From Lance to Landis", which is fairly damning account of drugs in cycling, actually. So if you like cycling, it's probably best not to read it. (Laughter) It sheds a lot on it that you probably knew might have been there, but it's a book with one guy's opinion, but it seems to a that cycling is really dirty, or was in the period he writes about.
Favorite author? I just read crime novels, really. Nelson DeMille is probably one of my favorites. He's great at one of those things. They are pretty easy to read and they put you to sleep at night. They are good. I'll go fiction, nonfiction, fiction, nonfiction, because too much nonfiction, I can't finish them. They get a bit boring. I'll read anything, really.

Q. Do you typically change what clubs you have in the bag for the Masters, and do you anticipate making any changes this year?
GEOFF OGILVY: This year, I've been travelling with 15 clubs, which is fairly standard out here. And the one -- it will either be a 2-iron or a 5-wood. I'm one of the last holdouts on TOUR with a 2-iron, because I hit the ball quite high, it's still a pretty valuable club for me.
Tucson, I used the 5-wood, because there's not much wind in the desert, and it was really a course that you could benefit from hitting the ball really high. Here, I'll probably carry the 2-iron because it's a windy place and I can hit the 2-iron higher than I can a 5-wood.
Augusta, a lot of it depends on where they put the tee on the 4th. Because if they are using the front of the tee, I can get 3-iron to the green; and it's okay, but if it's the back of the tee, I need a 2-iron. And it's a horrible hole to hit a 5-wood, to but seems more comfortable with 2-iron.
Second shots on 13 and 15, but I'll go there with a 2-iron and 5-wood, and I'll answer that question on Thursday morning, what I'm actually going to take out there. Probably 5-wood at Augusta, which is a slight change from my setup.

Q. Tiger was talking this morning about 13 and 15, if you hit a good tee shot, you used to have an automatic iron into the green. If they were to restore those two holes that way, would that be enough to restore the eagle/double-bogey factor type thing, no matter what they did to 11 or 17?
GEOFF OGILVY: 13, they only moved the tee, what, 15 yards, 20? You used to be able to hit a draw, that when it started drawing it was around the corner. Now your draw isn't far enough before it draws. So your draw just ends up down next to the creek it. Doesn't get up far enough.
So you end up, a lot of the guys, half the field just hits driver and they can't even hit it through the fairway, so a bit of the interest of the tee shot, no one ever tries to draw it on 13 now, so you really only need ten yards on 13 and you can't go for that green with a wood. I mean, because you're up like this.
And 15 is just long. Yeah, it would be nice, part of growing up, the best part of watching the Masters was seeing if someone was going to eagle 13 or eagle 15. Tom Watson had two in '92, or '91 maybe when Woosie won, hit it in the water on 12 and eagled 13 and eagled 15. That's just completely far-fetched fantasy that is going to happen now.
So to answer the question, yes, I guess, because most of the excitement of the back nine came from potential doubles on 12, which has not changed, and eagles on 13 and 15. And 16 has not changed.

Q. Or doubles on 13 and 15.
GEOFF OGILVY: 17 and 11 are really long now, and harder than they were, but the excitement didn't come from 17 and 11. They came from 13 and 15. So, yeah, you are probably right, probably.

Q. We have seen what guys in their 40s can do out here, be it Vijay or Kenny Perry and I'm sure I'm leaving somebody out, maybe Calcavecchia one of these years, but you can count on one hand the number of guys beyond 45 who have won a major. Why do you think that is?
GEOFF OGILVY: Majors are hard to win. There's less of them. There's only four chances a year, not 40 chances a year.
Long weeks physically, maybe. I don't know. I haven't been 46, so I don't know how tired a 46-year-old is at the end of a golf tournament. I know how tired I am at the end of a U.S. Open and every 40-something plus tournament you talk to, says, you don't understand what it feels like to get out of bed in the morning when you're my age. They all talk about how tired and sore they get in tournaments. Maybe that's an aspect.
There has not traditionally been, like you said, 15 years ago -- when Nicklaus won, it was the most farfetched; it was ridiculous, he was 46. But now, if Vijay won the Masters, you wouldn't think twice. What's Vijay now? And Freddie is nearly 50. He's been up there in the Masters, three years ago he was.
They are just more competitive now. Maybe it will happen more in the future, I don't know. It's just hard to win majors. You would think experience-wise they would have a big advantage.

Q. I wonder about the putting. Do you think nerves change the older you get, especially when you are looking at greens that are that firm and fast at a major, more so than a regular TOUR event?
GEOFF OGILVY: They used to. All guys used to have putting troubles when they got older, old guys, that generation. They all grew up with that, look at Johnny Miller and Weiskopf, that's how they had to putt because of the way the greens were. Now you look at Loren Roberts and those guys, they stroke it like they are 18. That's the first generation that came through on smooth, firm, fast bentgreens and they never had anything to stroke.
I don't know fits a nerves thing. I think in the old days their nerves got to them because their technique started so horribly. It's not their fault, just the way they had to putt in those days. I don't know.

Q. You're obviously aware that this will be the first tournament in eight months stroke play that Tiger is in the field that you're playing in.
GEOFF OGILVY: Is it? (Laughter).

Q. It is, actually, yeah. (Laughter) When he's in the field, do you follow his progress during the tournament? Do you get on the computer after the first round and look at what he's shot, or do you just wait to see where he turns up on the weekend?
GEOFF OGILVY: I would say yes, because I do look at the computer every night when I get home, but not specifically to look at his score. Generally you will look at his score, but I will look at all my friends and I might look at what the stats guy got me down for the day, if it was accurate or not. (Laughter).
Yeah, you click through the leaderboard a few times. You obviously look to see what Tiger had, what Phil had, what guys you are interested in had.
But I don't specifically turn the computer on to see what Tiger shot, no. But you notice, if I'm looking at it.

Q. Who are you interested in?
GEOFF OGILVY: Who am I interested in?

Q. Friends?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, friends, maybe guys I played a practice round with that week. Guys I played with last week if they were playing well. Just guys you bumped into in the gym in the morning. Just friends.

Q. You said after the Masters last year that you thought the course was just too hard for you, and you led the field with pars, with 54, and only had six birdies. Did you mean that it was too hard to make birdies?
GEOFF OGILVY: Augusta? I probably said that -- that walk -- when you've had 74 or whatever and you walk from the last, the 18th green to the clubhouse, generally a poor time to get an objective answer. (Laughter).
But saying that, the course is really hard. I think there's some -- hard is good when there's a balance with 13 or 15, if there's eagles and birdies out there. Augusta always had some crazy hard stuff, but it had times where you to make up for that. 11 and 12 were hard, but you had 13 afterwards.
You get through 15 and 16, and then you've got to play 17, which is one of the hardest holes in the world because it's this wide and greens like this; and 18, that you can't even get to the fairway bunkers on 18, and you can be hitting 3-irons on 18.
I think I have lost that great balance of some super-hard stuff with some chances to make birdies. I think the birdie chances have gone away, and it's all kind of hard now.
But as I said, if you had asked me probably half an hour after I finished, I probably would have been a little more politically correct with the answer. I think it is harder, which is I think what people were saying, the lack of excitement; it's not just birdies and eagles, you've got to have both. Augusta is generous, you had doubles on 12, and the guy eagles 13 on top of it, and then he bogeys 14 and he eagles 15 and he hits it stiff on 16. It's everything. It's not 54 pars.

Q. To follow up on that, with winning scores here, 12, 15, 17, a guy can post a pretty good score here over the years; it's been proven. If a major was 15, 17-under, do you have any problems with that? Do they always have to be -- players love a great, hard test, of course, but see a problem with --
GEOFF OGILVY: Have you polled the players on that, how many players love a good, hard test? (Laughter).

Q. You get the sense that they would. If a major was a 15-, 17-under par, would you have a problem with that?
GEOFF OGILVY: No problem at all. I think the majority of guys out here, want to get rewarded for good shots. They understand you've got to get punished for bad shots. And they want the guy who plays the best that week to win the tournament, whether that's 15-over or 15-under, that's not really relevant.
Sometimes you feel like you're playing golf courses, and they get so hard, that it's impossible when you play well to kind of have it show in your score. Oakmont, Tiger had the best round in history tee-to-green on Saturday, and he shot 1-over or something like that or 1-under, and he hit 18 greens. It was ridiculous, because the greens were so crazy, he didn't get to -- we don't now talk about Tiger's third round at Oakmont because he wasn't allowed to do it.
But one of the best majors, probably ten years ago, Bob May and Tiger at Valhalla, it was at least, 16-, 17-under, 18; I mean, how good was that tournament to watch? That was incredible. Tiger shot 18-under at Augusta, everyone was pretty happy with that. That started the problem, didn't it. (Laughter).
It just needs to reward the guy -- I think it needs to reward the guys that are playing the best. Guys are sick of missing by a yard and having to chip it four yards out of the fairway, and the guy who is a yard away is hitting the green and making the birdie. There needs to be a correlation to how you play and how you score, and sometimes when it gets so hard, there isn't.

Q. You were talking about how many pars you had at Augusta last year, but if I'm not mistaken, the year before, you may have led the field in birdies and a couple of others got in the way. Do you feel like maybe people are discounting your chances there that you should be more of a favorite going into the Masters this year, the way you're playing and the way you have shown you can play the course?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. I think I'm a fair chance to do well there. I think it's a course that suits -- if I play well, that kind of suits me a little bit.
Yeah, the year before, I think I made triple or quad on the second hole in the tournament, and then didn't I make 9 on 15 on Saturday? Apart from that, I was right there. (Laughter) Apart from those eight shots, I was right there.
I think it's a course that I could do okay, and if I play like I have this year, I would hope if I played like that, that I would have some sort of chance on Sunday, anyway. They are the same type of greens I grew up on, like big, sweeping putts on bentgrass, so I feel like it's a place where I should be able to do well if I play well.

Q. Question about one of your compatriots. Is it possible Harrington is going into the Masters maybe even slightly under the radar, given he's won two majors in a row, he's halfway to the wraparound Grand Slam and it seems like more people are talking about McIlroy, another Irishman, than they are about Harrington now; Tiger is back and all of these other things going on, is Augusta too hard. Seems like he's about storyline No. 4 or five on the list.
GEOFF OGILVY: Which is unbelievable, because winning two majors in a row doesn't happen very often.

Q. I don't think a European had done it, or it had been decades?
GEOFF OGILVY: Faldo nearly did it in '99, he missed it by a shot add Medinah. And then he won at St. Andrews, so he won two-out-of-three.
Did Seve? No, because he never won -- yeah, I'm sure he is. Tiger has taken away from every other golf story in the last few months, which is fair enough. He's the biggest story in golf when he's playing, and when he takes eight months off, it's obviously a big story.
Rory is getting a lot at the moment, and rightfully so. He's warranted a lot of hype. But Harrington has played his whole career under the radar, a little bit, which he probably likes, I don't know. I think he should be under discussion. It should be a big story going into Augusta, because how often does a guy have a chance to win three majors in a row. So it should be a big story.
Hopefully it becomes a bigger story than it is, like you say today.

Q. Phil had a chance at Winged Foot.
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, he did.

Q. You obviously have a strong command of golf history. How much interest in it, call yourself an historian? You seem to have this recall.
GEOFF OGILVY: I recall stuff that has happened in my lifetime because all I ever did was watch golf tournaments when I was young.
I would have above average of the TOUR players, because I would say half the TOUR players don't have an interest. But there are some guys who are really impressive with their golf history. I'd be in the middle. I'm interested. But I couldn't tell you who won the 1947 British Open.

Q. Fred Daly.
GEOFF OGILVY: Good guess, I don't know.

Q. What about 53?
GEOFF OGILVY: 53 was Hogan, because that's a fairly easy one. (Laughter).

Q. Who are those guys that you say are better historians than you?
GEOFF OGILVY: Ben Crenshaw, but he's not on TOUR anymore. I don't know about current players, but guys like Crenshaw, he could tell you who came in third -- actually Ken Thompson came in third in 53. (Laughter).
But there's got to be a few, time sure.

Q. Anthony Kim, maybe?
GEOFF OGILVY: Probably not Anthony Kim. (Laughter).
Tiger is probably pretty good. Tiger would be up there.

Q. What would be your favorite memory of the Masters from television?
GEOFF OGILVY: My least favorite was '96, and I think it was Nick Faldo. But as an Australian, that was a hard day. That wasn't fun.
The run, I mean, because I really specifically remember watching '86 on a tape. But I was only nine, so I don't know how much do I actually remember watching that day. You don't grasp the weight of that when you're nine, do you, how good of a day that was.
Probably that whole run through the early 90s when Woosie won, that was a great finish, because there was plenty of guys there. And then Freddie won, he hung on in the back in '92. That period through the early 90s, that was when I was at my highest obsession with watching the golf tournament. Like we would get up early in the morning in Australia, three or four o'clock in the morning and watch the whole thing.
Late 80s, '86, '87, I distinctly remember it hang, Larry Mize chipping in, but again, I didn't grasp the unluckiness of that when I was ten. Oh, he just chipped in to win a big tournament.
But watching him being in contention and making two eagles on the back nine after making double on 12 and stuff like that. But after, if you tell me -- if you got me to watch one of them, I would watch '86 again, because that was just ridiculous. That was fantastic. Everyone was there, Seve, Langer, Norman, Nick Price.

Q. When you had fun and infatuation watching those golf tournaments as a kid, when you went out to the practice green the next day, what putt did you fantasize about making, to win what tournament in?
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, in April, after you had watched the Masters, all of your putts and up-and-downs and all of your fantasize you were to win the Masters. But the fantasy changed depending on what tournament you just watched. If I just watched the Australian Open finish, it would be to win the Australian Open.
The British Open was always hard for us to watch because it starts at eleven o'clock at night and finished at four o'clock in the morning. I would always fall asleep at the end of the tape, but it would wake me up when the videotape got to the end of recording at three o'clock in the morning and I would go back to bed.
But at that time, it was the British Open in July and then the putt to win the PGA. My fantasies were generally seasonal (laughter).

Q. When you're on the course and you're on fire, what kind of thoughts do you have? Do you like to have a swing thought, or do you like to see the shot or not think any technical stuff?
GEOFF OGILVY: I try not to get too technical. Sometimes it's hard to avoid if you're working on stuff in your golf swing and stuff. I usually have a very basic swing thought or swing feel.
I'm kind of trying to feel for the period that -- I would like to say for the week, but a swing thought never really works for a whole week. It might work for a day and a half and kind of goes away and chip away at finding another one.
I just try to bounce back and forward from positive swing thought. Nothing technical, just like an intangible, you couldn't explain it to someone. Just a feel of your weight shift or rhythm. I just try to have one basic kind of feel like that, really.
I'm not a very good visualizer, but I would say I feel-ize the shot, I feel-ize the shot I want to hit, rather than see the shot I want to hit.

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