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April 7, 2009

Geoff Ogilvy


CRAIG HEATLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to Geoff Ogilvy. Geoff is a six-time PGA TOUR champion. He's already won twice in 2009, Mercedes-Benz and the Accenture Match Play earlier in the year. And of course he also won the 2006 U.S. Open.
Geoff, this is your fourth Masters appearance, very warm welcome back here. It's our pleasure to have you here, and we'll invite questions, please.

Q. From when you first came here, you had obviously quite a fondness for this place. Do you still have the awe when you come here, or when you come here, do you think to yourself, this is a golf tournament I can win, rather than be sort of in love with the place?
GEOFF OGILVY: A bit of both. The very first visit you ever have is a pretty special visit. It's a pretty -- just the whole mystique about the place. You've been looking forward your whole life just to going down Magnolia Lane and seeing the golf course and stuff.
I mean, that part is going away, obviously, once you've seen the course a few times and you've been here. I still love the place. I love coming here every year. I come for practice rounds before the tournament every time; partly because I like to prepare for the golf tournament, and in part mostly because I just like coming here.
So mostly now I see it as a golf tournament -- the first year you come here, you're a bit of a tourist, aren't you, a little bit. You get that out of your system after your first year or so. Then I just come here to enjoy a golf tournament that I like playing in, yeah, and trying to win it.

Q. This is a follow-up to that. Your game obviously seems to be quite suited, hitting a high ball and having a pretty sharp short game. How do you analyze your chances here in terms of how it suits you?
GEOFF OGILVY: I think it's a course that suits me quite well. I think there's a bit of space off the tee, which is handy for someone who has never led the driving accuracy stats. The greens are very similar style to the Sandbelt in Melbourne, where if you miss it on the wrong side, you've got no chance, and if you miss it on the right side, it's relatively simple. It's more about working out, where to miss it and not miss it in the wrong spots; and super fast, breaking putts like we have in Melbourne. There's a lot of things about this place that suits me.
But mostly, this golf course is just learning it and learning from experience where to hit it and where not to hit it, and play shots that you're comfortable with and try to avoid the places that you're uncomfortable with.

Q. Can you just explain how your mind-set has changed since winning the U.S. Open in 2006, or if it has changed at all?
GEOFF OGILVY: I mean, I guess before the U.S. Open, I went to Majors thinking it would be nice to win one of these one day. I know I'm a good player and I know I could, but lots of stuff has got to go your way.
I guess now when I turn up to Majors, I know I can win one; I know if I play well, I'll be competing in there on the weekend. I guess it's just, I went from thinking about winning Majors to knowing I can, and I come here -- I don't know how you say that the right way, but more confident about it I guess.

Q. Is that added belief then?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, a bit more belief I would say, yeah.

Q. Do you feel that you have been carrying that belief in PGA tournaments and the WGCs this year?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it definitely helps, after you win a tournament like that, it makes you feel like a better player for sure. It also has a slight negative affect at first, especially the first 6 or 12 months, because now you start expecting to play well all the time. Just because you win a golf tournament your not any different player than you were before so you're still going to have bad tournaments and it takes a while, I guess, to come to terms with the fact that you're not going to win every week.
But in the long run, it's all positive that comes out of it and it's belief. Most of these majors, most of winning these majors, I think, is a belief thing. There's plenty of guys who have got the game to win; to have the low score for four rounds around here, there's probably less guys who believe that they can do that.
So I think belief is pretty important.

Q. With your current good form and you're, sorry to say, disappointing effort last year, where do you think your game sits this year, and where do you plan to sort of improve on to improve your result this year?
GEOFF OGILVY: Have less shots than I did last year, really. Last year was just one of those years. I won Doral about three or four weeks before; I finished second at Houston before I got here and I thought I was playing well. I hit the ball well all week but just didn't make any putts. And when I missed greens, missed it in the wrong spots and you make bogeys out of bad shots. Just one of those weeks where nothing really went my way without really playing that badly.
You don't have to do much wrong around here to rack up a few big numbers. So I mean, it's simple, but just have less shots, try to miss it in smarter places and try to maybe -- the only way I'll say is try to score better than I did last year, because I didn't play that bad.

Q. Tiger was just in saying he's not going to play today because it's not going to be anything like the tournament on Thursday. What's your take on preparation in conditions like this? Did you play today?
GEOFF OGILVY: I didn't play today. I am going to play tomorrow. If it's going to be nothing like this in the golf tournament, then I think the only reason you'd be out there is the guys who have not played the course very much, I know they are still learning it and still excited to play and want to be out there.
It's a similar-type day to the weekend days we've had in the last few years, similar to the day we had when Zach won, freezing cold and quite windy. The forecast is for quite warm and a little bit of wind, isn't it?
I think if you played yesterday or you're planning on playing tomorrow -- I was here a week and a half ago and I played a couple of rounds, so I've got a feel for the course again this year. So once I saw the forecast last week, I was planning to take the day off. It's going to be a frustrating experience.

Q. What is your sense on who the best clutch, must-make putter in the game's history is?

Q. Easy answer?
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, he hasn't missed one yet. I mean, he will -- or maybe he will. Who knows.
But he makes that putt at Bay Hill last week, or two weeks ago, and everyone is impressed but no one is surprised. And I say that because I've spent the last ten years watching him make clutch putts, whether I was there or on TV, and I didn't get to do that with Jack or I guess Bob Jones was a fair clutch putter, too.
But I'm sure they missed some, and maybe Tiger by the time it's all said and done, he'll have missed one or two that he needed to make. Anyone who makes that putt the last hole at Torrey Pines last year gets my vote.

Q. Does it seem to you that he almost wills the ball to go into the hole?
GEOFF OGILVY: Makes it seem like that. Seems like that. That's obviously not possible. You can will yourself to hit the right putt I think. He seems to be so composed, and if he can be more focused -- he seems to get better. The late in the tournament, he gets better and better and he misses less and less putts and less and less shots. He can hit driver all over the place all day, but when it's a key shot in the 7th or 8th whole of a Major, he's that type of golfer. He has that ability to hit the right shots at the right time. Like I say, he's never missed one yet and he doesn't know how to miss it. It just builds and builds every time he has that putt on the last green and just assumes he's going to make it, or has a pretty solid belief that he is going to make it. It's pretty impressive to watch, really.

Q. From being here a couple of weeks ago, and presumably the weather was better, what did you think of the changes that they have made? A big effect or not much?
GEOFF OGILVY: The only change that I'm going to say that would make any difference is the new pin on 5 if it gets used. It's actually a reasonable pin to putt at, the one at the left, but it's an incredible pin to look at from the middle of the fairway, 180 yards away. It looks like it's off the front edge of the 6th tee.
But the smart play on 5 has always been to hit in the middle of the green and putt up to every pin. It's still going to be the same story; it's just an extreme-looking pin.
Talked about yardage differences on a few of the holes. It's really hard to tell on 7, because the stuff's all been fixed up behind the tee. It all depends where they put the tee markers I guess. I guess the one will be 5. If they use that front pin or the left pin on 5, that will be the difference. The rest of the course will be the same.

Q. Tiger was in earlier saying that this golf course more than the British Open is more impacted by conditions; would you agree with that, and why?
GEOFF OGILVY: I wouldn't, actually. The field average score at Birkdale last year would have been ten shots better a round than it is here. I don't think the field average score goes up ten shots here. Maybe it does. Maybe it is. The Open courses are more capable of more extreme weather. So maybe if you had the same day as this out in Turnberry, this is a normal day, you know. It doesn't get that much better than this.
Maybe a little less windy. Probably the greens are a bit easier I guess on a links when the wind is up. I don't know. The last couple of years have been really tough on the weekend. They each have their difficulties in the wind, I guess.

Q. Can you formulate an overall attack for the greens, like a special mind-set you take in?
GEOFF OGILVY: Just keep it below the hole wherever possible, really. If you follow that rule all week, you're better off to miss a green under the hole than you are to be above the green on the hole in a lot of spots. If you follow that rule with a couple of little exceptions here and there, you're probably going to do okay.
There's a few pins you have to stay away from, and there's a few pins that you really should go at. But they are the ones you learn along the way, but for the most part, I just try to keep it under the hole all week.

Q. What are your thoughts on Greg being back and getting another shot at this after the way he played last year at the British Open?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, it's cool. It's good to see him excited about golf again. I don't think he was -- he didn't seem to be excited about golf for the last few years, and the changes in his life seem to have fired him up on the golf course. It's good for golf when he plays golf tournaments. Houston was a better golf tournament last week because he was there.
This is going to be a better tournament because he's here. I mean, people forget, but he was the one that everybody went to see before Tiger came along. For that period of time, he was the charismatic guy that got the big crowds and was the exciting one to watch.
So it's cool to have him here, and especially a course like this where he's got so much history and he's had so many close calls. I'm glad for him that he gets another crack at it. Hopefully he does well. He has had so many Top-5s and Top-10s, I'm sure his experience and his wise ways around the golf course will have him in reasonable shape if he plays well.

Q. Do you think he's at all burdened by some of those close calls here, or do you think at this stage in his life, he's able to get past that?
GEOFF OGILVY: I'm sure he's well past it but I'm sure there's moments where he looks back and wonders, what if; he wouldn't be human if he didn't do that. I'm sure he's well past it and he's come to deal with it a long time ago. You wouldn't be human if you didn't look back every now and then and wonder, what if.

Q. I want to read a comment a fan of yours left online underneath the story but it says, "Good luck, please make Monday morning more interesting to us golfers in Australia." Considering what's happened here, how nice would it be to be the first to win here and do you feel any pressure on that?
GEOFF OGILVY: It would be really nice. It would be really nice to win this tournament, doesn't matter where you're from. It would be really nice.
It probably wasn't a thing before the Shark nearly won it, every year it seemed like for a while. But it became big, when is an Australian going to win this tournament, when Greg was up there every year. It would be really nice. Australia would be pretty excited on Monday morning if one of us Australians won the tournament for sure.
Pressure? Not so much. It's hard enough. We all put enough pressures on ourselves. They are the hardest ones to beat, not everybody else's. It would just be exciting. It would be more -- all of us would want to do it for Australia than rather feel like we have to, you know what I mean.

Q. Since you came on to the TOUR, how have you seen the change in the intimidation factor of playing with Tiger, and do you think it's the same now as it was back then?
GEOFF OGILVY: I've always played well when I've played with him, so I haven't seen -- it has not really changed for me. The very first time I ever played with him, that was in Germany; it's a fairly nervous handshake, from my side, anyway. I'm sure he didn't even look at who he was playing with.
But I played well that day, and after that -- we are almost the same age. So intimidation probably happens a lot less when you're the same age and you've grown up at the same sort of time. I'm sure when the young guys stand on the tee with him, because they have grown up, they were little kids when he won here for the first time.
But the only -- I've never really bought into the intimidation thing. It's not like a boxing match where the other guy is bigger than you and it's scary. If there is an intimidation, it's that you know he's going to make that putt on the last hole. You know coming down the last few holes that he is not going to go away, and he is going to do good stuff the closer you get to the end. That's the intimidating thing. You know if you let him have that putt on the last hole or that you let him have a chance, he is going to beat you. Whereas, you don't know that about anything else. Everybody else has had their moments and been up down and down but you know he's going to be there until the end, and maybe that forces to you push to hard or worry about the last hole when you're on the 13th or whatever it is.
I haven't actually come down the last five or six holes in a tournament yet where we have been right there, or not playing with him, anyway. I've never actually been recipient of any of that sort of stuff. But to me, that's the thing; you know you have to play well, and that's always hard.

Q. Just as a follow that to really quickly, can you then describe the difference in terms of what Tiger brings to what Phil brings in terms of 1 and 2 in the world, and what's the difference in that way?
GEOFF OGILVY: In the intimidation thing or just what they bring to a golf tournament?

Q. In terms of the intimidation, like what's the difference between them. Would you be less fearful of Phil or would you be -- (laughter).
GEOFF OGILVY: It's not fair to Phil, but you are definitely more fearful, if you are fearful, you would be less fearful of Phil. Phil can come with 72 holes of the most unbelievable golf anyone in the world can play; when he's on, he's on. At the Atlanta he won by I don't know how many and came here and basically was leading all week and won here. He can have periods where he's unbelievable, but he can also have periods where he's completely off the map. I guess when you are playing with Phil, or are you up there in a tournament with Phil, anything can happen.
With Tiger, the intimidation is you know that it's going to happen, or not that he's going to win, but you know he's going to play well. Phil is human, like most other guys on TOUR in that anything can happen sometimes. All of us can hit crazy shots in the last few holes of a golf tournament and Tiger doesn't seem to do it quite as frequently. He does it. DiMarco a few years ago, was it 2003? 2005; he bogeyed the last two holes, which you never would have imagined but then comes to the playoff holes and hits the two most perfect shots to make birdie. Phil would do less than that, for sure, just because he's less human than Tiger -- or more human than Tiger, sorry.

Q. An off-shot of that question, there was talk of a rivalry between them, especially here and now Padraig winning the last two majors, he's being thrown into that rivalry mix. Are you at that level and if not, what do you have to do to get yourself into that groove?
GEOFF OGILVY: You guys create rivalries. I don't think the players create rivalries. Rivalries are created in here.
I'm sure Padraig has won three of the last six majors, Tiger has won 300 majors, Phil has won three; win a few more majors, beat them down the stretch. Rivalries are made when guys play each other down the stretch. Trevino and Nicklaus; Watson and Nicklaus; Ernie and Tiger had a thing going there for a while. Coming down the stretch with those guys and beat them a couple of times, or they beat me close, that's how rivalries are created but as I say you guys create rivalries.

Q. Somewhere in today's conversation it was brought up that this golf course with all of the quirks that it has takes a certain number of times around here to really put yourself in a position of knowing enough about the golf course to challenge and perhaps win it. This being four times for you, how close would you be to that or how many times do you think it would take or are you there now?
GEOFF OGILVY: You don't have to have played here hundreds of times to contend and win. But the more you play it, the better off you are here. I played with Freddie a couple of years ago, and he hit tons of horrible shots, but every one of them went in a spot that was quite fine. He's one of the best over the last 50 years around this course, Freddie. I missed the cut for the first time last year, was it?
Yeah, the longer you play, the more your brain will just steer you towards the safe parts on the golf course and you'll be more and more comfortable. There's so many uncomfortable shots when you first get here, like on 13, you can't believe the wall is way up here and 10, you can't believe it's like this, and you just get more and more used to that.
I think I'm getting to the point where I'm quite comfortable around this golf course but I'm sure if you ask me in ten years' time, I'll be way more comfortable than I am now. Obviously, two rookies have only ever won here the first time, Fuzzy and Horton Smith. So it's obviously very difficult to win your first time. And as I said, your chances get better every single year you play I think.

Q. Along those same lines, you said you felt like a tourist your first week here; when did you no longer feel like a tourist here?
GEOFF OGILVY: The first time I came before the tournament, to really get that out of the way, to drive down Magnolia and see the course and take it all in; and by the end of the first week, I played quite well on Sunday. I kind of did half all right, having a few bogeys towards the end.
But I had a reasonable -- it's actually my best finish was my first year. And by the end of the week, I was playing a golf tournament, I had passed that kind of awestruck stage. But the first couple of times in here, you just can't help but look everywhere and go to all of the spots where all of the shots you saw when you were a kid and stuff.

Q. Where were you in 1996, and what was your reaction to what happened on Sunday between Greg and Nick Faldo?
GEOFF OGILVY: I was at home in Melbourne in Australia. Obviously got up early, very excited like most people did in Australia, and obviously was pretty -- it was a very hard day to watch. I don't think anybody was comfortable watching that day. Doesn't matter whose side you were on. It was a hard thing to watch.
Yeah, when the coverage starts, then it started when the leaders came up 9. Every single year, the leaders were hitting their tee shot on the 9th and Venturi is saying it came up short of the green and that's the first thing we saw in Australia. It was a hard thing to watch. You couldn't stop watching it, but it was stuff. I went straight off the golf club, as you do when you're 20, 19; because that's all you do, you hang out at the golf club all day. And it was quiet. It was a pretty down day in Australia. It wasn't very nice.

Q. Do you think he has a chance to play as well as he played in the British Open here? What would be the best you would expect to see with his game here?
GEOFF OGILVY: He could contend. It's a lot longer golf course than he saw before, but he was on the fringe of contending last week in Houston. And I wouldn't count -- I wouldn't look at how he did in the last round, because that was a horribly hard day. Not many people played well on Sunday. As I said, he's played here, I don't know, 25, 30 times, something.
He knows the course as well as Freddie and all of these other guys. He's going to hit it to the right spots. The greens haven't changed. He knows all the good spots to hit it. He knows all the little funny breaks that guys don't know. He's got so much history of hitting good shots around here, and as I said, you're in the No. 1 in the world for that long without being very wise when you play a golf course. If he brings the physical part of it, it's quite feasible to me that he could be somewhat a chance starting Sunday's round. Feasible, for sure.

Q. Back to that first Masters of yours, before you played well at the end, leading up to that, did you feel the mystique getting the better of you at any time when you were standing over a shot and have to back away, or went ahead and hit the shot when you shouldn't have?
GEOFF OGILVY: A little bit. Your whole life, you've been watching -- you get to Sunday and you come over the hill on 11 and near the pin really is way right on 12. All of the famous little things, and the pin is in the back left spot on 16. You almost want to hit that one that goes up to the right. You kind of want to hit all of these famous shots that you've seen on all these Sundays, because the pins are all the same, because the ones you've seen in the morning in Australia I can't remember the same for 20 years.
You catch yourself standing over a shot and looking up and, oh, look where I am; I'm actually hitting a shot on the 12th at Augusta. But you back off and that goes away quite quickly. Yeah, it's happened for sure.
CRAIG HEATLEY: Geoff, good luck this week and thanks for coming in.

End of FastScripts


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