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January 20, 2010

Geoff Ogilvy


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for coming in and joining us, as always. Welcome to Abu Dhabi and happy new year to you. A lot of people come to Abu Dhabi come to start their year off with a swing but you are already ahead and well done with a win in Hawaii. Thoughts on the fantastic victory to start your own year.
GEOFF OGILVY: It was, obviously to win first golf tournament, come very early in the year -- to start in Hawaii, which is a bit of a reward for winning last year, it's one of the nicest tournaments because it's a tournament of champions from last year and just guys who won and it's a bit of a treat to go. And to win the first week is nice, and I was defending that, too, so it was a really nice way to start.
It's really good to have good form at the start of the year. I played quite a lot last year and didn't have quite as much time off as I might have liked to prepare, but must have had the right amount of time off, and even a few weeks ago I played very, very well.
It's a course I learned to really like, Kapalua and I've learned how to play it quite well. I really enjoy it, so I went there feeling decent. I felt really good about my golf game the last five or six weeks, actually, so the form the last month has been pretty good actually. Dubai I played really well actually and played a few in Australia. So we don't really have an off-season anymore, so rust really doesn't develop anymore. Form was pretty good.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Your thoughts on the National Course, and how did you play?
GEOFF OGILVY: I played well. Gets tougher off the tee, some narrow spots you have to fit it in the bunker, and the rough is long and thick and not a good spot to be, a couple long par 4s where if you're in the fairway you can make birdie. But if you're in the rough you're going to have some trouble and the greens are perfect. I mean, they are impeccable. Enjoyable.

Q. Given the Tiger hiatus at the moment, do you genuinely believe there's opportunity to get close to No. 1 in the world while he's away?
GEOFF OGILVY: Well, if he didn't play for a long time obviously someone else is going to get to No. 1. He may play next week for all that we know. I'm sure he's not going to, but if he didn't play for a while, or he didn't play as many tournaments as he had been playing, obviously there will be more of an opportunity because there will be points he won't be scoring that other people will be getting. It's really the great unknown.
He's always impressed when he's had lots going on around him, all of the expectation and pressure and crazy stuff, he's always been -- when he comes back he's going to be as good of a golfer as he was before.
Obviously if he comes back in a month, I'm sure his golf won't have changed, and I'm sure he'll win just as many tournaments and it will be very hard to get to him in the rankings. But if he plays less, then yes, someone can get close.

Q. Was it hard to switch to Titleist, and were you surprised to have won the first tournament?
GEOFF OGILVY: Titleist is a very easy company to go with. The two things that are really hard for us to change are ball and driver, and I didn't have to change the ball.
Driver, I really liked straightaway. I was quite happy to put it into play last year before I was supposed to. So it was a pretty smooth transition. It wasn't a frightening change; a couple of equipment changes are frightening because some companies have a completely different philosophy, but I was pretty excited, actually, with Titleist.
So no, because of that, I really wasn't surprised. Late last year I wanted to put all of the equipment in play.

Q. You suggested that the rough would be -- would that change your strategy anyway, maybe ease up to try to get on the fairways more comfortably?
GEOFF OGILVY: On some holes, for sure, I mean, the -- it's not long by any means in modern golf but it's quite thick. You're not going to have to hack it out, but it's a definite disadvantage and you're definitely better off being in a fairway better than being in the rough. It will be a thought -- inaudible -- there's a lot of holes that just kind of do this, like driving distance and 3-wood might fit in a lot better than a driver. Some holes will fit my eye and some holes will just look a bit wrong and I'll good a bit shorter.
It's definitely a big disadvantage to be in the rough as opposed to being on the fairway, but it's not the end of your hole. It's just a disadvantage.

Q. What sort of difference has the new grooves made to playing your short shots, particularly with the rough being so penal and not being able to get the amount of spin that you used to?
GEOFF OGILVY: I think actually out of thick rough like this, it's not going to make any difference because you couldn't -- out of thick rough, you had nothing anyway. I think where it's going to be different is in semi-rough, semi-rough stuff and the driver, that real kind of jumpy, scary rough -- I think the short shots are different, for sure.
We were lucky enough, I was practising quite a lot at the end of last year and was quite an adjustment. It's like using an old sand wedge really. It's different. It's not better or worse about you just different and you have to start seeing a different flight than we have been seeing.
So I think an adjustment I don't think is the right word. You've lost that real spin maybe out of the semi-rough from 50 yards, but you've also gained that you won't have to worry about spinning it off greens quite as much maybe; so you win some and you lose some.

Q. What is the reason you didn't come here --
GEOFF OGILVY: The first one, I'm not sure, probably I've often -- I had been playing Kapalua and the Sony, the week after in Hawaii I've played. I mean, from Hawaii to here is about three laps around the world it feels like. It's a long way from the West Coast in the U.S. and if you add another five hours -- I think perhaps a travel issue.
Last year was the first year I joined The European Tour again for quite a while and I thought about it last year but again a big travel issue.
But people have been coming back and talking this tournament up a lot, and players have been saying that this is really a place that you want to try to get on your schedule, so this year, I mean, everyone talks the tournament up. That's really how tournaments get good fields on Tour is word-of-mouth from players in the locker room, hey, they really look after you, it's a fun one, it's a good course, and so it's one that the guys have been talking about and it was a priority.

Q. Rust will be a factor with much of the field; do you think that's an advantage having your game so into gear early in the year?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's going to help, for sure. I think as I said, we play so late in Australia that there's no true off-season anymore, especially for guys who are playing in Australia. But maybe a guy who has not played since Dubai, that's, seven weeks ago perhaps, it will be a little bit -- it's definitely an advantage to have won a golf tournament, for sure.
Some guys thrive after a break and some guys need to play coming into form and I think you'll see both. Some guys need to play weeks in a row just to find some form and I think you'll see some players really do well and some players do well because they are fresh. Some guys may perhaps be some rusty, short game isn't quite working yet and maybe it's cold back in the U.K. A bit of both I think.

Q. When you sort of win early in the season as you've done the last couple of years, what does it do for your confidence?
GEOFF OGILVY: It obviously helps, I mean, obviously over the off-season, Christmas or whenever you get to sit down and assess what you did last year and what you want to do the next year. Winning is pretty high on your priority list, and winning one tournament necessarily -- when you get that done the first week, that reinforces the confidence you start the year with, and maybe you can win some more. It definitely helps. I felt great the first month last year after winning the first week. It's a big boost. It would be like winning the first race in the F1, it's just nice to get off to a good start.

Q. A big Open at St. Andrews this year, and you like that course a lot; can you just talk about the eager anticipation or whatever you feel?
GEOFF OGILVY: I've been eagerly anticipating that since '05 actually. Yeah, it's very, very close to my favorite golf course in the world. I think it's the premiere golf tournament that gets played, ever. It's a pretty special place, pretty special tournament. Basically the best golfers in history have won there, every time, almost, with the exception of John Daly who will go down as one of the most talented players that's ever played golf.
Yeah, I'm pretty excited. It's a fantastic town to spend a week. It's where golf as we know it began and everything about it is exciting. This is really the year to really look forward -- you look forward to all the majors but this is the year you really look forward when you get Pebble and St. Andrews in a four-week period, that's spoiled.

Q. Touching on those two majors, obviously Tiger has owned St. Andrews in the past; now you talk about him being really good about dealing with stuff and coming back, and you expect him to come back probably as good. On the flip side, will the players -- do you think players' attitudes toward him will have changed? Do you think some that were intimidated in the past will be slightly less intimidated? Do you anticipate a change of that sort amongst the players?
GEOFF OGILVY: Perhaps. Maybe guys will be slightly less intimidated, it's hard to know. The first few weeks will be interesting, if he goes out and wins the first or second week again, he's going to gain that whole aura back again. He developed it not through the way he behaves really, but because he wins six times a year really.
So it's going to be different but I don't know which way it's going to be different. And on the two golf courses, I'm sure I could speak -- I know St. Andrews is his favourite golf course, and I know it's the one that really excites him about picking it apart and playing it really well. 2000 was really impressive when he didn't hit in a bunker all week, and obviously it's a course that he is enthusiastic about playing the right way.
I think he'll be fine and he really prides himself on the history and stuff and history says the No. 1 in the world is supposed to win the St. Andrews Open almost as far back as you can go. And he knows that. So it's a tournament that he would probably pick over most. But who knows, he might not have -- he might have only played a few tournaments by then and he might still not have it, I don't know. I don't know if his intimidation will be different intimidation but it will still be there.

Q. If you had to play with him the first tournament he comes back, would you have a laugh and a joke with him about it, or what would you do?
GEOFF OGILVY: Guys will react differently but the craziness is going to go on because there's going to be non-golf media that's going to be around and that's always interesting when there's non-golf media around. Who knows. I don't know, it's hard playing with him anyway with all of the craziness that goes on. You get used to it but it's different. Especially that first week he comes back, it's going to be a circus. So it will be hard if you have to play with him that week for sure.

Q. (Where do you think would be the best tournament for him to return to in that regard).
GEOFF OGILVY: I think the least amount of circus he could face would be if he went to Augusta first. That would be the most controlled environment he could be in, but if he truly, truly wants to win Augusta, he's going to want to play before then.
I think he should actually come out in public before not at a golf tournament. I think he should come out away from the golf course, one, out of respect for all of the other players, and two, to diffuse the circus part of it at least before he actually gets to the golf tournament I think would be the best thing for him, and for every other player and for the tournament. I don't believe a lot of tournaments want all the tabloid media floating around.
It would be nice if he came out away from a golf tournament, and when he came out to a golf tournament and it would still be big and crazy but that tabloid edge might be gone.

Q. On that basis, would you rather not -- is it going to be a disadvantage to the first two players who end up playing with Tiger when he returns?
GEOFF OGILVY: It's going to be a big day. Depending on if he doesn't show in public until he gets to a golf tournament, then yeah, I suppose it is going to be crazy. But if he has, then -- I mean, the first conference he does is going to be the crazy one, isn't it, really. A lot of people who have been afraid to ask questions for ten or 12 years won't be quite as hesitant to ask questions as they used to be.
And he's going to have to answer questions. At a golf tournament, it's going to be crazy whatever happens, and there's going to be a lot of stuff going on inside the ropes, or even just outside the ropes when he comes back, so yeah, it would probably not be ideal to have to play with him.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Should he do an Oprah Winfrey special, do you think?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know what he should do. I definitely think he should choose a forum that wasn't a golf tournament. I think it would be best for him and everybody, I don't know, controlled environment; he could control it a little bit, the craziness.

Q. What tournament do you think will be his first to play?
GEOFF OGILVY: I don't know. Most guys are just wondering where he is. Everyone probably has a different opinion about what's been going on.
Everyone wants him back. I mean, everyone wants him back. Golf tournaments are more enjoyable when he's there. It's not a hollow victory when you win when he's not there but it's a lot better when you win one when he is there. He's still at 34 the best player ever up to this point in his career.
If he continues it on, he may be the best ever but for the last 14 years, it's been pretty impressive. It's still better to have him around. I think most guys want him back. I think guys just the curiousity, everyone wants to know, everyone wants the full scoop of where he is, and everyone just wants to get back to normal.

Q. What question would you like to ask him most?
GEOFF OGILVY: What were you thinking. (Laughter) I'm just amazed, how do you manage to be -- nobody knew, everyone thought he just left the golf course and went to his hotel. I didn't even know he went out. I don't know, how did nobody know? I'm amazed. Tiger Woods is quite recognisable.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much, Geoff, as always and good luck this week.

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