Date: September 02, 2014
Author: Mike Clayton /

Beating the doubters

One of the more frustrating things about playing professional golf is people making assumptions from far away on how you might be playing. They unsurprisingly make those assumptions based on results and admittedly it’s hardly unreasonable.

It can be exasperating for a player to be constantly asked why his golf is poor when he feels his form is very close to being pretty decent and it was the case for much of this season for the 2006 U.S Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.

His last tournament in 2012 was the Australian PGA at Coolum.

There, he had to birdie one of his final three holes to finish inside the top 50 in the world and guarantee a place in the field at Augusta the following spring. He made three pars, finished up 51st and despite an increasingly desperate struggle early season to get back into the top 50 he again missed by a couple of spots and for the first time in many years he would watch The Masters the way the rest of us do – on television.

The rest of the 2013 season was discouraging and at last year's Emirates Australian Open his tee to green play, whilst far from terrible, was some way from his best stuff. Pro golfers never mind when their poor shots repeatedly and predictably miss on one side of the golf course.

Everyone misses shots. The problems come when the misses are both left and right. It’s exactly what happened to Ian Baker-Finch. Tiger Woods is presumably trying to work out why his driver goes both ways and until he does he isn’t going to win anything major again.

Ogilvy at Royal Sydney had the two-way miss going and as Peter Thomson once said, ‘You can’t set a field for that.’

This season in America was barely any better if results were the measure. There was no invitation to Augusta, he missed the cut at the US Open, didn’t play the British Open and with three events to play in the regular season he looked likely to miss the top 125 players on the money list.  Whilst his exemption from re-qualifying for the tour was secure it was a shocking result for one so talented.

Just after Hoylake he wrote a column for a local golf magazine where he spoke about the frustration of enduringly poor results but how the struggle forced an evaluation hopefully leading to some better play.

He is not, and never has been, one to practice his way back to good form. Indeed he discussed in his column how counterproductive ball beating was for him.

Thomson himself discovered the same as a young man in the early 1950s and no doubt decades from now a young man somewhere will reach the same conclusion. It’s something each player has to work out for himself. Thomson’s hero was Ben Hogan, a man for which he had the greatest admiration yet Hogan was one to take the path of relentless practice.

Ogilvy’s finished up his column saying, ‘don’t worry about me,’ I’m playing well and I’ll be fine.”

The magazine came out the same week he headed, without much enthusiasm, to Reno, and the tour event opposite the World Championship event at Firestone.

For one who had long been in the top 50 and an automatic starter in the majors and WGC events it was something of a comedown but golf is an effective game as there is a humbling element for even the best players.

He won in Reno, earned a place in the PGA Championship, played decently enough at Valhalla and made it to the first playoff event in New Jersey. He missed the cut there, assumed his chance to advance any further in the playoffs had gone and began planning a holiday.

Someone missed a putt at the end at Ridgewood and with fate on his side Ogilvy scraped into the Deutsche Bank event in Boston in the 100th and final place.

He likes the Gil Hanse redesigned course, and half way though his second round he was well up the leader board but rather than take advantage of a good opening nine he stumbled back to the clubhouse, barely breaking forty on the back nine.

Nine pars to begin the third day was hardly an indication of what was to come but instead of coming back in 39 he eagled the 18th for 29. It’s difficult following one great round with another but he finished with another 65 and a tie for second place behind the unlikely Chris Kirk.

From 100th he jumped well inside the top 30 and not only a place in the next playoff event at historic Cherry Hills in Denver but in all likelihood a place at Tour Championship at East Lake and all it entails including a return to Augusta.

Already Golf Australia has announced a wonderful field for the Emirates Australian Open including Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jordon Spieth and Adam Scott.

Hardly qualifying to be one of the favourites six weeks ago, Ogilvy now will be one of the more likely winners. More importantly we get to see with our own eyes how is he playing and all indications are it will be a level up from the struggle that was last year at Royal Sydney.