Refreshed after a month off and his game rejuvenated following a victory on the US PGA Tour, Victorian Geoff Ogilvy will start one of the favourites at the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup this week.
Following a lengthy period of struggling on the tour, Ogilvy bounced back to take out the Barracuda Championship in August and finished in the top 30 in the world at the Tour Play-Off Championship.
The victory was his first in the US in four years and his eighth overall and he is convinced of a bright season ahead.
“I had a win late and had a good run in the play-offs,” Ogilvy told The Australian. “If you said at the start of the year you were going to win a tournament and make the top 30, when you’re playing on the PGA Tour that’s a pretty good year.
“I am hitting the ball better than I ever have. The last four or five months the general improvement has been ball striking. It’s better than it ever was."
Around the greens he is not so confident but is says his touch will return.
“The putting — it’s a bit more hit and miss. When it’s good it is back to where it was. I had a few really great weeks the last few months of the year. If I can get the regular putting back I think good things will happen.”
He said he was ready for a break after an intensive schedule in the US towards the end of the Tour season.
“I played seven of the last eight weeks and I was ready to have a break,” he said.
“I was pretty over it. It’s a pretty long run of big tournaments. It’s not like we’re not used to playing big tournaments — it’s just that every week is so important.
“I am back into it again. I just think you have to get sharp again," he said. "When I was younger I couldn’t keep my hands off the clubs. I used to have to play after two days. I have a lot more going on now.
"I have three kids going to school. The last three weeks I wake up in the morning and I take them to school, do a few things, wait for them to get home.
“It’s nice to be normal, to be in one place. I haven’t missed the golf at all I must say.”
Ogilvy believes he still has the ability to add another major to his 2006 US Open triumph and says he is already on the right path.
“I knew it was back before anyone was able to tell it was coming back. You can tell when you’re starting to hit the ball better and feeling better about it. Everything I was saying the last couple of years I would have been believing.
“But it’s much easier to come with more confidence when you have recent good play, good results. It’s nice to come back and play really well.”
He says he will have to lift his form to contend at another grand slam event though.
“Obviously I have to play better than I have the last few years but when I play well, I compete pretty well with most of these big boys.
“I feel like I can hang with them when I am playing well. I am always comfortable when I get up in contention. I would just love to get back in the mix in those big tournaments.
“I feel like if I can have a few chances over the next few years, I can’t see any reason why I can’t win one or two of those. It’s in there. I am back in all four majors next year."
Meanwhile, Queenslander Scott Hend collected his first European Tour title at the Hong Kong Open after beating Angelo Que in a play-off in Fanling.
Hend has won full status on the European Tour and can play in both Asia and Europe for the next two seasons at least. The cheque for €171,000 represents Hend’s second biggest in the game after the US$306,000 he earned for finishing third at the 2004 Bell South Open.
He clinched the Open with a par on the first extra hole to edge out the Filipino.
“This means everything," Hend said. "I’ve won five times out here on the Asian Tour, and I’ve come very close on the PGA Tour and The European Tour and finally, finally, at the age of 41, I’ve won a European Tour event. It’s very special.
“This one is for my kids. They have been sending me music messages the last three mornings. So yeah, it’s very much to be treasured.”
Victorian Marcus Fraser, in his first tournament back in nearly eight months after a hand injury, finished an impressive fifth while Asian Tour rookie compatriot Cameron Smith was ninth.
By: Robert Grant