He’s a major champion. He’s one of only a handful of players who have won multiple World Golf Championships. And, of course, he is a past winner of the Australian Open.
“In the past I’ve heard people describe winning their national Open as like a ‘fifth major,’” says Geoff Ogilvy, who won his at The Lakes in 2010. “But that isn’t quite how I feel about my victory. Right now, at this stage in my career, there are lots of tournaments that are more important for me to win than the Australian Open. There are the four Grand Slam events and the World Golf Championships. And any US Tour victory would bring with it a two-year exemption.
“But, looking back at the end of my playing days, there is no doubt that having won an Australian Open is going to be second only to my win at the US Open. Prize money and exemptions and all that are temporary. But there can’t be many trophies in golf with better names on it than the Stonehaven Cup.”
Of that Ogilvy is certainly correct. The list of past Australian Open winners reads like a Whos-Who of golf over the last century and a bit.
“I’m so proud to be on there with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Steve Elkington, Bruce Devlin, Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth,” continues Ogilvy. “Every Aussie who has been any good has won it and almost every foreigner who has come to play has done the same.
“So, looking back when I am finished playing, I will always view winning in 2010 as one of the most important weeks of my career. Victories in places like Tucson and Reno are just not going to have quite the same resonance.”
As for his chances this week, Ogilvy is more confident than you might expect him to be. 2014-15 was far from the best season of the 38-year old Melburnian’s career. Only once in his 15 appearances on the PGA Tour did he crack the top-ten. And so far in this still young 2015-16 campaign he has missed the cut in all three of his starts.
“I’ve never hit the ball better than I am right now,” he claims. “I’ve probably spent the last two or three years obsessing about my swing too much. But I feel like I’ve let go of that now. Now I ‘get’ my swing, why it went wrong when it went wrong and what’s going to make it go right. Now all I have to do is make a few putts.
“I’ve focused too much on my putting really. But I just have to play my way out of this whole thing. I’m better equipped to do so now, I think. My problems have been both temperamental and technical. As Ben Hogan wrote in his book, golf is a lot about trial and error. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve experimented with all kinds of different moves and feels. What happens when I put the ball back in my stance? What happens when I aim way right or left? It’s been a process of elimination really.
“What I’ve tried to do is what Michelangelo did with the block of marble he turned into the statue of David. He got rid of all the bits that did not look like David. I’ve tried to take away all the bits that don’t feel to me like my swing. A lot of the great swings don’t look as if they have many moving parts. And that’s what I’m trying to get to. Now it’s time for me to just go and play.”