Date: November 21, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Ogilvy: Scott, Leish absence a shame

Geoff Ogilvy has an answer to the problems of Australian golf tournaments, and it’s simple. Make them the best they can be, and be happy with that.

Ogilvy admitted that it was “disappointing’’ that Adam Scott and Marc Leishman declined to play the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian this week, although they will play the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines next week.

But he said the tyranny of distance, and the small size of the Australian economy, both worked against having full fields at an event like the Open, noting that at least the world No. 2 Jordan Spieth and former world No. 1 Jason Day are playing in Sydney this week.

“It’s a disappointing situation when Adam Scott’s not playing the Australian Open,’’ said Ogilvy, who is one of the most thoughtful of tour professionals as well as a close friend of Scott’s. “I don’t know if you can find blame or whatever, but it’s disappointing when he’s not playing and Marc Leishman too, two of the world’s favorite golfers, not only Australia’s favorites. It’s a shame.

“But it’s a pretty good field. I mean, Jordan and Jason … most golf tournaments would fall over themselves to get Jordan and Jason in their field. So that’s pretty good.’’

Asked if he had the solution, Ogilvy said:  “Money talks. Unfortunately it’s the reality of the modern world, and we play for so much money over there, a million dollars doesn’t move the needle for someone over there because they win that every week. We have a big tax obligation for a foreigner when they come here and that’s tough. But that’s always been there and it’s always going to be there, if we can just make our tournaments the best in every other way.

If we can’t deal with the money – because we can’t – our economy’s too small, it’s not realistic to play for $10 million or have budgets like you need to to get those fields. Play our best courses and give the players the best time and the spectators have the best time. Kind of like the (US) Masters does.

“I mean, they have a lot of money but they do everything right, they tick every box and everybody who goes in the gate has an amazing time. Yes they’ve got a big budget to do that, but you can do a lot of the stuff they do without a big budget. It’s just a head space. That’s what we’ve got to do, I think. Just make them amazing tournaments and then the money might come later on. I think we do all right. We could do better, but we do pretty well.’’

Scott’s absence in particular has caused a few raised-eyebrows this week although everyone acknowledges that both he and Leishman have been supporters of the local tour events.

Asked today about the absence, Golf Australia’s tournament director Trevor Herden put it pragmatically. “We tried hard,’’ said Herden. “There were offers made that probably weren’t good enough.’’

Ogilvy will be one of the contenders this week after retaining his playing card on the United States PGA Tour. While he went into the final round at Royal Sydney last year with a two-shot lead and ultimately faded to finish fourth behind Spieth, he does not regard it as one of his big misses.

Rather, he said he had been “faking it’’ during much of the first three rounds. “Of course I threw it away, but I didn’t throw away on purpose. My swing … I’d completely lost it by Sunday, I was just trying to find a way to get it done.’’

The disappointment did not linger for the 2010 Open champion. “I was over it before I got to the 18th fairway,’’ he said. “Whether you think that’s not right, I should be ‘pissy’, getting on the plane all depressed, and thinking that’s a big opportunity. I didn’t feel like that at all. I would have got away with that if I’d won that. That would have been a bonus.

“I walked away thinking ‘I nearly won the Australian Open playing shit’. That was the feeling. ‘That was a good effort how you’re playing’. I actually took positives from last year; from the outside it probably looked awful.’’