As befits a man who had just shot the highest-score in his threesome, Geoff Ogilvy wasn’t exactly all smiles at the end of his opening round of 70 in this Emirates Australian Open. But the 2010 champion – fresh from a T-4 finish in the recent Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas – also had the look of a man who has something better than a two-under par round in him over the next three days.
For all his struggles over the last 12 months (Ogilvy is playing the PGA Tour this season on a one-time exemption earned through his position amongst the top-40 all-time career money-winners on the US circuit), the 39-year old Melburnian knows more than most what it teases to win this championship around Royal Sydney. It took two birdies on the last two holes of the final round from John Senden back in 2006 to prevent Ogilvy from adding his national title to the US Open crown he won earlier that same year.
Still, none of that was, initially at least, brightening his mood at the end of day one here.
“Typically frustrating,” was his initial assessment of a round that contained four birdies and two dropped shots. “I almost played okay. But I didn’t hit the ball very well and wasted plenty on the greens. Having said that, 70 is fine. To be under par on a day like that is in a way encouraging. I can play a lot better than that.
“Looking back, three to get down from just off the green at the second wasn’t good. I three-putted the 6th hole from nowhere. But what was most disappointing was the weakness of my misses in the 10-12 foot range. Not many of them looked like going in. If they had hit the hole and missed – and I had shot the same score – I’d be feeling a lot better about my day. But at least I can walk off and say, ‘no damage done.’”
As ever, Ogilvy had some kind words for his playing partners, US Amateur champion Curtis Luck (67) and world number five Jordan Spieth (69).
“I was impressed with how Curtis performed,” said Ogilvy, who first played in this championship as an amateur back in 1996. “He played really well and scrambled well when he had to. He knows how to play. There are a lot of kids out there who ‘mint’ it and do everything perfectly. But when it goes wrong they can’t get round. Curtis isn’t like that. He didn’t ‘mint’ it today but he played golf. He’s a lot like Jordan in that respect. He might not have looked like shooting a lower score than he did today, but there was no time he looked like shooting more than 67 either.”
Such talk at least had the effect of lightening his mood, too. Suddenly, there were positives to take from a round that has done nothing to damage his prospects of adding his name to the Stonehaven Cup for a second time.
“The positives for me are that I shot two-under par and felt like I left a few out there,” he said. “There’s good things happening and if that continues the lowest score I can shoot over the next three rounds should be better than it was today.”