Australia’s Greatest Golfer Geoff Ogilvy v Wayne Smith

The 2006 US Open champion takes on a man who went toe-to-toe with the best players in a halcyon period for golf in this country in our latest match-up to uncover Australia’s Greatest Golfer.

The way Mark Waugh caressed a cover drive; the silky skill of Essendon legend Michael Long.

Geoff Ogilvy’s career will not be defined by the number of tournament wins but the significance of those in which he was victorious and the almost artistic way in which he did it.

A talented teen but with a temper that needed curtailing, what has defined Ogilvy’s career over the past 20 years is his need to be mentally engaged in order for the depth of his talent to shine through.

He has just two wins in Australia but they are our two most prestigious titles, the 2008 Australian PGA Championship and 2010 Australian Open.

His PGA TOUR record of eight wins is populated by a major championship and three World Golf Championships, one of only five players to have three or more WGC wins to their names.

The others? Tiger Woods (18), Dustin Johnson (6), Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy (3 each).

If you needed further proof that Ogilvy’s best flex comes when the fields are at their strongest, two of his other PGA TOUR wins came at the annual congregation of the previous year’s PGA TOUR winners in Hawaii.

But without question Ogilvy’s crowning glory came at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club and the 2006 US Open.

Opening with a 1-over par round of 71, Ogilvy moved inside the top five with a 70 in the second round yet even as the unassuming Victorian sat one shot back going into the final round attention was being focused elsewhere.

Phil Mickelson’s quest for a US Open title was at fever pitch and Colin Montgomerie was positioned to win his first major yet it was Ogilvy’s demeanour under pressure that won the day.

A critical chip-in at the 17th hole and superbly-executed up-and-down when his approach into 18 rolled off the front of the green secured Ogilvy a one-shot victory as he joined David Graham as the only Aussies to win the United States Open.

Wayne Smith’s career came during a golden era for Australian golf which at once both presented opportunities and challenges.

Like Ogilvy’ Smith’s win tally doesn’t completely illustrate the impact he had on Australian golf in the 1990s.

The first Australian to be recruited to a US college, the two-time All American at the University of Georgia returned to win the Australian Amateur in 1983 and in 1984 was the PGA Tour of Australasia Rookie of the Year.

The 1986 Victorian PGA was one of only three significant tournament wins but Smith’s name was a perennial one near the top of Aussie leaderboards.

Runner-up at the 1994 and 1995 Heineken Classics (to Mike Clayton and Robert Allenby respectively), Smith played second-fiddle to Nick O’Hern at the 1999 Schweppes Coolum Classic and finished second to Craig Parry at the 1995 Canon Challenge.

Smith also enjoyed a prosperous career on the Japan Golf Tour, winning in excess of Y85 million during his time there.

Geoff Ogilvy
Career wins: 12
Major wins: 1 (2006 US Open)
PGA TOUR wins: 8
Australasian Tour wins: 2
Australian Open: Won (2010)
Australian PGA: Won (2008)

Wayne Smith
Career wins: 3
Australasian Tour wins: 2
Australian Open: T6 (1987)
Australian PGA: T4 (1996)

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