TRANSCRIPT | Geoff Ogilvy, 2020 Vic Open, pre-tournament press conference

KATHIE SHEARER:  Geoff, thank you for coming in this afternoon.  It’s been a year since I sat beside you here and what a year it’s been.  You came off the U.S. Tour, you spoke of it last time, that you had a complete change of lifestyle.  In between you’ve been sort of co‑captain of the […]

KATHIE SHEARER:  Geoff, thank you for coming in this afternoon.  It’s been a year since I sat beside you here and what a year it’s been.  You came off the U.S. Tour, you spoke of it last time, that you had a complete change of lifestyle.  In between you’ve been sort of co‑captain of the Presidents Cup. 

Can you tell us just something about the year, how life has changed for you since you were back at 13th Beach?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Yeah, it’s been good.  Didn’t play much golf in the last 12 months really.  Played New Zealand after here, that was about it until Sydney, I think. 

It’s been good settling the family back in Australia and getting back into Melbourne lifestyle and getting the kids all settled and doing the school drop‑offs and pickups and drinking good coffee and playing in the Sandbelt and watching St. Kilda try their best. 

Yeah, it’s been a nice period.  I’ve missed it a little bit.  I didn’t watch any golf until later in the year and then it kind of started piquing my interest.  Obviously the Presidents Cup was a great thing, kind of watching the boys as they jostled for the team.  We had a great text going around.  It was the captain’s group, me and Ernie and Trevor and Weirsy and KJ, who didn’t participate too much in the texting, and the players, a group with them.  That was kind of fun as they were getting revved up and stuff for the Presidents Cup. 

That was kind of the highlight of the year, that was a brilliant tournament that nearly went our way.  It didn’t even matter in the end.  I mean, it would probably be better for the event if we had won, but it was a massive success and we all had a really good time, and the boys are constantly on the text still every day.  Three or four of them have won since.  Obviously guys bounce out of that tournament with a lot of confidence and buoyancy.  Everyone’s already revved up for Charlotte next time, so there’s been a few meetings already with guys about stuff for next time that Ernie suggested.  Yeah, so that’s been good.

Back here and play here, I’m going to play New Zealand again and I’m going to try to play a few more.  Winged Foot this year at the U.S. Open, so I’m going to try and make my way into that if I can find a way in the tournament.  Play a few more tournaments, you know.  Get out of the city a little bit more.  Try to have my cake and eat it, too.  Play a little bit of golf and live in Melbourne, all after that, it’s been great.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Howis your golf game coming into this?

GEOFF OGILVY:  It feels pretty good.  I’m hitting the ball well.  It’s like riding a bike in some ways, but it’s also tournament, not fitness as in fitness but mental.  Kind of tournament golf is different from golf.  You don’t forget how to do it, but you’ve got to polish the skill a little bit.  I haven’t really been polishing it, so hopefully I feel like I’m playing well, but I didn’t score very well at the Australian Open.  I like how I hit the ball now way more than even five years ago when I was playing well.  I like my ball‑striking better than I did before.  Short game sharpens up the more you play and that’s coming around.  If I can make a few putts, good things will happen.  It feels all right.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Will you be involved in the Presidents Cup in Charlotte?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Hopefully.  We didn’t like have one of those kind of blood brother handshakes or anything, but we all kind of decided that it was a good crew that we had. 

Everybody’s trying to convince Ernie to come back and he’s taking a bit of convincing.  Whether he’s captain or not, it will probably come out of the guys who were there and he’ll be involved anyway, Ernie. 

No, it was a great group of guys.  The boys really responded to it and the senior players are becoming very senior.  Scottie’s played like a hundred Presidents Cups now.  What’s he on, nine, and you would think he’s a pretty good chance to play 10.  He’s almost a captain now, too, because he’s played so many.  Louis’ on about his fifth or sixth now and Leish is going to be up to about four next time.  We’ve got a lot of experience in the players and the captains. 

It will certainly be ‑‑ kind of captaincy and the leadership of the team will be a very similar group.  Who is the No. 1 guy, I don’t know, but yeah, it’s exciting.  Usually everyone talks about it the next day and then doesn’t talk about it for the next 18 months until the team starts shaping up, but everyone, as I said, I’m getting WhatsApp every day from the guys about it.  If Ernie did anything, leave a legacy of really uniting the spirit of our team, you know, it was really impressive.  And not surprising because he’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met, loves winning, really believes in kind of team golf in the southern hemisphere, if you like, plus a few others taking on the Americans, so he really did a good job there.

Q.  Is he going to get in trouble with what he said about the PGA TOUR in his closing speech at the Presidents Cup?

GEOFF OGILVY:  About having a bit more power on our side?  Control?  No, they listened, I think.

Q.  Properly listened?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Well, I don’t know, but they listened.  There’s been a few meetings I know already about it.  And it’s fair enough.  I don’t even know really what he was talking about because he was the one on the inside the whole time, but it certainly ‑‑ we’ve always just kind of been told this is the way it is, these are the clothes you wear, this is how we’re setting up the course. 

He just felt like the Ryder Cup benefited from each side having a bit more say in how it went, especially when it was a home game for each side.  And I felt like he thought it was to continue the team spirit, to really build that bond, kind of the international group, that a bit more control would be a good thing.  So I don’t know how that will end up, but they certainly listened, I think.  He’s not in trouble, he’s definitely not in trouble.

Q.  On the Presidents Cup, was a close call almost perhaps a better result in some ways, to come close and not get over the line, the fire remains in the belly in the next year ahead of the next one?

GEOFF OGILVY:  You can argue it both ways.  I think a close win would have been better than a close loss.

Q.  The Europeans, when they first came close in America, that seemed to be the moment that spurred everything beyond that.

GEOFF OGILVY:  Yeah, like certainly the close ones ‑‑ New York was a bit of an aberration, I think, because it was super close.  I mean, we were one‑putting the last hole from ‑‑ one missed putt from us and one made putt from them, Chris Kirk and Lahiri, from winning.  They all came back from that really excited and pumped up, and everyone was really flat up for Liberty National because we just got annihilated by a better team.

Certainly any time it’s close I think the event gets better regardless of the result, I think.  I think a close win would have been better, but as I had, it wasn’t ‑‑ none of us took it as a negative.  We were all pretty gutted there for like the last hour of play as it slipped from our fingers, but by the time we were playing kick on the range with our footies we were all pretty over it and we just realized how good a week it was.  Certainly a good springboard for next time, I think.  And Charlotte’s a great one for us because we’ve all played the course so much.  It’s less of a home game for them because everyone who plays on the Tour has been playing there every year for 15 years.

And there’s a lot of players have connections in Charlotte for some reason.  It’s one of those towns where a lot of guys are starting to live, international guys are sort of going in and out.  I think we’ll ‑‑ of all the places in America to play, that will be one of the better ones for us in Charlotte.

Q.  Having had a bit of a ‑‑ I know you’ve been doing other things than what I’m about to ask you, but how do you see Australian golf in light of the Presidents Cup, the politics of it?  Can you see something that you hadn’t seen from outside previously?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Inside golf in general?

Q.  Yeah, in the governance of it, where it should go.

GEOFF OGILVY:  Trying to kick a little hornet’s nest? 

The top end, we’ve done well.  Like we’ve got those four or five guys that are really ‑‑ I mean, Cam’s really kicked on the last couple years, Leish has become a truly world‑class, well‑respected player wherever he goes.  Scotty is Scotty.  Jase when he’s fit, he’s obviously amazing.

It seems like a gap to the next group.  If you just talk about professional golfers, it seems like a bit of a gap.  Sometimes you just have talent gaps.  I feel like we’ve got the talent, maybe it just hasn’t worked out. 

The PGA TOUR’s getting really, really competitive and it’s always been hard to get on and hard to do well, but it’s harder and harder and harder.

We are trying to beat Americans on their own turf.  If the PGA TOUR was Australia, we would be like them, you know, because it would be much easier to play 30 tournaments in your own country than across the other side of the world, a whole new culture, away from your friends and family. 

I don’t know, as far as the governance, I don’t know.  I think professional golf tournaments ‑‑ this is an outlier, this is really going well.  This is a great tournament and this was the Victorian Golf Association, Victorian government like really seeing an opportunity to create a great event and a great little kind of community outside Melbourne and have the guys and the girls in the same tournament. 

This is the leader of Australian golf tournaments at the moment, it seems like.  It would be great to see The Open and the PGA and something like the Masters come back.  Development tour, like to see that second tier like kind of progress and have 10 or 20 tournaments for our guys to play so they would have an option here instead of having to go somewhere else.  But I feel like there’s some stuff happening behind the scenes that’s hopefully going to help that sort of stuff happen.

Q.  Like a Sunshine Tour?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Like a ‑‑ what’s a Sunshine Tour?  Like South Africa? 

Golf is a very popular sport and everybody loves it and everybody wants to play, it seems like.  I feel like we could have 10 or 15 events during the year that would do all right if we just kind of all got our ducks in a row.  People like the product, we just have to show it to them a little bit.

And maybe too many different parties are involved and everybody wants to pull in different directions and stuff, but I feel like there’s good things happening.  I think everyone seems to be receptive to maybe doing it a different way.  This tournament again has proven that open your mind a little bit to different sort of ways to looking at things and you can be really successful quite quickly. 

I mean, we’ve got one of the best women’s fields anywhere.  That’s not a small achievement on the other side of the world.  And the guys are playing for a lot of money in Australia here.  Absolutely, I think.

I feel rumbles of really good stuff happening.  I don’t know any details of anything, but when I landed here last year, I was like, What happened to the tour and where are all the young golfers coming from, but after 12 months I think there’s good stuff happening.

Q.  Can you see a day when this is the model for the national championship?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Maybe.  The U.S. Open did a great thing at Pinehurst a couple years ago and that was a massive success, I think.  Well, we did back‑to‑back weeks.  It limits your venues. 

There’s still couple ‑‑ for a national championship, there’s still a couple of issues with this sharing the same course, especially on a Saturday.  I think there’s issues on Saturday here because you’re going to have people on the same score playing five hours apart.  I’m not sure that’s ‑‑ for a lot of tournaments that’s okay, especially down by the coast you’ve got guys playing dead still in the morning being on the same score teeing off in 40‑mile an hour five hours later.  That’s going to upset the integrity of the tournament a little bit sometimes. 

But certainly concurrent Australian Opens at a Royal Melbourne East, Royal Melbourne West, or Peninsula North, South, something like that, or even just neighbour courses nearby and kind of combine the collective ‑‑ you combine both sites and it’s the sum is greater than its parts. 

It’s proven it here, so certainly I think that would be an interesting thing.  It really was successful at Pinehurst when Martin won and Michelle Wie won the next week.  We all loved it.  I watched ‑‑ that’s the U.S. Open I watched the most of of the girls because I was interested to see how they played the course that I just played.

That would be ‑‑ you work for GA, Haysey, you can suggest that.  Yeah, that would be great.  The more of this the better, absolutely.

Q.  Do you have any Vic Open memories going way back? 

GEOFF OGILVY:  The first memory is ‑‑ well, like Yarra Yarra early ’80s, they used to get a good field there.  The Shark used to play and Finchy.  Also at Metro one time, is it Metro he won ’83 or something?

Q.  ’82.

GEOFF OGILVY:  And then it kind of died.  Then Allenby won at Woodlands as an amateur and that was for us, like someone ‑‑ a kid winning a major.  He was four or five years older than me, but that was just outrageous what he did there.  And it kind of came back ‑‑ at least in our mind it came back on the map. 

Then it was in Victoria for a few years and I kind of contended, played the last group Sunday two years in a row.  It was that first pro tournament we could get in, you know.  The Australian Open was the next kind of step up, but to qualify was doable and get in and play with the pros, and we used to get some pretty legitimate pros to play.

Yeah, so the Vic Open’s ‑‑ it’s come and gone over the years, but it’s obviously come back to where it kind of should be because it’s a pretty ‑‑ the trophy’s got some pretty impressive names on it over the years.  It’s one of the first pro tournaments I was ever going to and was really ‑‑ it was one of the first ones I maybe aspired to play in, especially when Rob won in ’91.  I was 14 and that was just outrageous that an 18‑year‑old or whatever he was would win the pro tournament.  That doesn’t happen, you know?  Yeah, great tournament.  It’s one of the earliest ones I remember.

Q.  In the WhatsApp group, has there been any chatter about Premier Golf League?  Some of those guys would be targets, I would think.

GEOFF OGILVY:  Well, you guys just found out about it, but we’ve known about this for a while.  Managers are good secret‑keepers.  It’s popped up ‑‑ this one has had more legs than some of the other ones we’ve heard talked about.  This one’s come and gone for about the last seven or eight years and they seem very well funded.

I have absolutely no feeling for how it’s going to play out.  Money talks at the end of the day, and I think conceptually, taking away all the territorial pissing matches and stuff that you would get, conceptually having the best golfers in the world together regularly around the world has always been a good idea.  Greg had the idea.  The WGCs, that kind of was the theory that that was going to happen.  Conceptually, that’s a great idea.

Now, again, the PGA TOUR is an incredibly amazing organization and they provide an amazing lifestyle for a lot of people, not just the players but a lot of people benefit from the PGA TOUR.  There’s people who watch it, the towns, the charities, they just got to $3 billion in charity. 

So it’s not a simple thing, but guys are talking.  I mean, it’s a lot of numbers that are getting thrown around.  I have no feeling for how it will play out, but this one’s had more legs than most of the ones that have been talked about.

Q.  You’ve spoken a lot recently about equality in sports and certainly this is one of the leaders of that.  Why is that so important to you?  

GEOFF OGILVY:  Well, it’s more than just guys in the world who play golf or play sport.  To be honest, most ‑‑ I’m a golf tragic, so when I come to a golf tournament, I’m watching other people play just as much as I’m playing myself. 

This week I found last year all I wanted to do was watch the women and how they went about it.  Some of them are just machines, they just don’t hit bad shots and they hit hybrids on to the green 10 feet all day.  When I hit a hybrid, I’m happy to hit it within 30 yards of the green.  It’s just a different style.  There’s something to be learnt from both sides and there’s enjoyment in watching both styles of play. 

Tennis has clearly benefited from trying to ‑‑ I know to some people it’s not complete equality, but at least they play on the same place and the same time, they play for the same prize money in Australia at the matches and stuff. 

There’s more than just guys in the world, you know.  I think it just makes sense.  The footy’s gone really well, I never thought that would work, but there’s an appetite for it, I know there is.  Yeah, it’s just great.  We should do this more often.  The fact this happens only once in a year is just nonsense.

Q.  You just said it’s nonsense it only happens once a year.  What’s the hesitation do you think?  Why aren’t we seeing other tours kind of replicating this?  We’ve seen kind of attempts, like there was a mixed open in Jordan and there’s been variations like the U.S. Open, but why do you think other tours don’t do it as well?

GEOFF OGILVY:  The U.S. used to do it, was it the J.C. Penney or something?  They had the same tour and the LPGA Tour, which was a pretty good idea.  I don’t know why that didn’t continue on.

I don’t know.  It’s probably just golf’s being stuck in conservative traditions I think for a long time.  You see the Japanese ladies tour is a much bigger and successful tour in Japan than the men’s tour is, and whenever it’s presented properly, it’s just as popular it seems like.  It just needs to have the opportunity, I feel like.

I don’t know.  The logistics are difficult.  Like this is 300 people at one tournament.  You need two courses to make this work and you need the right sort of venues.  And you would be pretty limited if you tried to do this style every week, but you can have concurrent events next door to each other.  Like I said, a north and south course or east and west or neighboring courses, or you can do the partners thing, you can back up one week and then go the next week.

It’s just a bit of creative thinking.  I’m not sure why, it’s maybe just everyone’s scared to rock the successful boat that they’re riding in.  The PGA TOUR’s a pretty proven model, what they run.  Maybe they just don’t want to rock the boat.  They know what they’ve got, their product, they know it works.  But certainly if you want broader audiences to watch it and a more interesting product, you just make it more interesting, right?

KATHIE SHEARER:  There was some talk with Huntingdale and Metropolitan being side by side, just what you’re saying.  That that could ‑‑ I know Huntingdale was very keen.  They would be.

GEOFF OGILVY:  Well, there you could kind of cut the holes in the gate and you’re basically, you’re touching, right?  Royal Melbourne could do east and west in one week, that would be amazing.  A lot of places around the world you could do that.  Sawgrass, there’s three courses at Sawgrass, you could do two in one week. 

It’s one of those things maybe people just have to get used to the idea, see that maybe this is the crash test dummy, maybe this is the one that’s showing people this is a pretty good formula.  This is the best tournament in Australia by a long ways, the one that’s doing that.  I don’t know.

Q.  (Inaudible.)  Have you been asked and would you consider if you were becoming some sort of an ambassador providing ‑‑ there’s been a thought for a while that if some of the top male players (inaudible) a bit more often, it would go an awful long way.

GEOFF OGILVY:  I would certainly be happy to do that, and I know a bunch of guys who would.  There’s plenty of guys who are stuck in conservative thinking, but it’s just because they haven’t opened their eyes and watched and seen.  There’s some pretty good golf getting played out there.

Q.  Does having a daughter have an impact in that way?  Certainly having a daughter, does the world look different to a father who’s got a daughter than one who just plays golf for a living?

GEOFF OGILVY:  Maybe.  Probably.  I don’t know.  I think you’ve got to open your eyes and watch a little bit.  I always used to love watching the Dinah Shore, the one in Palm Springs, the one where they jump in the pool.  For whatever, that was always a week where you would come home, because we were always east coast, that was west coast, you would come home from the golf course, and I never watched the men’s tournament that week, I would always watch that because it just felt like the Masters on the girls’ side because it was always on the same course, jump in the water at the end, you just want to see them, watch the jump.  Now I like DVR it. 

I started watching that, I started watching the U.S. Women’s Open.  It was good to see Johnny beat up on the girls and not on us.  I think you’ve just got to watch for a bit.  I think a lot of guys just don’t, but once you do, you’re kind of, wow, this is pretty good. 

Daughter, maybe.  Open minded.  Just a golf tragic and if there’s golf around, I want to see it.  I don’t know, all of the above.  Play with a few, too.  Played with So Yeon and Su Oh, and these guys have been lucky enough through the years to play with some of the really elite golfers and it’s like wow, like envious of ball‑striking consistency and stuff.  We’ve actually got a long way to go to catch up to that consistency.  They’ve got ways to catch up in other areas, but they make us look poor in some areas.  Once I think you open your mind and your eyes to it, you can’t not enjoy it if you like the game.

KATHIE SHEARER:  Thank you as always.  Thank you for coming in.

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