Transcript - Geoff Ogilvy - Pre-Tournament - 12th January, 2022 - PGA of Australia

Transcript – Geoff Ogilvy – Pre-Tournament – 12th January, 2022

Q.   Thanks for coming along today and welcome to Geoff Ogilvy, long time great Australian player, back to the PGA, past winner of this event.  Geoff, how is your playing form?  You have a lot of other things in your life nowadays now you’re done touring and you’re obviously doing your architecture and you […]

Q.   Thanks for coming along today and welcome to Geoff Ogilvy, long time great Australian player, back to the PGA, past winner of this event.  Geoff, how is your playing form?  You have a lot of other things in your life nowadays now you’re done touring and you’re obviously doing your architecture and you run your own tournaments.  Have you got something left in the locker there as a player this week?

GEOFF OGILVY:  I guess we’ll find out.  I’m not really sure, to be honest.  I’ve played less golf in the last two years than I’ve probably ever played since I was about six or seven really, so a bit hard done by in Victoria, a little bit there for a while.  But it’s been okay. We played the Sandbelt Tournament, which went really well, just after Christmas.  I’ve been hitting a few at home and playing a fair bit of social golf I guess in the last few months.  So, we’ll see.  I mean, tournaments are different from home golf.

But it’s a bit like riding a bike, I was sort of a bit uncomfortable and I don’t know, just not that comfortable at home for some reason but as soon as I got on the range yesterday, it was like, I remember this, this is what I do.  So, we’ll see.  The short game is usually the question mark when you come back after a long break, but I don’t know, as I said, no expectation.

Q.  Talk to us a little about Royal Queensland because I understand you’re going to be doing some work here in the architecture sense in the future as well, so talk to us a bit about the new Royal Queensland and how that sets up for a tournament like this?

GEOFF OGILVY:  It’s quite different, obviously.  There’s obviously quite a lot of stuff here that’s like the old Royal Queensland, similar holes, like 10’s the same and 17 was there and run-off stuff, but it’s evolved into a really good course.  I’ve been around it a lot looking at it with the architecture eye, sort of critiquing it from that sense, but haven’t actually played a serious round with the score card in my pocket here, so time will tell about how that works.

But, I think it will be great.  It’s quite strategic.  We’ve got to think about it.  There’s some really interesting decisions to make off a lot of tees. It’s not just bombs away.  It always gets a bit windy in the afternoon and it can get pretty firm here, so I don’t know, time will tell.

I mean, it’s almost impossible to guess what guys are going to shoot these days.  Look what Cam shot the other day and Jonesy, Jonesy shot 23-under on the weekend, last weekend in Kapalua.  I mean, everyone’s really good here, so I think it will be a good tournament.  I think it’s a great course.

It’s nice that it’s getting a great field, men and women’s, that sort of show off Royal Queensland a little bit and how it can be played really well and I think it will be a good challenge for everyone.

Q.  Geoff, you mentioned before the lack of golf in general for everyone.  Can you just talk about what it’s been like for the fraternity to have such a long time between drinks, I guess?

GEOFF OGILVY:  I mean, I’m a little bit different.  I kind of came back to Australia because I was ready.  I was ready for a bit of a break, sick of being on the road all the time, missed Australia a lot.  I wanted my kids to have a bit of time in Australia.  2019 was I think was my sort of gap year of playing, get home and then I was going to sort of head off and play 10, 15 and sort of have my cake and eat it too almost as a dream.  Just sort of play a part time schedule but still get to live at home.

That didn’t pan out, so you sort of pivot along and I just tried to play a bit of social golf and in Victoria we had golf and then we didn’t, then we had golf and then we didn’t, so I’m a little bit different from some of these guys.  I feel a lot for these kids, sort of 19, 20, 21 who were all about to take that sort of get on the aeroplane, go to a Q-School or go play overseas and that’s sort of been put on hold a little bit in the last two years, which is really tough I think for them, kind of really an awful time for that sort of thing to happen.

But it will be build resilience or sort of show their desire or no desire.  I mean, if they’ve got the deep desire, it would have got stronger, I would have thought, not being able to do it.  It’s been a tough run for everyone, but I think it’s been great to watch.  We’ve had Aussies winning all the time – Minjee’s just won a Major, Cam’s been playing great, Min Woo played great this year.  

Someone told me a stat – you guys I’m sure know it – we’ve won 20 or so tournaments in the last two years, Australians around the world, which is incredible really.  Probably the strongest run of wins we’ve ever had maybe, during this period.

So we’ve all been sitting back here and they’re all friends with these guys, so it’s pretty inspirational and stuff and I think it’s been tough not being able to sort of free wheel it, just come and go wherever you please.  The guys in Japan have had a really tough run, that’s been brutal.  They’ve spent half their last two years in hotel rooms.  Seeing Instagram of them having chipping cups up hallways and stuff.  So that’s been tough for everyone, but it feels like golf and professional golf is in a really good state.

I think our girls are a lot stronger than they’ve ever been.  I think our female side of our game is getting great.  We’ve got a tonne of these kids who are, as I said, very enthusiastic and excited to get overseas, because they’ve sort of been held back a little bit the last couple of years.

So I think it’s a really good period for us and good things coming.  Wins like Cam’s on the weekend, you can only do everything, but get everyone excited about doing it again.

Q.  That ties into something else I wanted to ask you about the tournament and Vic players in general here.  Obviously harder and harder to get the guys back from the US, running out of room on their schedule, then there’s new tournaments popping up in Saudi being another hurdle.  But it sounds like there’s a way forward without those big names.  What do you think about that battle that seems to come up every year, throwing those big names back?

GEOFF OGILVY:  I think there’s been far too much focus on prize money and big name players.  I mean no one really minds who goes to play in the Australian Open Tennis – that’s not exact today, but they go anyway.  The Melbourne Cup’s the biggest horse race in the world and nobody cares what horses are running, they want to go anyway.

I think we’ve sat down on Tuesday and Wednesday press conferences for the last 20 years in Australia and say, isn’t this a shame Geoff, there’s no one playing here this week?  So who’s going to come and support the Tournament when we tell them don’t come because there’s no good players?

I think all pros are great players.  I think we need to focus on building great events, sort of build them from the ground up again.  We’ve had this sort of all or nothing approach, that unless it’s a big massive event with the top 10 players in the world, it’s not worth having.

I think if we can sort of go back to the basics, fundamentally sell events, just put them all on, give somebody the chance to play, build them up, build them up, build them up gradually, and the big name players will gradually come.  I don’t think you need them for a great tournament.  I mean, we come to a tournament – I think people come to golf tournaments for a couple of reasons.  One is because they want to see people in draws with drivers and people who can do stuff that they can’t do – and everybody here can do that.

Everyone here is impressive to a club golfer, if you ask me, and two, you go for the contest.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the 1000th player in the world versus the 900th best player in the world for one and two, the contest is the contest and that’s exciting – guys holing putts and hitting good shots and coming up with the stuff under pressure.  I mean, I think, I was at the Ashes Test the other day.  It wasn’t really who won or lost that, it was just how good it was to watch and I think all elite sport, including golf, is like that.

If you have a great contest, it’s appealing to watch and I think if we can focus on that rather than who’s not there, I think we can rebuild and create an unbelievable tour, I think.   I think golf’s a massive sport in Australia, people love it.  You’ve just got to give them a reason to come, not give them a reason not to come.

Q.  You mentioned your own expectations are lower, but having watched you play the Old Tournament last year (?), that seemed to raise it a little bit, because you’re getting used to it, how do you temper your expectations against not playing tournament golf?  How do you keep yourself level headed and not maybe go back to your arm chair (?) thinking about how you’re playing?

GEOFF OGILVY:  You tell me how to temper expectations and I’ll put that into practice.  But it’s tough.  I think it’s partly why we are what we are, because we set ourselves really high standards and it’s very easy to have no expectations today.  If I hit a few good shots today, all of a sudden I’m going to come out tomorrow all excited.

That’s really the challenge of a golfer, to be realistic, stay present, just hit good shot after good shot, after good shot and sort of add them up at the end and see how you do.  It’s very easy to not miss a shot on the range on Thursday morning and bogey the first hole and the whole thing comes unravelled.

So, I’ve been better at it I think over my career.  I think that’s just a maturity, growing up thing and an understanding that golf very often doesn’t go how you want it to go.  So I’m still working on that.  Hopefully I can just try to enjoy playing a golf tournament I think and that’s usually a pretty good recipe, so we’ll see.

But if I do get grumpy or annoyed that I’m not scoring how I want to score, I need to admonish myself a little bit, because that’s not realistic.  I just haven’t done what I’d normally do and I’ll do my best to play good golf and I’ll do my best to keep my headspace in a good place, I guess.

Q.  Does that lack of tournament golf help you avoid going down rabbit holes and things like that with golf when you’re only playing average golf, I know you’ve spoken about before at tour events, or do you still think a lot of golf [inaudible] do you still stand in front of the mirror and fashion positions and [inaudible] pick something different?

GEOFF OGILVY:  I have golf clubs all over my house.  I’ve got a putting mat in front of the TV.  I haven’t stopped swinging golf clubs.  I’ve made more practice swings in the last two years than I’ve ever made, than I’ve made in the previous five years.  It never goes away.  I think it’s been a nice period for that, because when you’re playing week in, week out, it’s very difficult to really sort of take a deep dive into your golf swing and how you hit it, because you have to perform at the same time you’re doing it.

I think really the only way to be honest and actually get somewhere with golf is to disregard how you’re hitting it for a while and when you’re playing tournaments that’s really difficult, because it’s very hard, with a bit of ego involved, it’s hard to have a bad score knowing that you’re on the way to a good score.  So you end up sort of half working on it and half trying to play well at the same time.  

So it’s been an interesting period, yeah.  As I said, I’m constantly swinging, I’m constantly sort of trying to get deeper and deeper into why when my swing went bad, why did it go bad.  The goal really is how simple can I make it.  Can I pare this down, can I see two or three simple things that if I can stick to, then I’ll be okay.  Because we all have patterns that we follow our whole life and I’ve been trying to sort of unravel why my pattern is my pattern – if that makes sense.

Q.  Your chances this week, you’ve played Royal Queensland in the past, but you wouldn’t have chipped and putted on greens themselves for a long time.  Is that something you’d spend a bit of time on today, get used to it and just like riding a bike, it’s come back to you?

GEOFF OGILVY:  I think it’s a bit of both.  I think I certainly will be chipping and putting a lot today, definitely chipping as well.  I think Bermuda grass – Bermuda – I would say Bermuda, but 328 or Couch or whatever we call it, grey haired grass, is different.  When I first played, when I first started coming up here for amateur tournaments and stuff, I was just completely lost.

But after 15 or 20 years in the US, you play on this sort of grass 30 per cent of the time probably, so I got a bit better at what I’m looking for.  So, it would probably wouldn’t take too long.  I don’t know if I can be completely back and home and accustomed to it by tomorrow morning, but certainly I think by week end I think I would be.

So, a lot of chips today, a lot of putts today, try to let my, whatever my learnt experience over the years, sort of come out.

Q.  You were talking about the tournaments, probably from a media point of view they’d still love to hang their hat on a big name.  I mean, would you expect because of COVID that these guys have been stuck overseas for so long, that a couple of them now would say we’d like to come home and free up towards the end of the year with Opens, PGAs and things like that?  The Cams, the Adams, the Leishs, Jason?

GEOFF OGILVY: I imagine so, I would be.  I think there was one summer I didn’t come back and by like about February I regretted it.  I was just counting down the days until that November or whatever we could come back for the Open.

I imagine if we can present a good looking schedule there in November, December this year, I think they’ll all be very, very keen, especially Leish, very Aussie, Cam’s very Aussie, Scottie hasn’t been here for a little bit.  Yeah, I imagine, we’ve got an opportunity this year, as you say, just by COVID and them having no golf to play in Australia for a couple of years.  I think if it’s smooth sailing or an easy way to do it this year, I think it’s an opportunity to get them all to come back, absolutely.

Q.  Just on Min Woo Lee, the highest ranking player in the field, just about to play his first Masters in like April.  What’s it like for him going into that first sort of Masters when he’s there compared to your first Masters maybe?

GEOFF OGILVY: I talked to Lucas about this actually, because he’s about to go play his first one.  I think the best thing you can do is go early, before the Tournament.  You’re going to be a fan of the Masters and you’re going to be open eyes.  It’s like going to Disneyland for a kid the first time you go there.  

I think you’ve got to get that out of the way, but you’ve got to allow yourself that, because you’ve been waiting your whole life to get there, so you’ve got to go do that.

So my advice to him, and as it was to Lucas, I said if you can get there early, maybe call Cam or Leish or Scottie or someone and say, are you guys going the week before the Tournament, can I come and tag along, show me the ropes a little bit?  Get it all out of your system.  Drive down Magnolia Lane, go in the pro shop, buy all the merchandise, go behind the trees on 13, feel the shot, do all that stuff.

Get that stuff out of the way, so that when you come back a week or so later for the Masters that you’ve got that out of the way and you can play a golf tournament.

Historically they all say that you can’t play well there first time, but I don’t think that’s true.  I think you absolutely can.  I think if you can get to the first tee and have all that sort of fan stuff out of the way, the wide eyes, like be ready to play on the first tee, I think you can do it.

I think it’s a relatively simple course to play basically right and then it’s 50 years of experience to get all those little 1 per centers, you know what I mean?  So I would say go early and play as many practice rounds as you can with people who have been there – the longer they’ve been there, the more you should seek out their practice round.  Langer, Couples, Scottie, like all those guys.  Go play with them and see how they play, because they seem to hit it to spots where they don’t ever make bogeys and when you’re a rookie there, you just seem to hit in spots where you can’t make pars.

Just watch how the experienced guys play it.  Just get the visit out of the way so you can get back there on the Monday of the Tournament where you can just be ready to go.

Q.  Geoff, thanks very much, thanks for coming.GEOFF OGILVY:  No worries.

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