For the second year in succession, former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy won’t be playing in the championship he won at Winged Foot back in 2006.
The 40-year old Australian missed out on qualifying when his one-under par aggregate in Memphis last week was six shots too many for him to make the trip to Shinnecock Hills.
Still, the award-winning Golf Australia columnist is going to be involved in the year’s second major, if only from a distance. Following multiple requests over the last few years, Ogilvy – almost universally hailed by journalists as the best interview on tour – has finally succumbed and will be making his television debut as part of the Golf Channel coverage in the United States.
“I’ve been asked a few times before, especially around US Open time,” says Ogilvy, who will be moving back to Melbourne with his family early next year. “But this time I thought, ‘why not.’ So I’m going to see what it’s all about. I’m interested to get a taste of what television is like, if only to see if it is something I might want to do a bit more of down the road.
“I’m doing two days on the ‘Morning Drive’ show from Orlando. Originally I was hoping I’d be able to get to Shinnecock – where I have never played – but because Fox Sports have the broadcasting rights to the US Open, the Golf Channel have a lot less air-time. So I’ll be in Florida instead.”
Going in, Ogilvy had been given no definite brief, but is expecting to be talking about the course, the tournament and “everything to do with the US Open rather than one specific area.” It would, however, come as something of a surprise if the Melbourne-native were not asked to comment on the course architecture and set-up of what is one of American golf’s most iconic lay-outs.
“I’ve played in a lot of US Opens and quite recently,” he says. “And I’ve been playing competitively alongside some of the potential winners. So that should give me a strong connection with the field from ‘inside’ the locker room. I also have a great appreciation for courses like Shinnecock Hills. So I will hopefully be able to provide some insight into how the holes and the course will be playing. There are a handful of courses in the world that justify you reading a book about them - and Shinnecock is definitely one of those.”
As for the sort of player Ogilvy expects to do well, the three-time World Golf Championship winner is slightly more circumspect.
“I know this sounds obvious, but the champion is going to have to be someone who has had every part of his game working well,” he says. “This is a not a course where you can ‘fudge’ anything and get away with it. So the winner is going to be a guy who can move the ball both ways and have a clear understanding of the ‘angular strategy’ you ideally need to adopt with the tee-shots. The fairways are mostly a little wider than they were for the 2004 US Open, so approaching the greens from the right spots will be available and provide a big advantage.
“For that reason, I would expect a ‘class act’ to prevail this week. A quality player who knows how to win tournaments. Look at the guys who have won there recently. Ray Floyd. Corey Pavin. Retief Goosen. All were great shotmakers and putters. My strongest memory of ’04 is watching Retief hole everything in the last round. You can’t ever ‘fake it’ with your putter in the US Open. It’s the hardest putting tournament of the year.”