He lives in Scottsdale with his wife and two small children. Geoff turned professional in 1998, earning his card on the European Tour, where he played until the 2000 season. In 2001, he joined the PGA Tour full time.
In each of his first five seasons in the states, Geoff finished in the top 100 on the money list. His 2005 season was highlighted by a win at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, but it wasnít until the next year that Geoff really established himself as a truly elite player. He began the year by defeating Davis Love III in the final round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. He then went on to win the U.S. Open over Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie, and Jim Furyk in one of the more improbable finishes in major championship history. As his closest competitors were crumbling, Geoff finished strong, holing a difficult chip on 17 and parring the very difficult 18th hole at Winged Foot. Although that Open is remembered more for Mickelsonís catastrophic finish than for Ogilvyís hoisting of the trophy, it was Geoffís calm nerves and steady play all week long that allowed him to prevail amidst trying conditions on a very difficult golf course. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Geoff about his golf career.
Matt: Hello Geoff, how are you?
Geoff:Very good, Matt, thank you.
Matt: So how are you getting along? How are you feeling now at the end of a long 2008 golf season?
Geoff: Yeah, it is a long season. We start the first week in January and itís tiring. You can play every week from now until then. I had a pretty good first half of the year and it hasnít been so good the rest of the season. Iím looking forward to playing well in this last tour event to finish the year with a good taste in my mouth.
Matt: So how do you balance all that, Geoff? How do you maximize your playing time and results while at the same time make sure you do what is best for you mentally and physically? What is your decision process?
Geoff: Well at first when you start playing, itís a learning process. Thereís definitely a balance between not playing enough and not having enough competitive practice and playing too much and getting all worn out and tired and mentally fatigued. Itís a trial by error thing and sometimes I pinched the schedule this year and picked the ones I really wanted to play inóthe tournaments I like. Then I kind of fit a few tournaments around that and if I feel like Iím getting a bit tired Iíll take a week off during the year or if I feel like I need to play an extra tournament I might add an extra tournament.
Matt: You mentioned that the first half of the year was pretty solid for you. Obviously you had a win in the first half of this year, but none in the second half, as you noted. What do you think the difference was?
Geoff: I played great in Florida. I had the win at Doral, which is a big tournament, and then I didnít play my best at the Masters. It was disappointing not to play well there, but itís always a tough course and a tough week. Between the Masters and U.S. Open I played pretty well with three top-10 finishes in a row. At the U.S. Open I played pretty well. I was right in it with 10 holes to play and ended up 9th. I was pretty happy with it. Then I took a month off between the U.S. Open and British Open, which in hindsight may have been an error. I probably should have put a tournament in the middle to stay competitive. I got the wrong side of the draw at Birkdale, so I played in the rain on the first day. If you were playing well in that bad weather you could have done okay, but I was not quite sharp and I probably needed the good side of the draw to get it done. So I missed the cut at Birkdale and it has been kind of okay since then, not wonderful. Golf comes and goes. Sometimes if I analyze it too much, I find myself spinning around in circles.
Matt: Youíre a veteran, a major championship winner with multiple wins on the PGA Tour. When you are nursing your game back to form, as you currently are, what is it that you are working onóis it the short game, or is it something that is more out on the driving range?
Geoff: It can vary. I havenít really hit the ball well since the U.S. Open. It is going okay but not perfect, and as is usually the case, if you are not making a lot of putts, it is very hard to have good scores. Just one or two putts a round make a pretty big difference when you are playing on tour. Thatís eight shots a week and that is a lot. It really is just a little bit of everything. Itís finding the balance. It is coming around, so I feel pretty good.
Matt: Do you have a mental coach or someone that helps you with the psychological aspect of the game?
Geoff: I donít have any regular mental coach. I have talked to several people over the course of my career that have helped me, though. I pretty much know what I need to be doing and how I need to be thinking to be playing well. Just like your golf swing, your mental game needs work. Sometimes you get lazy and fall back into bad habits. I do not have a specific guy, but my swing coach, who Iíve had for the past 10 years, can tell when I am getting off-track mentally. I have a pretty good awareness of when I get off-track and try to rein it back in before it gets out of hand. The mental side of golf is a constant work in progress and probably the hardest part to really get right. Itís so satisfying when you do, though.
Matt: Do you get back home to Australia much?
Geoff: I married an American girl and we kind of share the family trips, however I get back about a month a year. This year I will get back for about two months and be able to spend Christmas in Australia with my family. On a bad year it is four weeks and a good year it is eight weeks.
Matt: Geoff, youíve played in 18 majors with an impressive finish of 24th or higher in 10 of them. Why do you think you perform so well in golfís most important events?
Geoff: I think that my patience level goes up in majors because it has to. I think itís something about the rarity of the tournament and the difficulty of the golf course that just forces me into the mental state that I need to be in. The kind of finality that this is the one chance this year to play this tournament, I think for some reason it kind of suits my mental state. I donít think physically my game fits a major more than any one elseís because Iíve never been that straight off the tee in majors. My short game is quite good and I putt very well at the majors, so I think thatís why I hang in well at those tournaments.
Matt: Iíve heard major champions claim that majors are won with your mind. You noted that your game wasnít any more suited to a major than anyone elseís, so do you agree with that assessment that majors are won with a patient mentality and the ability to think things through?
Geoff: I think you obviously have to have the physical attributes to win a major, but there are plenty of guys on tour that have those attributes and donít win majors. Itís an interesting thing. Some guys seem to have it truly worked outóNicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger, Faldoóall these guys who won a bunch of majors obviously seem to have such a mental advantage. The physical skills are important, but in a big tournament it just comes down to belief. I think once a guy has done it on a major stage, heís already so far in front of a lot in the field that may be overwhelmed by being there or they bring too much pressure on themselves.
Matt: Being someone that has gotten it done in a major before, is that an experience that you are able to draw upon?
Geoff: In regular tournaments, they announce you on the first tee as the U.S. Open champion. Thatís always nice. It definitely helps to stand on the first tee and realize that youíre one of 15 or 20 guys in the field who have won a major. Thatís probably half the battleóbelieving that you can actually win one of the big ones. Since Winged Foot I definitely feel much better at the majors, even though my results may not have borne that out. This year at the U.S. Open I was somewhat close but it definitely makes you feel more comfortable when you get near the top of the leaderboard and realize, ďHey, Iíve done this before.Ē
Matt: So much has been made of Phil Mickelsonís collapse and the troubles that Montgomerie and Furyk had down the stretch at Winged Foot. Do you think that your performance in winning that golf tournament is given the credit that itís due?
Geoff: I think that some people give me credit, and some focus on the guys that lost it. Itís amazing reallyópeople donít remember that Monty double bogeyed the last as well. Everyone credits it as Philís collapse but Montyís was just as bad. I get plenty of creditóobviously not as much credit as I would have if Iíd birdied the last two holes and won by five, but Phil is definitely the first thing talked about. It was a strange ending to a golf tournament, and I was very lucky that it worked out my way.
Matt: As you played those last few holes, were you cognizant of the fact that you had a chance to win the U.S. Open?
Geoff: Well I got into the lead maybe on the 6th hole and stayed pretty much around it all day. Then I got to 15 and was walking up to the tee and Phil birdied the 14th behind me out of the rough. I thought, ďWell maybe itís his week if heís going to make a birdie on a hard hole like that. Letís just see if heís going to make par on the last four holes on the golf course.Ē I think that the hardest four holes at Winged Foot are the last four. I was able to par 15 and then I just ground out a par on 17 with a crazy chip. There wasnít anything too remarkable about the chip, but considering it was the 71st hole at the U.S. Open, it was a fairly crazy chip-in. And then 18 I played perfect except my drive went into a divot. The 18th hole at the U.S. Open is the last hole in your life that you want to go into a sandy divot, and that made my second shot go a little bit short and kind of spin off the front. It would have been a great up-and-down in practice, let alone the last hole, but I pulled it off. I walked off that 18th green not knowing whether I was going to lose it there or get in a playoff. I actually never really thought about winning on that hole, but I thought I had a really good chance for a playoff. I walked off that green mentally patting myself on the back, proud of the way I finished and happy with the way Iíd done. I thought that however this works out I had done well. I knew then that I could win a major, if not then, then in the future, because I had played as well as I could have.
Matt: Well obviously the benefits of prevailing in a U.S. Open have served you well. Thanks for your time today, Geoff.
Whatís in Geoffís Bag
Birthplace: Adelaide, South Australia
Turned Pro: 1998
Birthday: June 11, 1977
Height: 6í 2Ē
Did you Know ?
Geoffís best finish on the PGA TOUR in 2008 is 1st at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship. This was his 4th career win on the PGA tour. He ranks 15th in Money Leaders on the PGA TOUR. Geoff claims to be a distant relative of the Royal Family member Angus Ogilvy, and even more distantly related to Robert The Bruce on his fathers side. He is a founding owner of MOJO Pies, ďThe Original Australian PieĒ located in Scottsdale, Arizona and is a proud supporter of the St Kilda Football Club.
||King Cobra Speed Pro D 9.5į with Aldila XVS8 shaft
||King Cobra X Speed XGB 15į with Fujikura Sapphire shaft
||Cobra Forged CB
||Cobra MB Pro with Royal Precision FM 7.3 shafts
||Titleist Vokey Design 50į
||Titleist Vokey Design 55į
||Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled 60į
||Scotty Cameron by Titleist prototype
||Titleist Pro V1