Australian Golfer Ogilvy Takes U.S. Open

Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open this Sunday. The 29-year-old won at Winged Foot Golf Club, in large part, because Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie played badly at the end.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Australian Jeff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open Golf Championship. He's 29 years old. He won at Winged Foot Golf Club in large part because he played the last hole pretty well, and Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie did not.

Commentator John Feinstein was watching. John, good morning.

Mr. JOHN FEINSTEIN (Sports Commentator; Author “Caddy for Life”): Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Most people have not heard the name Ogilvy. I've got to be honest, I hadn't. But I understand he's been around for a while and that he's been considered quite promising.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Yes, he's a very solid player. He won the Match Play Championship earlier this year out in California, in which the top 64 players in the world play match play against one another. You have to win six matches, and he beat Davis Love in the final. So he's a very respected player.

And he has the kind of game you need on a golf course like Winged Foot, where par is a very good score. As you mentioned, he made par on the last hole, while Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie were both making remarkable double bogies to lose the championship.

INSKEEP: Mickelson was the last guy playing of these three. He needed a par on that last hole. Hits a bad drive off to the left, he's got three more shots to get it down, and what happens?

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Well, first of all, a bad drive is a kind description, Steve. He hit it off a tent. And what he was doing with the driver in his hand nobody, including Phil, can explain. He'd been awful with the driver all day. He only hit two fairways.

And he knew all he needed was a par to win the tournament, and yet he still hit driver instead of hitting a three-iron and just getting the ball out on the fairway. Complete and utter brain lock. And then he hit his second shot straight into a tree, trying to play an impossible slice-cut shot around that tree. It was almost like he was trying to play circus golf, and sadly he ended up looking like a clown.

INSKEEP: You know, he said afterward, I'm such an idiot.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Right.

INSKEEP: And yet, if he'd pulled off one or two of those shots we would have thought very differently about him.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Well, that's true. I mean, that's been Phil's strength and weakness through his career, the swashbuckling type of play that reminds people of Arnold Palmer. Well, it was Arnold Palmer who blew a seven shot lead at the Open in 1966, and this was Phil blowing it on the last hole with just, as I said, a complete and utter mind lock that he will have to live with for a long, long time.

INSKEEP: And you could just sense - it was almost palpable, the disappointment for Colin Montgomerie when he did not finish very well.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Yeah, you know, that, to me, was almost the saddest part of it; because here's a guy who's been so close in major championships, a runner-up five times now. The crowd was actually on his side this time, the American crowd that has often been against him.

He hit a great drive at number 18, and just absolutely choked on his second shot. His comment while the ball was in the air was, what kind of a golf shot is that? And that led to his double bogie and losing by one shot to Ogilvy.

INSKEEP: I have to admit, it's always kind of entertaining when the winner of the U.S. Open is over par rather than under.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: That's what makes the Open unique, the fact that the golf course is almost always the winner. Winged Foot has been a torture test for these players.

In 1974, when Hale Irwin won with a seven over par score, it was called The Massacre at Winged Foot. And this was pretty close. The golf course definitely deserves some kind of trophy. And it wasn't unfair, Steve. It was just a very, very hard course.

INSKEEP: What does it mean that Tiger Woods missed the cut, wasn't even there for the weekend?

Mr. FEINSTEIN: It means that he deserves a mulligan on this one, because his father passed away last month. He had not played a competitive round of golf since mid-April at the Masters, and he was rusty. I mean, he hit seven fairways in two days. That's unheard of for Tiger Woods. I think the real Tiger Woods will reemerge at the British Open, and this was just something he had to live through in the wake of his father's death.

INSKEEP: John, thanks very much.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein, author of Caddy for Life.

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