AUGUSTA, Ga. Phil Mickelson grabbed headlines before the Masters. Peter Uihlein, the U.S. Amateur champion and son of the CEO of Acushnet, got plenty of attention. But Geoff Ogilvy, who completed their group Thursday and Friday, quietly outplayed them both with back-to-back 69s.
Starting Saturday just four shots off the lead, Ogilvy, who loves Augusta National and grew up playing another Alister MacKenzie course (Royal Melbourne) looked poised to make a move up the leaderboard.
But the Aussie failed to get anything going on the front nine and shot a three-over 39. He made birdies on 11 and 12, then another on 15 to get back to six under for the tournament, but a plugged lie in the bunker on 18 led to another final bogey.
Ogilvy has won two WGC-Accenture Match Play titles and a WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. But fans have been waiting five years for Ogilvy to validate his victory at Winged Foot and capture another major.
Fans like the Australian man standing alongside the ropes of the fifth fairway who didn't want Ogilvy to get down on himself. He told his buddies, "We've gotta get Geoff going. C'mon boys, 'Go Geoff' time." As the guys in the St. Kilda's hats (Ogilvy's favorite Australian Rules Football club) cheered, Ogilvy nodded their way and smiled, but kept right on walking by himself up the fairway.
Fans like the dozen German representatives of SchÃ¼co, one of Ogilvy's major sponsors, who followed him around Augusta National in the 85-degree heat, chugging water and beer.
Fans like Ogilvy's friends and his wife, Juli, who also followed him again on foot today. When she saw his short par putt on the eighth hole horseshoe out, it was more than she could take. "Ahh!" she screamed before making an about-face and scurrying down the ninth fairway.
And most of all, Ogilvy himself.
After signing for his card and shaking hands with his playing partner, Alvaro Quiros, the Aussie immediately went to the driving range. He wanted nothing to do with the writers or TV crews, just range balls.
He positioned himself on the far right side of the range, away from everyone except his caddie, Cameron Ferguson, and swing coach, Dale Lynch. On a day when Angel Cabrera, Bubba Watson and fellow Australian Adam Scott all shot 67, Ogilvy's 73 was maddening.
There were very few words spoken as Ogilvy hit one iron shot after another. No practice swings, no pre-shot routine. Just sweep a ball over, pause, then hit it. If there had been a heavy bag around, Ogilvy would've tired himself out swinging haymakers.
"It was pretty off-the-charts frustrating, really," he said after he finished pasting 7-irons. "I don't know how you can rate frustration, but it was really frustrating."
Ogilvy's length off the tee, touch with a wedge and syrupy-smooth putting stroke make him appear well-suited for the majors. He understands course design and thinks his way around as well as anyone.
He'll start Sunday at five under, seven shots behind Rory McIlroy. Unless he goes on a tear in the fourth round and gets a little help from McIlroy, Ogilvy and his fans will have to wait a little longer for his next major title.