ATLANTA (AP) — Forget resting up for the morning tee time. Geoff Ogilvy had more important matters.
There was a football game to watch, Aussie style.
Ogilvy was one-stroke off the lead heading into Saturday’s third round of the Tour Championship, but he was up late – very late – cheering on his beloved St. Kilda Saints in the Grand Final of the Australian Football League.
Never mind that the game started at 12:30 a.m. Atlanta time. Never mind that Ogilvy was scheduled to tee off less than 11 hours later, in the next-to-last group ahead of 36-hole leaders Jim Furyk and Luke Donald.
No way he was missing the Super Bowl Down Under.
“I’ll get a bit of sleep,” he said after shooting 3-under 67 in the second round. “It’s less than ideal, but I’m not going to miss watching this game.”
Turns out, he could’ve gone to bed.
The Saints rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit and actually led in the closing minutes, but the game ended in a frustrating 68-68 draw, only the third tie in the history of the 112-year-old championship. Under AFL rules, the teams will meet again next week in a replay.
At least then, Ogilvy won’t have to worry about getting up to play golf the next morning. He’s taking a six-week break after the Tour Championship.
“St. Kilda is the hard-luck club of the league,” he said. “I mean, there’s a lot of people who have lived their whole life and not seen St. Kilda win a premiership.”
Count the 33-year-old Ogilvy among them. He was born more than a decade after St. Kilda’s only title in 1966, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the Saints.
He’s played in outfits matching St. Kilda’s colors – red, white and black – and worn golf shoes emblazoned with the team’s logo. Last year, he got about two hours of sleep before the third round of the Tour Championship, struggling to doze off after the Saints lost a dramatic Grand Final to Geelong.
It didn’t hurt him the next day. Taking out his frustration on East Lake, he shot a 64.
“You can play golf on no sleep if you haven’t been drinking,” Ogilvy quipped. “Drinking is what makes it hard when you get no sleep. You couldn’t do it every night, you’d get tired, but we’re all semi-athletes. I mean, three or four hours, you can play golf off three or four hours of sleep.”
While Ogilvy may have trouble answering his wake-up call, that shouldn’t be a problem for Furyk.
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, Furyk began the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 3 in the standings. But in the opening event at The Barclays, he was disqualified for missing his pro-am when the alarm didn’t go off. He slipped six spots, and didn’t scare anyone the next two weeks to fall to No. 11.
But with the top players in the standings starting to fade, Furyk could collect $10 million – the biggest payoff in golf – by winning at East Lake.
“It’s a bunch of money,” said Furyk, who was bogey free on the back nine. “The only thing I can really control is to go out and play good on the weekend, try to win the golf tournament. And at that point, there’s nothing else I can do about it.”
Furyk has a chance to join Tiger Woods as the only FedEx Cup champion to skip the first playoff event, although it wasn’t by choice.
“I’d like to join him with about 16 majors, too,” Furyk quipped. “But that doesn’t look like it’s in the cards.”
Going into the weekend, the deck is stacked in his favor.
Donald did a great job scrambling whenever he struggled off the tee, and pieced together another 66 to join Furyk at 8-under 132. Ogilvy made seven birdies in his round of 67 for a 133 total.
The third round, with tee times moved up because of NBC Sports’ obligation to Notre Dame football, could determine whether this FedEx Cup finale is a three-man race.
Ogilvy was the only player within four shots of the leaders. K.J. Choi did well to stay close by knocking in a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th, one of only seven birdies on that hole through two rounds.
Phil Mickelson’s hopes were fading. He had a chance to become the first repeat winner of the Tour Championship, and even a runner-up finish would be enough to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking. Mickelson, however, had a 72 and was tied for 13th, nine shots out of the lead.
Paul Casey, getting plenty of attention for his Ryder Cup snub, had a share of the lead at various times during the hot afternoon until a sloppy finish, making bogeys on this last three holes for a 71. That put him in the group at 3-under 137.
Casey is No. 5 in the standings – the highest-seeded player without a victory this year – and he could wind up a FedEx Cup champion with a runner-up finish depending on how top-seeded Matt Kuchar fares.
“If I want to get up there and challenge those guys, I’m going to have to hit it a lot better than I did today,” Casey said.
Kuchar had to play one shot on the 17th hole with his feet in the water and scrambled for a 70, leaving him in a tie for 15th at 2-over 142.
Charley Hoffman, the surprise winner in Boston to get to No. 3 in the standings, rallied with a 67 and was among the nine players still under par. He was at 2-under 138. The other players in the top five in the FedEx Cup – they only have to win to capture the prize – were Dustin Johnson (71) at 144 and Steve Stricker (68) at 142.