TULSA, Okla. — Sitting in his press conference after signing for a two-under 68, Geoff Ogilvy was fully aware that Tiger Woods needed a birdie on his last hole for a record-setting 62 and a three-shot lead. Yet Ogilvy was still rooting for him.
“That would be cool,” he said. “No one has done it in a major.” He then paused, laughed, and seemed to reconsider: “But I’d rather he didn’t.”
Somehow, you just can’t imagine Rory Sabbatini signing up for Tiger Fan Club.
Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, is three under and tees off Saturday in the group behind Woods (six under) and Scott Verplank (four under). Ogilvy is a student of the game’s history and is fully aware of the impressive statistics Woods has amassed on the way to this week’s PGA, his 50th appearance in a major championship.
Woods is 7-O at the majors when he’s held the lead after 36 holes, and 12-O after 54 holes. Ogilvy should also know that in the previous six majors held at Southern Hills, the 36-hole leader went on to win.
“Tiger does pretty well when he leads after two rounds,” he said, smiling. “And even better when he leads after three rounds. So I guess that is kind of ominous. But at some point, he’s not going to win.”
He didn’t sound convinced. Ogilvy did not help his cause by bogeying the 17th and 18th holes for the second day in a row. He’s tied with Stephen Ames and leading the pack that’s trying to spoil Tiger’s perfect set of statistics.
When Ogilvy won his major, the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he benefited from Phil Mickelson’s collapse and the absence of Tiger, who missed the cut. This time he knows he’ll have to catch Woods to win his second major.
“Makes it easier, really, because you’ve got nothing to lose,” Ogilvy said. “You know you have to play well. He’s probably the best front-runner in history. If you’ve got someone to chase, maybe you play a bit freer. Maybe it’s a good thing.”
How’s that for a positive spin? Ogilvy has played poorly this year and was particularly disappointed to miss the cut at the British Open last month, his first weekend off at a major.
“It would just be nice to win a golf tournament again,” he said. “If it was a major, that would be really nice. You get into more elite company when you’ve won two.”