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Friday, June 13, 2008

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Els, Ogilvy Scrap It Out

Ogilvy Inside
Ernie Els and Geoff Ogilvy were tied for eighth at even-par 142. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

By Stuart Hall

San Diego — Former U.S. Open champions Ernie Els and Geoff Ogilvy drew on their winning experiences during a second round that Ogilvy best described as “scrappy.”

On the ideal June Gloom day at Torrey Pines Golf Course’s South Course, and amid ripe scoring conditions, Els and Ogilvy were able to stay in contention despite some disagreeable moments.

Els, the 1994 and 1997 champion, birdied the 17th and 18th holes to shoot a 1-over 72, while Ogilvy, the 2006 champion, shot a 2-over-par 73. Both will head into the weekend at even-par 142, smack dab in the thick of things.

“I guess when you know you've won a golf tournament when it took 5 over to win, you can keep your head, or hang on when it's so darned bad,” Ogilvy said. “Because sometimes you can be contending in the U.S. Open and feel you're playing horribly, because you're bogeying holes.

“If you've done it, you can look at it objectively and say it's really not that bad.”

So it was with that perspective that both former champions, playing together, were able to dissect their rounds. Els opened birdie-bogey and plodded along, picking up bogeys at the seventh, 12th and 14th holes to drop back to 2-over for the championship.

Els attributed his second-nine bogeys to hanging his hands back and flipping his shots off to the left. After making the necessary adjustment, he gave himself three birdie opportunities starting at No. 16.

“Back to even par and in with a lot of guys, and thought, well, I would take that,” Els said. “Mentally I'm really up for [the weekend]. I've got no problem getting myself motivated. I feel a lot better now about tomorrow.”

Ditto for Ogilvy. On a day that featured three missed putts from within 10 feet and a pair of lip-outs, the 30-year-old Australian appeared to be leaking petrol throughout the round. However, by the time he walked off the 18th green, he stood just a stroke behind the mid-day co-leaders, Davis Love III and D.J. Trahan, who finished their morning rounds at 1-under 141.

“Really, it should have been easier today, but it didn't seem that easy to me,” said Ogilvy, who had 31 putts compared to 26 on Thursday. “The greens were definitely softer when you play in the morning, and they definitely roll a bit nicer when you play in the morning.”

Ogilvy said he often harkens back to the wisdom that Hall of Famer Judy Rankin passed along to him at Winged Foot a couple of years ago. Rankin said that people are always surprised to see the winning score when they open the newspaper on Monday morning.

Ogilvy also deferred to Mike Davis, the USGA Senior Director of Rules and Competition, as to what Monday’s victorious score would be this year.

“I'm sure [Davis is] not going to tell you what he's going to do,” he said. “Hopefully it stays how it's been, because if it stays how it's been, someone could go out and shoot five or six under, if they had a great day. It's obviously really hard to do that, but they could.”

Els and Ogilvy were surprised that the scores in the morning weren’t a little lower. Many of the greens on the long par 4s were accessible because of middle or middle- back hole locations. Also, the par-5 18th played from the uppermost of three tee boxes, making it only 535 yards.

Then again, Els and Ogilvy don’t want the field to run away from them, either.

“I mean, I haven't won in 10, 11 years, but there are two wins there,” Els said. “I have played well in the U.S. Opens before, so I kind of know what to do mentally and what to expect.”

And that showed on Friday.

Stuart Hall is a writer with the Golf Press Association whose work has appeared previously on www.usopen.com.

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