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An Australian tiff between Allenby and Ogilvy

By Doug Ferguson
AP Golf Writer / November 29, 2011
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.—The Presidents Cup ended on a sour note for the International team when it lost at Royal Melbourne. It deteriorated a week later when Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy, both Melbourne natives who were partners in a foursomes loss, exchanged heated words in the hotel restaurant.

Allenby spent a week answering questions about his 0-4 record as a captain's pick, in which he explained that his partners also contributed to the loss. He mentioned Ogilvy's tee shots into the trees and Retief Goosen missing his share of putts.

Ogilvy said on Twitter last week when Allenby got into contention at the PGA Championship, "Warms the heart to see Robert playing so well this week." He later told the media the tweet was genuine, though Allenby interpreted it as being sarcastic.

When they confronted each other in the hotel at the end of the week, according to various reports, Allenby suggested they take the matter outside and Ogilvy didn't back down. It ended with Allenby walking away.

At the root of this spat is the tendency to rate individual play in a team competition, which is never a good idea, and rarely accurate.

Allenby was the only player who didn't win a point, and first captain's pick to get shut out since John Huston in 1998. Those are the facts. Allenby was on the losing end to Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson, one of the strongest American teams, and he and Ogilvy were beaten by Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, a tandem that lost only one of four matches.

In the Allenby-Ogilvy match, Ogilvy hit three straight tee shots to the right. Two led to a loss of the hole, and on the other, Allenby made a 15-foot par putt to halve the hole. Allenby also made a 20-foot par putt to extend the match on the 15th, yet he missed four birdie putts inside 12 feet that would have won the hole. They ended up losing -- as a team.

When Allenby hit into a tree on the 15th, Ogilvy smiled at him and said, "Getting back at me?" It was good banter by two Aussies who understand that "sorry" is the worst word in team match.

And when the Presidents Cup was over, Ogilvy was genuinely disappointed for Allenby, knowing that playing before a home crowd was a big deal and that Allenby would be pounded by the press. And he was.

Furyk went 5-0 for the Americans, yet he had great partners in Mickelson and Nick Watney. Tiger Woods went 2-3. He has had better records in the Presidents Cup while not playing as well. A year ago in the Ryder Cup, Furyk didn't win a match. He also had to play a foursomes match against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, and he ran into an awesome performance by Luke Donald in singles. Furyk's play was inspiring it taking Donald to the last hole.

It's impossible to get a sense of who played well without watching every shot of every match. Individual grades are insignificant.

Allenby didn't want to rehash the argument with Ogilvy when reached Tuesday.

"I had nothing bad to say about Geoff at all, and I never really will," Allenby said. "It's such a shame it happened the way it did. The media were hounding me and giving me a lot of grief, and I felt like I didn't play that bad. My singles performance wasn't very good. I ran into a guy (David Toms) who played seriously well. No excuses there."

He would have done well to leave at that. Now, he returns to Melbourne for the Australian Masters with relationships to mend.

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THE DOMINATOR: Nick Watney has no plans to leave Las Vegas for the North Shore, but one venture into some rather tiny waves was all it took for him to get hooked on surfing.

Watney was at The Players Championship in May when he tried surfing with his caddie, Chad Reynolds, and Adam Scott. Reynolds lives in Jacksonville Beach, Fla.

"I caught about 10 waves," Watney said, as proud of himself as if he had just won a tournament. "It could have been they were just being nice to me, but they said I did good for my first time."

In October, his wife bought him a surf board for their first anniversary. Watney still had a flyer of the surfboard in his bag at the Australian Open. The name of the board: The Dominator.

Watney can't wait for the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. He plans to go out to Hawaii early and catch some waves, although he hasn't lost his common sense. He'll start small and work his way up.

"It's not like I'm going to the Pipeline or anything," he said.

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ASHES TO AUGUSTA: Jason Day said he plans to speak to officials at Augusta National about spreading some of his father's ashes over the home of the Masters. Alvyn Day, who gave Jason his start in golf, died of cancer when Day was 12, and one of his final requests was that his son spread some of his ashes at Augusta National if Day were to ever played there.

The 24-year-old Day tied for second this year in his debut at the Masters, but he was not able to consider his father's request because the ashes were at his mother's home in Brisbane.

"It's a plan but obviously if I don't get clearance from Augusta, I am not going to do it," Day said last week at the Australian PGA Championship. "That was one of my dad's wishes and if I was allowed to do it, that would be great. Obviously, I know how the rules are at Augusta, it would be probably very unlikely, but we will see how it goes."

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RYDER CUP MEMORIES: It didn't take long for Jose Maria Olazabal to get a taste of the Ryder Cup nerves, or what to expect from Seve Ballesteros as his partner.

Olazabal, the European captain for 2012 matches, recalls his first Ryder Cup in 1987 at Muirfield Village and "pretty much shaking like a leaf" on the putting green.

"Seve approached me and said, `Jose, you just play your game, I will take of the rest.' And you know," Olazabal said, "that somehow calmed me down a little bit."

It took only one day for him to understand what Ballesteros meant.

Olazabal said they were playing a fourballs match against Curtis Strange and Tom Kite. On the opening hole, Olazabal hit to the middle of the green, while Ballesteros went at the back left flag and missed the green. Olazabal ran his putt about 4 feet by the hole. Ballesteros asked Olazabal to putt first to get par, freeing him up for an aggressive chip.

"So I'm looking at the line and Curtis approached me and said, `Ollie, by the way I think you better not putt that one,'" Olazabal said.

Strange said Olazabal would be standing in his line if Strange were to knock his putt by the hole, so the Spanish rookie turned to Ballesteros and explained the situation. Ballesteros handled the situation as Ballesteros always seemed to do.

"He looked at me and said, `Don't you worry, I'm going to make it anyway,'" Olazabal did. "He chipped it in."

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DIVOTS: The McGladrey Classic has signed a three-year extension as title sponsor of the Fall Series event at Sea Island. McGladrey has signed on through 2015. ... The Titleholders will move to TwinEagles Club in Naples, Fla., next year and be played Nov. 15-18, the week after the PGA Tour's official season ends at Disney. TwinEagles also holds the ACE Classic on the Champions Tour. ... Ginger Howard, a 17-year-old who reached the final stage of Q-school, is trying to become only the fourth black player on the LPGA Tour. She has signed a management contract with IMG. ... Bo Van Pelt and Gary Woodland were added to the field at the Chevron World Challenge, replacing David Toms (fatigue) and Dustin Johnson (knee surgery).

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STAT OF THE WEEK: By the end of the year, Luke Donald will have held the No. 1 ranking for the longest stretch of any player besides Tiger Woods since 1995.

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FINAL WORD: "The better you play, the less offseason you have." -- Bill Haas, the FedEx Cup champion who got into a World Golf Championship in China, the Presidents Cup and the Chevron World Challenge.

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