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Joe's Excellent Adventure For Joe Ogilvie, playing in jolly old England was a hoot. Contending was an unexpected bonus

July 30, 2001
July 30, 2001

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July 30, 2001

Joe's Excellent Adventure For Joe Ogilvie, playing in jolly old England was a hoot. Contending was an unexpected bonus

A glow from his day in the sun--and a pint of lager--Joe Ogilvie
leaned against a lamp post in front of Taps, a pub in Lytham,
and drank in the atmosphere of the Open Championship. It was
Saturday night during the biggest weeklong party in golf, and
Ogilvie didn't want to miss any of the excitement. In a little
more than 14 hours he would tee off in the most important round
of his life, but for now this 27-year-old dreamer was content to
share the moment with friends, loved ones and the good people of
Lytham. Earlier in the day Ogilvie had ground out a 71 at Lytham
and St. Annes, leaving him only a stroke off the lead. "It's
such a special feeling here," Ogilvie said, taking a swig of
beer. "I've never experienced anything like it."

This is an article from the July 30, 2001 issue Original Layout

He had gone from the course straight to dinner, and now to the
pub, the sixth consecutive night he had visited this cramped
watering hole. He was still wearing his logoed golf shirt and his
plastic spikes. "At home we're in our own little worlds," he
continued. "Here there's no room service, no cell phone, no
Internet, no ESPN. It's almost as if you're forced to go out and
enjoy it."

Last week was strange and wonderful for the Ohio-born Ogilvie. He
went from fighting for his job on the PGA Tour to contending for
the claret jug. Packed grandstands, crowded press conferences,
rock-hard turf, warm beer--every day brought something new. In the
end his still-maturing game melted in the crucible of a major
championship, and he faded to 25th place. Still, for Ogilvie the
journey was more important than the destination. "I learned a bit
about how this game is played," he said on Sunday evening. "I
learned a bit about myself, too."

That Ogilvie even reached the starting line was an achievement.
He needed a 25-foot putt for par on the 72nd hole of the Western
Open to earn one of the last exemptions into the British Open,
but he wasn't about to withdraw from the Greater Milwaukee Open,
the tournament that fell between the Western and the British.
Ogilvie had made his second pro start in Milwaukee, in 1998, on a
sponsor's exemption, and the tournament remains dear to his
heart. "Joe's appreciative of the opportunities he's been given,"
says his coach, David Hunter. "He wasn't going to let down the
people in Milwaukee."

So Ogilvie's fiancee, Colleen Parrott, came to the rescue. Back
in their adopted hometown of Austin, she packed Ogilvie's
passport and pretty much every long-sleeved item of clothing in
his wardrobe. Following a 47th-place finish in Milwaukee, the
betrothed couple took a Sunday red-eye to England. Only upon
arriving did they worry about finding accommodations, which
turned out to be a downtrodden flat 10 minutes from the course.
"The bathroom is like this wide, and the whole place is from
about here to there," Ogilvie said on Saturday night, and you
didn't have to see his gyrations to get the picture.

Amid such foreign surroundings, Ogilvie felt strangely
comfortable. A stick figure in spikes, the 5'10", 140-pound
Ogilvie has a game that's built on control, strong putting (he
ranks 33rd on Tour) and imaginative wedge play, a perfect recipe
for Royal Lytham. After a nerveless opening 69, he birdied five
of the first 13 holes on Friday and got a jolt when he spied a
scoreboard on the 14th hole--his name was at the very top. He
held on for a 68, which put him at five under and two strokes
out of the midway lead.

Ogilvie has the clean-cut look of a J.Crew model, and a touch of
Wally Cleaver in him. He charmed the world's press corps, an
embarrassing percentage of whom had mistaken him for Geoff
Ogilvy, a promising 24-year-old Australian. Of particular
interest was that in the Tour media guide Ogilvie lists
financial markets as one of his hobbies and billionaire investor
Warren Buffet as his hero. Ogilvie is quite friendly with
Buffet. This summer he will play for the second time in Buffet's
charity tournament in Omaha. This cozy relationship has made
Ogilvie the unofficial financial adviser to the PGA Tour,
although his mother, Judy, offers the following disclaimer: "I'm
involved with a stock club here at home [in Lancaster, Ohio],
and I always call Joe for advice when it's my turn to pick. He's
picked some winners, but there have been some dogs, too. A lot
of those dotcoms were real stinkers."

The world of high finance is a long way from Lancaster, a town of
40,000 in the heart of Jack Nicklaus country. From age three
Ogilvie was a fixture at Lancaster Country Club, but when it came
time to pick a college, he said no to Ohio State (which Nicklaus
attended) and chose Duke. Unlike most of his Tour brethren,
Ogilvie earned a degree, in economics. He also developed a mania
for all things capitalist.

A three-time All-ACC player at Duke, Ogilvie turned pro after
graduating in 1996 and set out to hone his craft on whatever
podunk mini-tour would take him. For two years he wandered across
Asia and Europe, played the Dakotas tour and even spent a spell
in Colombia. Ogilvie never panicked, having given himself five
years to succeed in golf. "Joe has always known that he could go
into another profession and make just as much money as most guys
on Tour," says Hunter, who is the head pro at New Albany Country
Club, about 20 miles north of Lancaster. "That takes the pressure
off. He has always played with peace of mind."

In 1998 Ogilvie earned a spot on the Nike tour, and he made the
most of the opportunity, winning twice and finishing third on the
money list, good for a promotion to the big Tour. In 1999 and
2000 he showed steady improvement, finishing 137th and 92nd,
respectively, on the money list. This has been a season of
change, both professional and personal. Across the winter and
into the spring Ogilvie made substantial alterations to his
swing, working toward a longer, more upright action. In April he
and Colleen were walking along the beach in one of their favorite
corners of the world, Newport Beach, Calif., when she came across
a bottle buried in the sand. Joe and Colleen had dated at Duke,
and after having gone their separate ways, they found each other
again last year. The bottle she discovered had been planted by
Ogilvie, and it did indeed contain a message in the form of a
question: Will you marry me? The wedding is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Ogilvie missed the cut in 11 of his first 19 starts in 2001, but
he had made three in a row going into the British Open and
thought his game was cresting. After visiting his favorite pub
the night of his courageous third-round performance at Royal
Lytham, he got 10 hours of sleep but woke up on Sunday morning in
a panic. "I was convinced that I was going to win the British
Open and that my life would change forever," said Ogilvie. "I
might have been naive. I might have been trying to fool myself,
but I'm glad I wasn't like a deer in the headlights. I was loving
the challenge."

Ogilvie certainly didn't back off at the outset of the final
round. He opened with three pars, the last one saved by a
spectacular 230-yard nine-iron shot from the rough to the back of
the green. Ogilvie bogeyed the 4th, though, then dropped another
shot at the 5th when he found a greenside bunker. Striding to the
next tee, Ogilvie was surprised to see his uncle Ron Huston, who
had flown over on Saturday night from Hartford, in his gallery.
Several friends and family members traveled to Lytham over the
weekend to root for Ogilvie, and at Lancaster and New Albany
Country Clubs, scores of members turned out to monitor Ogilvie's
progress by means of TV and the Internet.

With so much international goodwill working for him, Ogilvie
couldn't help but birdie 10 and 11 to return to five under and
climb back onto the leader board. He made only one mistake coming
in, but it was a killer. Trying to rip a low fade off the 15th
tee, he instead sliced his drive out of bounds. The ensuing
triple bogey led to a 75. Had Ogilvie made par on 15, he would
have finished among the top 15, which would have earned him an
invitation to the British Open next year.

He lingered not on what had been lost but on what had been
gained. "I picked up a lot of knowledge," Ogilvie said. He never
suffered from jet lag, which he credited to drinking gallons of
water, a tip from Tom Watson. "I also discovered," Ogilvie said,
"that a pint of beer every night before bed helps you sleep."

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY FRED VUICHCOLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Glass mates Ogilvie (far left) didn't let being in contention keep him from enjoying a pint with Parrott, his fiancee, and friends.
"Here there's no room service, no cell phone, no Internet, no
ESPN," said Ogilvie. "It's as if you're forced to go out and
enjoy it."