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Geoff Ogilvy believes his links experience gives him a good shot to make it two majors in a row. (Photo: Getty Images)
Geoff Ogilvy believes his links experience gives him a good shot to make it two majors in a row. (Photo: Getty Images)

U.S. Open winner Ogilvy is soaking up life as a champion

A month after his surprise victory at Winged Foot, Geoff Ogilvy is still reveling in the life-changing triumph. After celebrating (a lot) in his native Australia, he's making his first start since the U.S. Open as a big, but not too big, star.

HOYLAKE, England (AP) -- Geoff Ogilvy has been spending more time at the practice range.

Not because he's altering his swing or breaking in a new club. It just takes a lot longer to get around when you're a major champion.

"I have a hard time getting anywhere," said Ogilvy, still savoring his stunning victory at the U.S. Open last month. "It's been a lot of congratulations and well dones and all that. Walking across the range takes a while because you have to see everyone. It's been fun."

The Aussie hasn't played in a tournament since Winged Foot, where he emerged with his first major title under the most unlikely of circumstances: Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both took double-bogeys on the 72nd hole when par would have been good enough to give either of them the championship.

The stunning finish -- especially by Mickelson, who moaned "I am such an idiot" -- took some of the luster off Ogilvy's gutty play down the stretch. He chipped in for par at the 17th, then got up and down for another par at 18 after his approach shot from a divot rolled back off the front of the green.

After sinking a testy 6-foot putt, he headed off to the scoring hut and watched the meltdowns by both Lefty and Monty.

"You'd obviously love to win it by five shots and come up to the last and know you've won it and all that," Ogilvy said Tuesday. "I definitely got a big break on the last hole with Monty and Phil. It doesn't happen to everybody. It usually doesn't happen. But I played 72 holes in less shots than anyone else, and I won the trophy."

Ogilvy had already planned to take some time off after the U.S. Open, which turned into an extended celebration Down Under. The premier of Victoria feted him with a party. So did his home club.

Then again, Ogilvy's triumph -- he became the first Australian to win a major since 1995 -- was a bit overshadowed by soccer's World Cup, especially when the Socceroos reached the second round for the first time the day after he arrived home.

"In 24 hours, it was all about soccer again, not the golf," said Ogilvy, who savored the chance to slide quickly out of the spotlight. "I got lucky in that respect, I guess."

Arriving at Royal Liverpool, he was hardly the star attraction, either. Tiger Woods, Montgomerie and Mickelson drew much of the attention during the practice rounds, while Ogilvy didn't even stand out in his own group Monday.

Fellow Aussie Adam Scott was swamped by autograph seekers, while Ogilvy had only a handful of people approaching him with pins and paper.

"Who was that?" one woman asked after her companion got Ogilvy's signature.

"That's the guy who won the U.S. Open," he replied.

Actually, Ogilvy always figured the U.S. Open would be the last of the four majors he'd have a chance of winning. Growing up, he got plenty of experience on links courses, so he thought the British would be his best chance for a breakthrough.

"This is the one the Australians dream of winning," he said. "The British Open is the one for the worldwide players, and the U.S. Open is the magic one for the U.S. players. If I was asked to prioritize when I was a kid, this would be No. 1."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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