Geoff Ogilvy tried swinging the cut-down club of his 2-year-old son in the hotel room. He moved out to the balcony to try a regular club, and the results were not much better.
Three days after gouging his right index finger on a coral reef at the beach, the two-time defending champion had no choice Thursday but to withdraw from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
“It’s just a shame,” Ogilvy said. “It’s a treat to play here because it’s just the guys who won last year. It’s just a place I like to play. The longer you play, you gravitate to the ones you like playing. And to miss out on that chance is a big part of the disappointment.”
Ogilvy said it was doubtful he would play next week in Honolulu, hopeful of returning at Torrey Pines at the end of the month.
He was denied the chance to join Stuart Appleby and Gene Littler as the only players to win three successive years at the Tournament of Champions. Instead, he joins Jerry Barber (1961) as the only defending champion to not play.
Ogilvy is looking at 2011 as a big year. After taking his long break in the offseason, he won the Australian Open and lost in a playoff at the Australian PGA Championship last month.
Nothing has changed except the starting point.
He said doctors told him he might be able to play without ripping out the 12 stitches, just to the side of his knuckle. But without being able to put pressure on his finger, he couldn’t swing the club properly.
“The prognosis is if I don’t do anything, it will be fine,” he said. “If you start messing with it, I don’t want to make a mess of the finger for the rest of the year, just to play one tournament. I knew I was pretty gone the day after (the accident). I don’t know what the healing is like. I’ve never done anything like this. And then this morning, there was just no way.
“It hurts to put my hand in my pocket.”
Ogilvy put a picture of his stitches on Twitter, and it wasn’t pretty.
“The wrong spot for a right-handed golfer,” he said. “If it was in the same finger, up near the tip, you could play. But near that knuckle joint is basically the point where it takes the force.”
The freak accident happened Monday at Ironwood, a beautiful stretch of beach below the Kapalua Resort. He had planned to go surfing earlier that afternoon but “the surf was hopeless,” so he went for a swim. Walking in shallow water, Ogilvy said he slipped on a rock and instinctively put out his hands on the ocean floor when he hit a piece of coral.
“I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “And then I saw blood gushing from my finger and thought, ‘Oh, I’ve cut myself.’ A few moments later, I realized it was pretty bad. It was weird.”
His only big break was a “Doctors on Call” office located 100 yards away. Coral reef can lead to serious infections, and doctors immediately cleaned it out and put him on antibiotics.
The cut reached the tendons, but did not do any damage.
Ogilvy is coming off a year in which his wife gave birth to their third child. He started well with his victory at Kapalua, but struggled the rest of the year until starting up again in Australia.
“The balance has returned. Everyone has adjusted to the new size of the family,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to this year for awhile. I’m happier with where my complete golf game has been for a long time. It’s just a bit of impatience. I want to get going, and it’s disappointing not to get going here.
“But in the big scheme of things, this just sets it back a few weeks.”
Ogilvy has been in Melbourne for the last three months and said he would leave this week for his U.S. home near San Diego.
He still receives $53,000 for last-place money that will not count toward the money list, and he does not get any FedExCup points. He was to tee off in the final group with FedExCup champion Jim Furyk.