By Dave Shedloski
Pre-round adjustments are essential for professional golfers, but Joe Ogilvie took it to a new level Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. His reward was a 10-shot improvement. Ogilvie shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 on Bay Hill’s Championship Course.
Just 25 minutes before his second-round tee time of 12:43 pm, Ogilvie retreated to the clubhouse and had his R9 irons bent 1-degree upright by assistant pro Josh Jackson. "It's not recommended doing something like that, but I needed to turn it around, and it worked," said Ogilvie, who carded the low round of the day and moved up 81 spots into a tie for 23rd at 2-under 142 after 36 holes.
He also put a new driver and putter in his bag. And if all that weren't enough, on the sixth hole, Ogilvie abandoned his cross-handed putting grip for a conventional one. He converted a 25-foot par putt at the sixth and then registered six of his seven birdies over the last 11 holes.
Ogilvie couldn’t keep the momentum going, however, falling back with a 79 on Saturday.
As for Jackson, a Pennsylvania native who has worked at Bay Hill for three years, he got the satisfaction of helping a player in the tournament, at least for one day. “That’s pretty cool that he played well,” said Jackson, 24, who also got something else out of the deal: a healthy tip from Ogilvie.
Scores were higher for much of the field Saturday as greens dried out and winds kicked up, so Ogilvie wasn’t alone in struggling. Among the disappointed was Sam Saunders, who rallied with birdies on two of the last three to shoot a 77 to complete 54 holes in 4-over 220.
“I felt horrible today … uncomfortable from the start and just didn’t hit the ball well. Didn’t feel anything out there,” said Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer. “At least I got it done and finished well. I was pleased with that.”
Usually it’s the finish of a golf course that bedevils players – and that often is the case at Bay Hill. But many players got off to a poor start Saturday with a bogey on either the first or second hole – or even on both, like Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III did. The par-4 first was the second most difficult hole on the day. The second, a par-3 of 226 yards, ranked fourth.
“They’re just two very long, difficult holes right off the bat, and the greens are getting firmer and firmer, so it’s hard work,” said Scotland’s Colin Mongomerie, who was paired with Saunders in the third round.
Montgomerie looked to be making a mess of the finish, but he holed out from a bunker for a par at 18 for a 71. “I think I get the most-improved award for that one,” he said.