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Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy at odds
November 30, 2011

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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