PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A change in scenery is helping turn Geoff Ogilvy’s disappointing season around at the Honda Classic. It might even land him a spot in the Masters Tournament in just over five weeks.
Ogilvy had missed four cuts in a row leading into this event, the first stop on the Florida Swing after eight weeks in Hawaii, the west coast and the southwest. His world ranking, which was 51st at the start of the season, has dropped to 79th.
Ogilvy, whose best route into what would be his eighth consecutive Masters appearance would be to win leading up to Augusta National, is in position to do just that today.
“I will be very disappointed if I don’t get to play the Masters, for sure,” said Ogilvy, who tied for fourth place in the 2011 Masters.
After even-par 70 on Saturday at PGA National’s Champion Course, the Australian is two shots off the lead shared by former Alabama golfer Michael Thompson (70) and PGA Tour rookie Luke Guthrie (71), the second-round leader. The co-leaders are at 8-under 202 for 54 holes.
On a difficult scoring day at PGA National, Ogilvy, who opened with 68-66 and was three shots back after two rounds, picked up ground on the co-leaders, who have never won on the PGA Tour. Ogilvy has seven career PGA Tour titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, and is tied for third place with No. 9-ranked Lee Westwood, who shot 70. Westwood is going for his 40th worldwide victory.
The tour’s move to the east coast has brought Ogilvy’s game back to life.
“I’ve always been happy when I got here to Florida, even though live on the West Coast,” Ogilvy said. “When I come over here, I usually play pretty well my first few weeks over here.”
Ogilvy bogeyed the first two holes on Saturday, but still finished at even par to move closer to the lead.
“I knew it was going to be a hard day; I knew even par would be a good score,” Ogilvy said. “I’ve had big scores on days like this. I’ve blown scores on days like this when I’ve gotten a little bit impatient.”
Ogilvy’s not the only player near the top with a shot to earn a Masters invite today with a victory. The others are Guthrie, Augusta native Charles Howell (71 on Saturday) and Canadian Graham DeLaet (73).
“It would be awesome,” Guthrie said of earning a Masters invitation today. “It’s one of the coolest majors. Just to play Augusta National ... that’s where you want to be as a golfer in April.”
Howell is tied for fifth place with Rickie Fowler (69), three shots off the lead. DeLeat is among a group tied for fifth place, four shots back.
“I just need to play well,” said Howell, who is line to qualify for this week’s Cadillac Championship at Doral through FedEx Cup points today. “It’s going to be difficult again tomorrow. The wind’s going to blow like this again. The golf course is the big story now.
“I think you could have quite a lot of guys win,” said Howell, who is ranked 64th and is trying to make it into the top 50 in the world ranking by the end of the Houston Open on March 31 to qualify for the Masters. “ Someone could shoot a low numberand pass a lot of people. History has shown that it’s out there.”