Playing Wie remains a highlight for Ogden
BREMERTON, Wash. » Clay Ogden fully accepts the fact that few in golf would know his name if not for Michelle Wie.
In fact, Ogden is more recognized for his win over Wie in the quarterfinals of last year's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship than his stirring rally to win the actual title a day later.
"She's probably the best thing ever to happen to me in my golf career," Ogden said as he prepared to defend his title. The 2006 Public Links is being played at Gold Mountain Golf Club -- about an hour west of Seattle by ferry -- beginning today.
In last year's championship, Ogden barely made it out of stroke play, earning the 63rd of 64 spots. But in match play, the senior-to-be at BYU found his putting stroke to the dismay of his opponents.
Ogden won close matches in the first two rounds, then beat Andrew Black 3 and 2 to set up a date with Wie in the quarterfinals.
Playing in front of the biggest crowd he'd ever seen, Ogden birdied four of the first five holes and never let Wie into the match. He cruised to a 5-and-4 victory. Wie was the first female to play in a men's championship conducted by the United States Golf Association.
For officials at Gold Mountain, there was disappointment when Wie announced she was turning pro. Last year at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio, Wie's presence turned the amateur championship into a big media event. With every victory during match play, the crush of attention on Wie, then 15, grew exponentially.
Ogden couldn't help but marvel at the scene. During the first two rounds of stroke play, Ogden and Wie teed off at the same time, but started on opposite sides of the course. Ogden remembered trying to traverse crowds of 3,000 or 4,000 following Wie as he tried to make the turn.
"I turned to my dad and said I thought it'd be kind of funny if I got matched against her," Ogden said. "When it happened, I just kind of chuckled about it."