APL Championship Memories: Clay Ogden (2005)

Clay Ogden, the 2005 APL champion, is best known for defeating Michelle Wie in the quarterfinals. (USGA/Sam Greenwood)
By David Shefter, USGA
April 10, 2014

Clay Ogden, of West Point, Utah, became the answer to a trivia question after winning the 2005 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio. It wasn’t for beating Martin Ureta, of Chile, 1 up, in the 36-hole championship match. The rising junior at Brigham Young University became better known as the player who eliminated Michelle Wie, 5 and 4, in the quarterfinals. Wie, 15, of Honolulu, had become the first female to qualify for a men’s USGA championship. Ogden, an APL quarterfinalist in 2004, turned professional after graduating in 2007 and in 2014 has conditional status on the Web.com Tour. He also is married with two young girls, Charlotte and Samantha.

What was the atmosphere like as you prepared to play Michelle Wie?

It was definitely interesting. I had never played in front of that many people before. She and I actually had the same tee time the first qualifying days, just opposite sides [of the course]. When I was making the turn, I was looking at this massive gathering of people following her. Golf Channel showed up. ESPN showed up. I had played the Public Links [in 2004] and I thought this was madness.

How were your nerves?

I was excited to play. I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard how far she hit it and didn’t know if she was going to bomb it by me on the first hole or not. She hit a really nice drive and then I hit mine and hit it nice. I didn’t think I killed it, but I had some adrenaline going.

Were you surprised that you outdrove her?

We got to her ball and I kept walking down the left side of the fairway. Her next shot was a knee-high hook into a fairway bunker 100 yards out. I proceeded to birdie the first four or five holes and got off to a really good start.

After beating her, was it strange that most of the fans left, despite the semifinals being played that afternoon?

It was a little weird. It was back to [normal] all of a sudden.

Did you have a sense it was going to be a good week?

I had just started working with a new instructor a couple of weeks previous to that event and I was working on some pretty drastic swing changes. I hit a bazillion balls leading up to the event. But I kind of got a little bit in a groove. I was working on a few drills each day before and after each round and I knew where the ball was going. And I was putting phenomenally all week.

In the 36-hole championship match, you were 4 down after nine holes, but managed to trim the margin to 1 down by lunch. You hit a gorgeous 8-iron approach to 5 feet for a birdie on the 33rd hole to square the match. A chip-in on the 34th followed. How crucial was that shot?

I had hit it a little long on 16 (34th hole of the match). I was looking at my dad, who was caddieing for me, and told him, “This could go in.” And I probably needed it to go in because Martin was playing really, really well. I remember holing it and it all kind of worked from there.

What about becoming the first No. 63-seeded player to win a USGA championship?

I felt like I played OK in stroke play. I hit a couple of [bad] shots and had a few penalties, but once I got into match play, I don’t know what it was, I played really, really well. Once you get into match play, anything can happen.

Did you have any close calls prior to the quarterfinal match with Wie?

In my second match, I won in 19 holes over Derrick Whiting. He played at Colorado State and I knew him [from the Mountain West Conference]. We had a battle. I want to say it was No. 7, a little short dogleg par 4. It was a hole where if you didn’t hit it far enough left, there was a tree blocking your approach. He hit it way right into the trees and pitched out [to the fairway]. I hit this low cut 8-iron from 120 yards just perfectly onto the green. I remember thinking this is going to be a big hole for me … to go up in the match. And he holes his wedge shot and I end up losing the hole. I remember that hole like it was yesterday.

It’s been nine years since you won the title. Do people still talk about your win over Michelle Wie?

It’s faded a little bit. Every time someone brings it up, I’m the guy that beat [Michelle Wie].

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.  

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