Ogilvy backs Aussies to contend at US Open

Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open winner at Winged Foot, has backed fellow Australian Adam Scott to create his own legacy at the brutal New York area golf course.

ADAM SCOTT of Australia.
ADAM SCOTT of Australia. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

There is an urban legend involving Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Ernie Els' private plane that has grown since the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot.

It goes like this.

Scott was seated inside Els' jet about to fly back to London. Down the road in New York's Westchester area, Ogilvy had one hand on the US Open trophy as Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie and Jim Furyk were all choking.

When Scott - 25 and based in London at the time - heard his fellow Australian had won, he walked off South African great Els' plane and caught a taxi back to the player hotel. Partied into the night with Ogilvy and others.

"I think the story got a bit embellished," Ogilvy told AAP.

"Scotty was sitting in a car with Ernie deciding whether to go to the airport and turned around. But it sounds better this way. What is true is we went deep on the afterparty and the 5.45am New York City media tour was brutal."

Scott, one of nine Australians in the field this week for the US Open's return to Winged Foot, insists the story isn't too far off the mark.

"It's very close to the truth," he said.

"Geoff had won, he's a good mate and I felt I should come back and celebrate. So, even though I haven't won the US Open, I've drunk out of the trophy."

But Ogilvy says Scott - who won his 14th US PGA Tour title in February - is ready to emulate his 2006 triumph at Winged Foot, the toughest test on the US Open rota.

"Scotty's capable and he's proven he can mix it with the big guys in majors," Ogilvy said of the 2013 Masters winner at Augusta.

Ogilvy rates several of the Australians this week.

Of the big names, there's Scott's fellow major winner Jason Day. He has two runner-ups at the US Open. Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith have won US PGA Tour titles this year.

Matt Jones, Lucas Herbert, Curtis Luck, Scott Hend and amateur Lukas Michel round out the Australian tilt.

"Cam and Leish could win," Ogilvy said. "Jason would've been the overwhelming favourite when he was world No.1 in 2015 and he's always a chance.

"But right now, the way (world No.1) Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm have been playing, you'll have to beat one of those two."

Recent winners Johnson and Rahm, as well as Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, are among the younger stars Scott and the Australians are up against at this spectator-less US Open.

There are veteran US Open winners such as Tiger Woods, a three-time champion, and in-form 2012 winner Webb Simpson.

But the biggest obstacles will be the narrow fairways, knee-high rough and lightning-fast greens that US Open officials will exaggerate in their set-up of Winged Foot.

Scott says he is ready for it all.

"I think I'm still in my prime and most courses fit my game because it's well-rounded, especially now," Scott told AAP.

"My short game has risen to a level it's never been and my putting has really come of age."

Ogilvy is optimistic the Australians will be in contention.

"Australians tend to do well at Winged Foot because of the firm greens; Greg Norman (lost in an 18-hole play-off to Fuzzy Zoeller) in 1984 and me in 2006.

"It's a short-game specialist's course and Aussies typically have great short games."

But Ogilvy admits Scott is his pick of the Australians, even if it's sentimental.

"It would be a storybook win for Scotty if you think back to 2006."