<
>

Aussies own presidential goals

LEMONT, Ill. -- Advancing to next week's Tour Championship is the first goal, but it might not be the ultimate one for a trio of Melbourne-bred Australian golfers who head into the weekend at the BMW Championship with more than FedEx Cup points on their minds.

Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby all find themselves scrambling to make next week's field in Atlanta, where a $10 million bonus awaits the winner of the FedEx Cup -- not to mention the $8 million purse for the tournament proper.

But it is a tournament that pays no money that really has their attention.

The Presidents Cup will be played in Melbourne, with all three having ties to the area. Ogilvy has a home on the Royal Melbourne course where the event will be played; Allenby has an outstanding record at the venue; Baddeley has played countless rounds there.

And none is assured a spot on the team.

The BMW is the last opportunity to qualify for one of the 10 automatic spots on the team that will take on the U.S. Presidents Cup squad, Nov. 17-20. International captain Greg Norman will then make two at-large selections to fill out the team on Sept. 27.

It would only make sense that the Shark, an Aussie himself, would be inclined to choose his countrymen. But he can pick only two.

"From Greg's perspective, it is obviously making it difficult for him," said Ogilvy, who could make things a lot easier on Norman with a good weekend at Cog Hill. "His communication has been really with me and I think most of the other guys, and he's been right on top of it. And you get the feeling he's been watching pretty closely all year because he does seem to be very in touch with what we're doing over here. I'm sure he'll end up making the right choices."

The International team is chosen on the basis of the Official World Ranking, and Ogilvy is 10th among players eligible, a fraction in front of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, who is not playing this week. Tim Clark, who is injured and not playing, is 12th, followed by Vijay Singh, Baddeley and Allenby.

Singh has played on every International Presidents Cup team dating to the event's inception in 1994, but has struggled for most of this year. He is well out of contention at the BMW as he stands tied for 68th in a 70-player field after 36 holes.

Ogilvy, of course, has the best chance to make the team on his own. He needs roughly a top-25 finish to stay ahead of Oosthuizen and snag the 10th position (although he probably needs a top-three finish to advance to Atlanta). But other outcomes could influence the automatic qualifiers.

Baddeley, who needs to finish among the top 50 to advance to the Tour Championship, needs to finish sixth or better to move into the top 10 for the Presidents Cup. Allenby needs a top-four finish for Atlanta, and a top-five result at least for the Presidents Cup.

And then there is another Aussie, John Senden, who could make things interesting with a victory. He is 23rd in the Presidents Cup standings, so only a win gets him in the top 10. But he put himself in position on Friday, with a 5-under-par 66 that put him in fourth place, 3 strokes behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Mark Wilson.

"It would be fantastic, it's one of my dreams," said Senden, who is unlikely to be picked if he does not make the team on his own. "I've been thinking about it for two years now and trying to work as hard as I can to get there."

Baddeley, 30, grew up about an hour from Royal Melbourne and counts it among his favorite courses, one he's played too many times to count.

"I don't want to be in Melbourne and not playing," said Baddeley, who captured the Northern Trust Open earlier this year, his third PGA Tour victory, and shot 71 on Friday to stand in a tie for 38th. "I'll be in Melbourne no matter what and I definitely want to be playing and not a spectator.

"It's a huge goal, especially starting this year. Then getting that win early [in February] put it within reach. It's been a goal all year and I'm really on the cusp of it now and it's just a matter of having a strong weekend and if I don't make it, maybe it will help my case to get a pick."

For Ogilvy, 33, who began the year with very high hopes, it has been something just short of a nightmare. He began the season in Hawaii, where he cut his finger on coral in a fluke accident while swimming in the ocean. That knocked him out of several tournaments.

He then suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of action in the spring, and followed that with a stomach virus. That's why he's been struggling just to make it from one playoff event to the next. He barely got to Cog Hill, needing a birdie at the last hole at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

"It's frustrating because I was really happy with where my game was in January," said Ogilvy, whose 68 put him in a tie for seventh, 6 strokes behind Rose and Wilson. "Messed my finger up, hurt my shoulder, had kind of a strange digestive sickness there for a while. So it really didn't go very well for me this year.

"It's been frustrating for me because it's the last year I would like to play poorly in, the year that the Presidents Cup is being played in Australia."

Then there is Allenby, 40, who is a far better player than his PGA Tour record suggests. The last of his four tour victories came in 2001 -- and yet in the 10 years since he has earned $20 million.

Allenby has 18 other international victories, including 14 in Australia and the triple crown in 2005 when he won the Australian Open, the Australian PGA and the Australian Masters.

He also finished second at the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne as an amateur.

The Presidents Cup was played there in 1998, but two years earlier Allenby had been involved in a serious auto accident. He was back playing golf, but missed making the team.

"I can only control my own," said Allenby, who is tied for fifth, 5 strokes back of 36-hole co-leaders Rose and Wilson. "Obviously I've come here to try and play as good as I can and first of all make next week. That's my No. 1 goal. And then my second goal is to make the Presidents Cup. I figure that if I take care of the first goal, it'll take care of the second goal. I mean, I feel like I'm playing pretty good. Just got to keep scoring well, that's all."

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.