Mark O'Meara carded an even-par 72 on Friday to finish at 150. (Little/Getty Images)
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE Texas -- Steve Timms had made the offer a number of times, but Mark O’Meara has always said no. He didn’t want to take a spot from a PGA TOUR player.
But this year, the Houston resident played so well earlier this year in Dubai, -- and it was an off-week on the Champions Tour – that he decided to reach out and Timms, the tournament director, said yes.
Eighteen holes and 150 strokes later, the 56-year-old former Masters champ was glad he played – even gave himself a 7.5 or an 8 – but he was still headed back to his home in West Houston. It was the 40 on his front nine and the quadruple-bogey 8 at the 18th on Thursday that got him. He carded an even-par 72 on Friday.
“This,’’ he said, “is a big course.” Not that he’s short off the tee, but he can, at times, give up 30 yards to his playing partners.
And to his 23-year-old son Shaun, who was once a budding TOUR player. But Shaun didn’t have the game and, instead, took his Cal-Irvine degree and expanded Duvin, a clothing company he started in high school.
Dad couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s kind a wake boarding, skater, surfer look like Billabong and Volcom,’’ O’Meara said. “He’s been traveling around to music festivals and events, pushing it. He’s doing well.’’
O’Meara didn’t invest, but Shaun’s partner’s dad did. They borrowed the rest of the money and they’re going to stores to get the product on the shelves.
O’Meara’s proud pop moments don’t stop there, either. Daughter Michelle is an attorney in Los Angeles and stepson Aiden, 12, is a lefthander, pitched 3 ½ perfect innings the other day in Little League play.
Next up for O’Meara is the Masters, another course that’s gotten big for, not just him, but a lot of Champions players such as Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw. But, like Watson and Crenshaw, he’ll keep on playing until its no longer fun.
Check out the shots of the week from the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank and the Toshiba Classic, featuring Luke Donald, Mark O'Meara, Dicky Pride, Kevin Streelman and Webb Simpson.
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Kenny Perry won bragging rights to the 50-and-over competitors at TPC Sawgrass in the 2011 PLAYERS Championship, finishing 4 under after a a 73 on Sunday.
Perry, who has played in THE PLAYERS 23 straight years, owns two
top-10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass, tying for third in 1996 and fourth
Corey Pavin, 51, made his 26th start at THE PLAYERS, including 24 straight until missing 2008 and again in 2010, fired a 71 Sunday to finish 2 under for the week.
The oldest player in the field, 54-year-old Mark O'Meara, who was near the top of the leaderboard after a 66 in Round 1, never regained that form in the next three rounds and finished 8 over. This was his first PLAYERS since 2003, having qualified via his victory in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After opening with a 6-under 66 Thursday, Mark O’Meara had a harsh reality check Friday, shooting a 74 that included five bogeys and just three birdies.
The difference? Putting.
O’Meara took 32 putts in the second round, compared to just 24 on Thursday.
“I played reasonably well but I made a couple of mistakes out there today and certainly didn’t make the putts I made [Thursday],” O’Meara said.
Some of those mistakes included putting off the green on No. 15 and a three-putt on the island green 17th hole.
“That’s not too good when you’re a pro and you’re on the green and you putt it off the green,” O’Meara said.
That said, he’ll easily make the cut and go to the weekend at 4 under.
“I’m proud of myself,” O’Meara said. “I hung in there today and 4 under through two rounds is good around this golf course.”
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The first round of THE PLAYERS Championship certainly offered plenty of storylines on the opening day, beginning with Tiger Woods withdrawal due to injury to Nick Watney’s 8-under 64.
The latter leaves Watney one shot clear of Lucas Glover, who is in contention less than a week after winning the Wells Fargo Championship.
The most surprising name on the leaderboard Thursday? Mark O’Meara’s. The 54-year old shot a 66 to sit in a two-way tie for third with David Toms.
Five others, including Martin Kaymer and Rory Sabbatini, meanwhile, are another stroke back at 5 under.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Making his 24th start at THE PLAYERS Championship but his first in eight years, Mark O’Meara turned back the clock, shooting a 6-under 66 that left him alone in third place when he concluded his round.
The 66 is also O’Meara’s lowest round at TPC Sawgrass since he shot 66 in the third round of 1993.
The 54-year-old O’Meara, the oldest player in the field, won the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship last year on the Champions Tour, which is how he gained his spot in this week’s event. He certainly made the most of it on Thursday, especially on the back nine when he shot 4-under 32, including a birdie on the finishing hole when he drained a putt from 31 feet, 5 inches.
O’Meara also made a putt of 20 feet, 7 inches for birdie on the third hole, a 13-foot, 9-inch putt for birdie at the ninth, and a putt just inside 11 feet for birdie at the 14th.
“I think my attitude was good out there today,” O’Meara said. “I thought that was a big key, and I putted extremely well. I made some good par putt saves and I made some wonderful birdie putts.”
O’Meara has never won at TPC Sawgrass and has not played in this event since 2003. But he does have six top-10 finishes at THE PLAYERS.
Should O’Meara go on to win this week, he would be the oldest champion in PLAYERS history. In 2005, Fred Funk won at the age of 48 years, 9 months, 14 days.
The oldest player to make the cut in a PLAYERS was Julius Boros at age 55 years, 174 days in 1975.
MARK O’MEARA’S LOWEST ROUNDS AT THE PLAYERS
|67||2000||Fourth||Tied for ninth|
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Mark O’Meara is finishing up his first round now … and it’s been a good one.
The Champions Tour player is 5 under through 17, which puts him in a tie for third. O’Meara has six top-10 finishes at THE PLAYERS Championship.
O’Meara has the best round going among the afternoon wave. David Toms, Graeme McDowell and Steve Stricker are each 4 under on their rounds with a handful of holes still left to play.
Nick Watney will likely be the first-round leader when the dust settles after his 8-under 63 in the morning.
By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Here’s one for the old(er) guys. Early in their first rounds on Thursday, Champions Tour players Corey Pavin and Mark O’Meara are under par.
Pavin, 51, earned his spot in this year’s field by finishing 115 th on the 2010 PGA TOUR Money List. He birdied his first hole of the day, the par-4 10 th, and is 1 under through three holes.
O’Meara, the oldest player in the field at age 54, earned his spot by winning the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship last year. He made the turn in 2-under 34 with birdies on the par-3 eighth and par-5 ninth and parred the 10 th. It is his first PLAYERS start since 2003.
The oldest player to make the cut in a PLAYERS was Julius Boros at age 55 years, 174 days in 1975. The oldest winner was Fred Funk, at age 48, in 2005.
By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Mark O’Meara is the only player in the field this week who played in the first PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass 30 years ago.
“You couldn’t see any other hole from the hole you were playing,” O’Meara said. “Trying to explain that to young kids today – when you stood on the first tee if you hit it left, you might have a yard or two off the left side of the cart path and then it was Palmetto palms and shrubs, and the golf course was wild. They've cleaned it out.
“And in a roundabout way when you clean out a golf course, it’s not that this golf course is easy because it’s still a very challenging golf course. But it’s certainly not as intimidating as it was when you stood on the 18th tee back in the olden days and if you flamed it up over the right you were up in the Sawgrass bushes on the hillside. There was no grass where all the spectators are.”
Jerry Pate noted that in 1982 when he birdied the par-3 17th hole four of the five days (there was a pro-am back then) he hit a “cut 8-iron” and players today hit wedges.
Here is a yardage comparison between 1982 and this year:
|Hole||1982 yardage||2011 yardage||Hole||1982 yardage||2011 yardage|
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Has it really been eight years since Mark O'Meara played here?
Indeed it has and the defending Constellation Energy Senior Players champion -- and oldest player in the field at 54 -- brings some interesting perspectives to THE PLAYERS.
He remembers the old days -- his first PLAYERS was in 1981 when it was played across A1A -- and chuckles about trying to explain how the TPC played early on. And in late March, no less.
"Trying to explain that to young kids today ‑‑ when you stood on the first tee if you hit it left, you might have a yard or two off the left side of the cart path and then it was Palmetto palms and shrubs, and the golf course was wild,'' O'Meara said. "They've cleaned it out.''
Made a slew of other changes too. But O'Meara, who had five top 10s here in 23 tries during his PGA TOUR career and hasn't finished out of the top 15 on the Champions Tour this year, can still compete against the kids. Even if they do hit it past him.
"It's just amazing,'' he said. "I'd say I probably drive it ‑‑ at times in the last year and a half, two years, I've hit the ball as well as I've ever hit it in my life, probably even better than when I won both majors in '98.
"But in saying that, a lot has to do with the rest of the players in the world, you know, the European players, the foreign players, the young players, the college kids. I played with this young man a week ago last Monday at Lochinvar there in Houston, Cory Whitsett, who's a freshman, 19‑year‑old kid from Houston that's going to Alabama. He hits it 40 by me, left‑handed player.
And I reckon after playing 18 holes with this young man, I'm like, okay, I couldn't hit it like that when I was 19, I promise you. Not only is he long, he's got serious game. ''
And this week he faces a field of young tough players.
". . . Even though age factor becomes a factor in the golf game, the golf ball doesn't know how old you are down there. It sits down there kind of waiting to be hit. So sometimes when you're out there practicing, even though I'm 54, I hit it and I'm thinking, even though I'm 54 I feel like I hit it just as well as I did when I was 38.''
And, he grinned, what other profession affords you the chance to compete at a high level at 54? "We're lucky as heck,'' O'Meara said. " There's no question about it. But I do believe you're right. The kids are gone, a little more mellow, but that doesn't take away from the nerves and the wanting to try to win coming down the stretch. That's still the same. "