OHair-Raising Experience for Rookie

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The last 60 hours were still a blur for Sean O'Hair when he trudged off the Old Course at St. Andrews late Wednesday afternoon after his only practice round for the British Open.
 
It started with his unlikely victory in the John Deere Classic, where he closed with a 65 and earned a trip to St. Andrews. Monday was his 23rd birthday, which he celebrated with a phone stuck in his ear as people in high places tried to arrange for a passport. He got it Tuesday, just in time to board a flight to Scotland.
 
And even that wasn't a chance to catch his breath. O'Hair can't sleep on planes.
 
'I was a little low on energy,' O'Hair said. 'But right when I walked down these steps and onto the first tee, I got goose bumps. It was definitely worth coming.'
 
It was a trip no one saw coming, least of all O'Hair.
 
Eight months ago, he had never played anywhere but the smallest of minor leagues. Only the hardcore golf fans would remember him from that '60 Minutes' episode in which father boasted about treating him as a commodity, forcing him to turn pro before the kid even got out of high school.
 
Since earning his tour card last December, O'Hair has gone from nowhere to No. 53 in the world ranking in just 18 starts. He has a victory and a runner-up finish (Byron Nelson Championship), has earned a trip to the PGA Championship, and is likely to at least finish in the top 40 and get to the Masters.
 
'I thought about all that stuff,' O'Hair said. 'It really cool. I told my wife she would have to pinch me because this feels like a dream.'
 
First things first.
 
O'Hair finally left the course about 8 p.m. to grab something to eat and sleep as long as he could. He tees off at 10:15 a.m. with Danny Chia and Patrik Sjoland, and with the handicap of having only seen the Old Course once.
 
He at least got to play his practice round with Tom Lehman, a former Open champion, along with David Frost and newcomer Tim Petrovic.
 
'When I got here from the airport and saw the grandstands on 1 and 18, I've never seen anything like this in my entire life,' O'Hair said. 'I don't know how well I'm going to play. I really don't know the course, but I'm going to do my best. It's really a huge honor to be here.'
 
The only negative part of his trip was that he could only come with Steve Lucas, his father-in-law and caddie. O'Hair's wife and 5-month-old daughter had to stay behind in Philadelphia.
 
O'Hair might be the only professional golfer who didn't have a passport, although he can be excused for that since he didn't even have a PGA Tour card until last December.
 
He came to St. Andrews with his family when he was a teenager, but hasn't seen his passport since. O'Hair said tournament officials at the John Deere Classic worked furiously to get him a new one.
 
But he never thought about not coming.
 
'It was the right thing to do,' O'Hair said. 'It's a great experience for a player. It's respectful to the John Deere Classic, because they worked hard to get you a spot. And a lot of U.S. players say this is the best major. I don't know, because I haven't
played the others.
 
'But there is something a little different and special about here.'
 
He'd like to take back some memories from St. Andrews, and he already has one -- getting here.
 
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.