OMeara Cook return to scene of 79 showdown

By Associated PressMay 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Champions TourBEACHWOOD, Ohio – Since dueling in the final match at the 1979 U.S. Amateur, Mark O’Meara and John Cook have seen their kids grow up, what hair they still have turn gray and traveled the world to make a living.
 
And now they’re circling back to the place it all started.
 
O’Meara and Cook are among the 156 players who’ll tee it up Thursday in the opening round of the 70th Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in suburban Cleveland.
 
For O’Meara, who won the Masters and British Open in 1998, that championship match three decades ago was a tipping point.
 
“Look at what’s happened to a guy that grew up at Mission Viejo Country Club washing cars and picking up the range,” said the 52-year-old on Wednesday. “I’ve been very blessed, let’s put it that way. I had my ups and downs but the game has been tremendous to me.”
 
On that damp and drizzly day at Canterbury, Cook was seeking his second straight Amateur title. He was forced to eight extra holes in the quarterfinals before beating Lennie Clements, then subdued Gary Hallberg to make a return trip to the 36-hole championship match.
 
Heavily favored to win his second title in a row, the day spiraled out of control.
 
“By the time I got to Sunday, I kept pressing on the gas pedal but nothing was coming out,” said Cook, 51. “I was done. I was cooked.”
 
O’Meara ended up winning easily against his friend then and now.
 
The return to Canterbury has brought back plenty of memories.
 
“To have won the U.S. Amateur definitely got me started in the right direction,” he said.
 
Both have gone on to solid, successful careers as pros, O’Meara winning 16 tournaments on the PGA Tour and Cook 11. Now both are considered among the top contenders on the reconfigured 6,896-yard, par-70 Canterbury layout. They’re even in the same group in the first two rounds, playing with 1977 PGA Champion Lanny Wadkins.
 
Unlike the PGA Tour, where the prevailing opinion is that only a small group might have the experience and savvy to win a major, there is no shortage of possible winners this week. Forty-eight of the top 50 money winners on the Champions Tour are on hand. There are also 23 players who have won a total of 41 major championships, including Tom Watson (8), Hale Irwin and Nick Price (3), Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, O’Meara, Fuzzy Zoeller and Dave Stockton (two apiece).
 
Dale Douglass, who won a U.S. Senior Open in 1986, is the oldest player at 73. Several of the Champions Tour’s youngest players – those who recently celebrated their 50th birthdays – are considered top contenders.
 
O’Meara, Cook, Norman, Champions Tour money leader Langer, Loren Roberts and rookies Tom Lehman and Bob Tway – playing in his first tournament since turning 50 on May 4 – all were competitive on the regular tour and have carried it over or are expected to on the senior circuit.
 
Norman, of course, made a stirring run at the British Open a year ago before finishing in a tie for third. He also was fourth at the U.S. Senior Open, tied for fifth at the Senior British Open and tied for sixth at the Senior PGA at Oak Hill. Those close calls have fueled his desire to capture his first official tour victory of any kind since 1997.
 
“Any time you’re in contention, you get excited about playing,” said Norman, whose son Gregory will caddie for him while wife Chris Evert watches behind the ropes. “You get on that bike and start riding it and feeling the energy … that’s what we play for. When you get it, it feels great – even at this late stage in your life.”
 
Tway edged Norman by holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole of the 1986 PGA Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo. Now he’s making his major championship debut on the Champions Tour.
 
He laughed when asked if rookies are hazed. But he did concede that playing in his first senior event last week at the Regions Charity Classic was almost like turning back the clock 30 years.
 
“It was a different feeling. It felt kind of weird to tell you the truth,” he said. “It felt strange. I don’t know if it felt like I was just starting (out again) or what, but it was different.”
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

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    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

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