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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  • Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''