A Strong Effort that Leaves OHair All Wet

By Associated PressMay 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Sean O'Hair didn't look at the water surrounding the 17th green, only the yellow flag that was waving gently 132 yards away.
In any other situation, the safe play is to the middle of the notorious island green on the TPC Sawgrass. But this was late Sunday afternoon at THE PLAYERS Championship, and O'Hair was two shots behind Phil Mickelson, who already had found land.
O'Hair told his caddie and father-in-law, 'I'm not playing for second.'
Two holes later, he wound up in 11th place.
O'Hair's hopes ended when his 9-iron flew a yard over the back of the green, making a splash he never saw, leading to a collective groan that he won't soon forget. His face was awash in utter shock, and he bowed his head as he walked to the drop area.
Then he put another ball in the water, this one skipping toward the back of the green and taking one place hop over the boards. When the hole was over, O'Hair had a quadruple-bogey 7, allowing Mickelson a carefree walk up the 18th hole to victory.
O'Hair also took bogey on the 18th, as he simply tried to get out of Mickelson's way. The outcome had already been decided. But that extra shot gave him a 76 in the final round, and the difference between runner-up and 11th place was $747,000, which is more than O'Hair earned from his only PGA TOUR victory two years ago at the John Deere Classic.
'I'll make plenty of money in my career,' O'Hair said. 'I want the crystal.'
O'Hair, 24, had a one-shot lead over Mickelson going into the final round, and that was erased on the first hole. Mickelson took his first lead with a 15-foot birdie on the seventh, and O'Hair came right back at him, holing an 8-foot par putt on that hole to keep in range, tying Mickelson with an 8-foot birdie of his own on the ninth.
It was only the second time O'Hair had played in the final group, the first time on such a stage, and he handled it well. And even after his forgettable finish, and the terse words out of his mouth about not winning, there were lessons.
'I think I'm going to win here,' O'Hair said. 'I don't think it's an 'if.' I think I will win here. I'm not going to let this bother me.'
It was a wild swing in emotions and expectations from a day earlier.
Late in the third round, he figured his tee shot on the 17th was well over the green, and O'Hair bowed his head and stood there with hand on hip, waiting for the inevitable. Instead, it stopped 5 feet away for the centerpiece of a birdie-birdie-birdie finish to take the lead.
On Sunday, he was posing.
'I thought it was good,' he said. 'I hit a perfect shot. When the crowd screamed, I thought it was going to be a cheer. And it was a groan. That's when I knew. I was little bit shocked.'
No one was more impressed than Mickelson, known for attacking flags when he has to. Mickelson said the wind was toward the island green when they walked to the tee, then felt the wind switch as they got ready to play.
If the wind hadn't shifted, Mickelson said O'Hair's tee shot would have been just right.
'I have a lot of respect for him the way he attacked 17,' Mickelson said. 'Unfortunately, the wind changed a little bit and went from hurting him to helping him, and the ball went long.'
O'Hair can look back on other mistakes, but not many.
He failed to make birdie from the bunker in front of the 11th green, and he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet on the 15th and 16th holes, as did Mickelson said.
But he doesn't regret going after the flag on the shortest, and most dangerous, host at Sawgrass.
'I' m not going to play for the middle of the green, take my two-putt and take second place,' O'Hair said. 'I was in a good spot to win, and I definitely tried to win. And unfortunately, I got kicked in the teeth.'
Related Links:
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.