Youngster Sean OHair has come a long way

By Doug FergusonMay 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. ' Sean OHair became the youngest player on the PGA Tour with at least three victories when he rallied to win at Quail Hollow. Just dont get the idea that the 26-year-old lacks much life experience.
With his baby face, slender build and a gullible grin, he looks like he is fresh out of college.
It is hard to believe that OHair turned pro 10 years ago, when his estranged father persuaded him to drop out of high school a year early as part of his master plan to develop a champion.
Or that he accepted a handshake and a hug from Tiger Woods while holding his oldest daughter, a precocious 4-year-old named Molly. He has an 18-month-old son, Luke, and his wife is expecting their child next month.
His education was like few others on the PGA Tour.
Kevin Na also skipped his senior year of high school in California and got his card through Q-school two years later. Ty Tryon earned his card at age 17, still a junior in high school. After a few unproductive years on tour, he hasnt been heard from since.
What makes OHair different, and what makes him appreciate what he has, is how he got here.
In a bus.
It was a 40-foot Fleetwood Discovery that his grandparents helped him buy so OHair and his bride, Jackie, could travel mini-tours, from the West Coast to New England.
I remember being on the Gateway Tour in 04 and having $2,000 in our bank account, and we didnt have enough money to play in any tournaments in the summer, OHair said Sunday. We were playing for a meal ticket for the next week. I mean, it was actually that tough. We constantly talk about that stuff and reminisce.
I think thats the stuff that makes this so sweet, he said. It makes the hard work worth it, and its just really nice to enjoy it with her, especially where we came from.
Most players only needed to find the golf course. OHair also had to find a place to park the bus.
His choice of a hotel usually was a Wal-Mart parking lot, although there was that RV park in Arkansas when a tornado passed 5 miles from where they were staying; and the time in North Carolina when a lightning storm settled over their bus for three hours.
In a motor home, if it sprinkles it sounds like hail, he said. So theres been some pretty freaky stuff.
His wife waited outside the tennis courts at Quail Hollow until OHair finished his media obligations, trying to get a handle on Mollys constant chatter and Lukes penchant for exploring. She is eight months pregnant, and the stifling afternoon heat didnt add to the comfort level.
They met on the range in South Florida, a time when OHair was breaking away from a father who once made him run a mile for every bogey on his card during his junior golf days. She played in college, and a few years ago during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, she shot 76 from the mens tees at Cypress Point.
Even living check-to-check ' when the check wasnt guaranteed and wasnt anything the size of what he makes now ' she never lost hope that OHair was on the right track.
The one thing about him is he never gives up, Jackie said. Even when hes on his way to an 80, hell be trying to birdie the next hole. He always believed in himself, his team and his talent.
That team includes his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, a steady influence as his caddie for the first three years on Tour, current caddie Paul Tesori, and swing coach Sean Foley, whom OHair said changed his career by rebuilding his swing.
Few players are in such a groove at the moment.
OHair looked like a sacrificial lamb at Bay Hill, when he took a five-shot lead into the final round over Woods, lost the lead on the 16th hole and could only watch as Woods knocked in a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win.
It was tough to watch, but OHair has been there before.
Only two years ago, in a tight battle with Phil Mickelson along the back nine at The Players Championship, OHair posed over a 9-iron on the island-green 17th and was stunned to see it sail over the green into the water. Even more shocking was the next shot, also wet. He wound up with a quadruple-bogey 7, which dropped him from second place to a tie for 11th, a difference of $747,000.
In the days after the Bay Hill fiasco, OHair gathered his troops and discussed the next move.
The conclusion was that he would keep putting himself in contention and be ready the next time, confident that it would not be that long before he had another chance, pleasantly surprised that redemption would come so soon.
That was one thing I kind of looked at after a couple of days went by, OHair said, referring to the Bay Hill loss. If I want to compete at this level, thats not the only tournament that Im going to lose. Ill be in the lead many more times and probably blow another five-shot lead. Unfortunately, thats part of competing at a high level.
These guys are the best players in the world, and me losing a five-shot lead doesnt mean Im a failure. It just means I got beat.
Such perspective is a big step toward success in golf, and OHair is well on his way. Quail Hollow was his biggest victory yet, moving him to No. 12 in the world ranking and to No. 4 in the standings to make the Presidents Cup team.
Related Links:
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  • South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

    Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:

    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''