A FairyTale of Two Seasons

By Mercer BaggsNovember 28, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part story (part 1) on the fairytale seasons of Jason Gore and Sean O'Hair
Jason Gore is not fat. He's ... robust.
Its not Gores fault that his pants split early during the first round of this years Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, and that he had to send his wife back to the hotel to procure a spare pair.
Megan Ann has always been there for her husband. Always helping, comforting, and even retrieving when necessary.
Sean O
Sean O'Hair uses his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, as his caddie.
This Thursday, she isnt the only wife in the gallery supporting her husband.
Walking hole-for-hole in Gores group is Jackie OHair. She and her mother-in-law, Brenda, are there to watch Gores playing competitor over the first two days.
As it has been for Gore, its been quite a bumpy road to get to this point for Sean OHair.
But OHairs story is nothing like Gores ' in the details.
OHair, now 23, wasnt a sensational amateur player. He wasnt a collegiate All-American. He wasnt even in control of his own future.
But, in general, their stories are similar: two guys, knee-deep in personal, golfing muck, emerge to reach dizzying heights.
OHairs tale received far more publicity ' and notoriety ' than he ever wished it would.
He knew it would be this way, long before he tied for fourth last year at Q-school to qualify for the first time for the PGA Tour.
He knew that at every tournament stop, with every interview request, he would be asked about one thing ' his father.
Marc OHair was in complete charge of his sons professional life, which meant he was in complete charge of every aspect of his son's life, because his son's life was all about golf. He told him when to wake up, when to eat, when to practice, where to play, and how he should be punished.
He controlled the strings. Until Sean severed the ties in 2002.
That was just after he met Jackie Lucas, and learned not only was there more to life than golf, but there was a much happier world for him on the upside of his fathers domineering hand.
Much to Seans delight, as this year progressed, the questions about his past and present relationship with his father lessened and lessened.
By the time he had reached the Funai Classic, all talk was focused on his outstanding season, and the only thing on his mind was taking his newborn daughter, Molly, to every Disney attraction possible.
Its going to be great. I dont think Ill do well this week, because I wont be practicing too much, he said before a brief session on the practice range Wednesday. He then added: The biggest thing of the year for me was the birth of my little girl. That was the coolest thing.
And thats saying a lot. In his freshman endeavor, OHair, who employs his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, as his caddie, won the John Deere Classic; made a whirlwind trip to St. Andrews for the Open Championship, where he tied for 15th in his first-ever major event; qualified for the Tour Championship; finished 18th on the money list with over $2.4 million; moved inside the top 40 in the world rankings; and is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.
Im loving life right now, he said. Some years are better than others, and right now Im having a great year.
Most every rookie has doubts as to if he belongs on the PGA Tour. OHair had his up until the Byron Nelson Championship.
Sean O
O'Hair had four top-10 finishes in his rookie season on tour.
The same week that Tiger Woods missed his first cut in seven years, OHair finished runner-up to Ted Purdy.
That performance locked up his card for 2006. But more than just a check for $669,600, it gave him an immeasurable amount of confidence.
That really kind of proved to myself that I could play out here with these guys, he said.
After a couple of mediocre months following his Nelson epiphany, OHair shocked even himself by winning the John Deere.
That kind of came out of nowhere, he said.
That also changed his life. He now not only believed that he belonged on tour; he had a two-year stay to prove it.
His career was set for the foreseeable future. His present, on the other hand, was a chaotic mess.
Thanks to his victory, OHair had qualified for the Open Championship. But he had no passport and no means of transportation. With dogged determination and a whole bunch of help from the John Deere people, OHair was able to make the trip to St. Andrews.
It proved to be Tiger Woods 10th major championship victory; Jack Nicklaus final major championship appearance; and Sean OHairs ultimate major experience.
It was just an awesome week. Plus I played great, he said.
A win is a win, but I think that was probably the best week of this year.
After receiving his financial windfall from the Byron Nelson, OHair bought a modest home more suited for a family of three. He then splurged a little bit after his John Deere triumph and purchased a Mercedes E55 AMG.
Gore got himself a little something, too. He purchased a new pick-up, and also bought his son, Jaxon, a swing set for his first birthday.
Both men are enjoying the spoils that come along with success on the PGA Tour. But neither is worried about becoming spoiled.
No, no, definitely not, Gore said. 'But, some of the perks ' Ive taken an appreciation for them.
Said OHair: I dont like to change a whole lot. I told my friends, If I ever change then kick me in the butt.
Nearly 5 hours after their initial encounter, Sean OHair and Jason Gore shook hands again. OHair two-putted for a par on the ninth hole, their 18th, for a 1-under 71. Gore did the same for a 4-under 68.
I enjoyed it, said Gore, who received his back-up pair of pants on the back nine.
Nice playing, replied OHair.
After the round, both were asked to put their respective seasons into their own words. And both men struggled to find the right way.
I think every day I kind of look back and see where (my wife and I) were a year ago or whatever. Its definitely been a fairytale year for me, OHair said.
Same here, Gore said with a big smile and an even bigger laugh.
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