Notes OMeara Barely Keeps His Card


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mark O'Meara felt the kind of pressure most rookies experience late in the year. Every shot counted if he wanted to keep his PGA Tour card.
O'Meara, who missed the last two months of last season with a wrist injury, was given a minor medical exemption this year. That gave him eight tournaments to make $79,396, the amount he fell short of 125th on the money list. The Zurich Classic of New Orleans was his final event under the exemption, and he needed $10,982.
``I felt like a rookie out there trying to keep my card,'' O'Meara said. ``Everyone says it should be easy to make 80 grand. Sometimes it's not when you're confidence is off.''
The first step was to make the cut. The two-time major champion was above the cut line with three holes to play Friday when he chipped in for birdie on the 16th, two-putted for par from long range on the 17th, then hit a wedge into 10 feet for birdie on the 18th to make the cut.
Finishing 70th would give him the money he needed, but when 83 players made the cut, O'Meara still had work left. Had he finished 71st, O'Meara would have come up $2 short.
Starting the final round in a tie for 58th, O'Meara opened with 10 straight pars before chipping in from 50 yards for an eagle on the par-5 second hole and making a birdie on the par-5 seventh. He closed with two straight bogeys for a 71 to tie for 52nd, earning $12,697, making it by $1,805.
``I haven't played well the last couple of years, but confidence is a big thing,'' O'Meara said.
O'Meara, 48, now plays out the season under a major medical extension. That means he no longer has to beg for sponsor's exemptions -- he already had them lined up for the next two weeks -- and all but assures he will have his card until he is old enough for the Champions Tour.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made enough money in 2003 to be eighth on the money list, earning $3.8 million in Golf Digest's annual list of highest-paid nonprofit executives in the golf industry.
Golf Digest used the most recent tax filings to compile the list for its June edition. The top five came from the PGA Tour, with Finchem followed by co-chief operating officers Charlie Zink ($1,156,308) and Ed Moorhouse ($1,156,291). It wasn't clear why Zink made $17 more than Moorhouse in 2003.
Jim Awtrey, outgoing CEO of the PGA of America, was No. 6 on the list at $662,751, while USGA executive director David Fay checked in at No. 8 with a 2003 salary of $563,348.
Jay Haas played in the Wachovia Championship two years ago with his brother, Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas. He played with his son last year.
This year, it's one big family.
Jerry Haas qualified for one of the two spots available for North Carolina sectional pros, and Bill Haas was given a sponsor's exemption. They played a practice round Tuesday at Quail Hollow, joined by Billy Andrade.
``I would have never thought any of that could have been possible 20 years ago,'' Jay Haas said.
It takes on even greater significance since Haas is a member at Quail Hollow and once lived in Charlotte, where Bill was born. Having Andrade join them was no accident -- everyone in the group went to Wake Forest.
``Somebody said, 'Hopefully, you'll be the low Haas this week,''' Jerry Haas said. ``I said, 'Well, if I beat these guys, I'm playing pretty well, because I'm sure they'll play well.'''
That still might not be enough. Also in the field is Hunter Haas -- no relation.
The USGA has accepted a record number of entries for the U.S. Open -- 9,048 players who will try to qualify over the next month to tee it up June 16 at Pinehurst No. 2.
The number of entries is 322 higher than the previous mark, set last year for Shinnecock Hills.
The entries range from 14-year-old Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., to 82-year-old Loyal Chapman of Minnetonka, Minn., including players from all 50 states and 80 countries.
A Hall of Fame is not part of the European sports culture, although the Royal & Ancient is doing its part to help educate golf fans.
The R&A has agreed to provide space inside the British Golf Museum at St. Andrews to allow the World Golf Hall of Fame to tell its story. The exhibit is expected to be ready next March.
``People make a pilgrimage to St. Andrews, and when they get to the British Golf Museum, they'll learn about the World Golf Hall of Fame and our place in golf,'' said Jack Peter, chief operating officer at the Hall of Fame. ``I couldn't be more thrilled with that. This is a major breakthrough for us.''
Seven Europeans have been inducted since the World Golf Hall of Fame opened in 1996 in St. Augustine, Fla. -- Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, former R&A secretary Michael Bonallack, longtime teacher John Jacobs and administrator Neil Coles.
Tickets for next year's PGA Championship at Medinah went on sale Tuesday, with 19 ticket plans. That includes a $300 package for all seven days, offsite parking and a program; a $165 package for the first two rounds; and $200 for the final two rounds. Juniors (17 and under) can get a ticket for $30 a day if accompanied by an adult. ... John Q. Hammons has extended its title sponsorship of the LPGA Tour event in Tulsa, Okla., through next year with an option to renew through 2009. ... Four players have won for the first time on the PGA Tour this year, although Tim Petrovic at New Orleans was the only American in that group. The others were Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Lonard of Australia, and Padraig Harrington of Ireland. ... Jim Thorpe donated his first-place check of $247,500 from the FedEx Kinko's Classic to the Crossings Community Church he attends in Lake Mary, Fla.
Nancy Lopez earned $73,500 from her five straight LPGA Tour victories in 1978. Annika Sorenstam earned $1.025 million from her current five-tournament winning streak.
The atmosphere of the whole tournament, it just doesn't have that intensity, I guess, that you see out here.'' -- Jay Haas, 51, who played a Champions Tour event two weeks ago.
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