Notes OMearas Focus Gone Fishing

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U.S. Senior OpenHAVEN, Wis. -- These days, Mark O'Meara would rather be fly fishing.
 
'I enjoy my time away from the game,' said O'Meara, the 1998 Masters and British Open champion who is at Whistling Straits for the U.S. Senior Open that begins Thursday. 'I owe everything to the game of golf, but there are times where the passion is not quite the same as it once was.'
 
The 50-year-old O'Meara had no complaints when the U.S. Open began last month at Oakmont without him. He failed to qualify.
 
'I was in the river fly fishing pretty much every day,' O'Meara said. 'On Sunday, I had a great afternoon. The river was on fire, catching fish left and right.'
 
He didn't hear Angel Cabrera had won until he got a call from overseas. Even then, it was no big deal.
 
'The problem I have is whenever the fly fishing is great somewhere in the world, I base (my golf) around the fishing schedule,' he said. 'When the fishing is good, it's hard to play. That's what I worked for: To make the money to where I can back off and do things I love to do.'
 
Staying in hotels in far off locales where golf tournaments are held no longer has the appeal it used to.
 
'I would rather be in the river somewhere where I know the hatch is going off and the fishing is phenomenal than in a hotel somewhere playing any event, Champions Tour or regular Tour, and thinking, 'Why am I not doing that right now?'' he said.
 
O'Meara had just spotted a moose while rowing in the Snake River with his son when he realized his 27-year professional career had given him perspective for his struggle to stay competitive on golf's highest stage.
 
'It's not that I don't love playing golf, but I wouldn't say I'm quite as passionate as I was when I started with my Volkswagen Rabbit and my wife and no money,' he said. 'I think life is all about understanding what is important to you, and some guys that have played really well didn't quite have the same career I had on the regular tour.'
 
O'Meara said he'll re-evaluate how long he wants to continue playing after three years of playing about 60 percent of the Champions Tour schedule.
 
'It's going to be on performance and that's why I say, give myself three years, see how I do. And if after three years, I don't feel comfortable where I'm standing in my game, then it may be time to retire and move on, do something else.'
 
It's easy to guess just what those plans would entail.
 
'You get in an area in your life where financially, you're somewhat secure, there are other things in life besides playing professional golf,' he said. 'I have a lot of other hobbies.'
 
WATSON'S SECRET:
It took Tom Watson 21 years as a professional to transform from an average ball striker to one of the game's best.
 
'In the early part of my career, I had some streaks where I hit the ball pretty well, but I was never comfortable with my golf swing,' Watson said. 'Literally, in 1992, I kind of found my secret, what I needed to do to hit the ball straighter.'
 
Watson's secret?
 
'Very simply, leveling my shoulders,' he said. 'Keeping the shoulders more level at impact.'
 
Watson said he felt much stronger after that -- until his putting began to go awry.
 
'You have to make putts to win, so I had a lot of tournaments where I could have won if the putter acted well, but it didn't,' Watson said.
 
TIME OUT FOR DE LA TORRE:
Loren Roberts made a quick trip this week to see swing coach Manuel de la Torre, who was head professional at Milwaukee Country Club for 45 years until 1996 and PGA teacher of the year in 1986.
 
'I just kind of wanted to see what his thoughts were about the golf swing,' said Roberts, who visited de la Torre once about a decade ago and had his advice stick. 'What's so great about Manuel is that he talks more about the mental side of the game and the positive side of the game a lot more than the mechanical side.'
 
Roberts said that he sought 'pearls of wisdom' on how to be positive and visualize success from one of 'golf's wisemen.'
 
'A great gentleman and a great teacher,' Roberts said. 'He's interesting to be around because he has a lot of little great sayings about things. He gets the point across directly.'
 
DIVOTS:
Don Bliss withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open on Wednesday because of a heart condition and was replaced by Greg Shaw of Little Rock, Ark. Shaw turned professional in 2006 and played in the 2004 and 2005 USGA Senior Amateur. Shaw is the 12th replacement in the Senior Open field this year.
 
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