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OMeara May Be Down to His Last Card

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Mark O'Meara has been the model of consistency during a 23-year career on the PGA Tour with 16 victories, two major championships and never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list.
 
But at age 46, and struggling with his putting, O'Meara finds himself in a precarious position.
 
He made the cut on the number at the 84 Lumber Classic - his first cut since the British Open - but didn't hit another shot because a 36-hole Sunday meant only those closest to the top 60 played the final two rounds.
 
O'Meara had to settle for a tie for 69th and earned $7,560, leaving him at 134th on the money list as he takes a month break from golf.
 
He has only two tournaments left - Disney and Tampa - to keep his card for 2004. Otherwise, O'Meara will be forced to use his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the career money list.
 
This is noteworthy because of what happened in a conference room six years ago.
 
O'Meara was on the PGA Tour policy board in 1997 and was among those strongly in favor of getting rid of 10-year exemptions that came with winning majors, The Players Championship and the World Series of Golf.
 
The tour was concerned some players were becoming ceremonial figures during the latter part of that 10-year free pass, and the board voted in November to reduce the exemption to five years starting in 1998.
 
Just his luck, O'Meara won the Masters and the British Open that year.
 
His five-year exemption runs out this year.
 
Timing is everything.
 
Corey Pavin is 146th on the money list. Unless he improves in the next two months, this will be the fifth time in the last seven years he has finished outside the top 125. Pavin, however, is exempt through 2005 because of his '95 U.S. Open victory at Shinnecock Hills.
 
John Daly also is exempt for two more years from winning the '95 British Open.
 
Mark Brooks is 177th on the money list and hasn't won since the '96 PGA Championship, which makes him exempt for three more years.
 
Steve Elkington - remember him? - is 181st on the money list, but he's good through 2007 because of his victory in The Players Championship the year before the exemption policy changed.
 
The one argument O'Meara made during the debate on the 10-year exemption was getting extra time for multiple majors. Players get a two-year exemption for winning a regular tournament, plus an extra year for each additional victory that year.
 
O'Meara won two majors in one year - Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Nick Price are the only others to have done that in the last 20 years - but could be down to his last card next year.
 
WIESY DOES IT: Michelle Wie plays more tournament golf than Greg Norman these days.
 
After missing the cut in the Boise Open on the Nationwide Tour, Wie returns this week to the LPGA Tour for the Safeway Classic in Portland (Begins Fri. at 8:00PM ET on The Golf Channel).
 
The 13-year-old from Hawaii then gets a two-week break before going to Korea for the Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges Classic, which will be her seventh and final LPGA Tour event of the year.
 
Including her appearance on the Canadian Tour, Wie will have played nine professional tournaments this year.
 
What does next year hold?
 
Wie has lobbied for a sponsor's exemption into the Sony Open in January, where last year she shot a 73 in the Monday qualifier and missed by seven shots.
'I've been talking to committee members,' said her father, B.J. Wie. 'They're still taking her under consideration. They told me they would make a decision in November.'
 
Wie can forget about playing in the other Hawaii tournaments. The Mercedes Championships on Maui is only for PGA Tour winners, while the Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay is for winners of the four majors.
 
'The Grand Slam will be tough,' B.J. Wie said. 'Maybe she can play in the pro-am.'
 
FATHER LEONARD: Justin Leonard was four shots out of the lead at the John Deere Classic when he got the phone call he wasn't expecting for another few weeks - his wife had gone into labor.
 
Leonard chartered a jet out of Moline, Ill., at 1 a.m. Sunday, arrived in Dallas at 3:30 a.m. and headed straight for the hospital. His daughter, Reese, was born about seven hours later, weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
 
'What an amazing process and a true miracle to witness,' Leonard said.
 
He is skipping the Texas Open, which he won two years ago.
 
SERENA AND SORENSTAM: Serena Williams and Annika Sorenstam are the most marketable female athletes in The Sports Business Daily's survey of top marketing and advertising executives.
 
The athletes were given five points for a first-place vote through one point for a fifth-place vote.
 
Williams received 34 out of 55 first-place votes and finished with 219 points, while Sorenstam got 12 first-place votes and received 156 points. Mia Hamm, who finished first when the weekly magazine last conducted this survey in 1998, had four first-place votes and received 124 points.
 
The only other golfer in the top 10 was Michelle Wie, the 13-year-old amateur from Hawaii, who got 19 points.
 
DIVOTS: Annika Sorenstam will start next season Down Under when she plays in the Australian ANZ Ladies Masters the last weekend in February. Sorenstam last won the tournament in 2002, beating Karrie Webb in a four-hole playoff. ... Brad Faxon will be making his UBS Cup debut this year. Also playing for the U.S. team are Tom Watson, Curtis Strange, Mark O'Meara, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin and Craig Stadler. Six players are 40-49, while the other six are 50 and older. The Rest of the World team will include Nick Faldo, Barry Lane and Rodger Davis. ... The LPGA Tour stop in Oklahoma has a new name (John Q. Hammons Classic) and a new location. It is leaving Tulsa CC for nearby Cedar Ridge.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Colin Montgomerie is No. 32 in the world ranking, his lowest since he first entered the ranking at No. 36 in 1991.
 
FINAL WORD: 'When does he change his mind - after the shirts have been selected or before?' - Nick Faldo, criticizing Bernhard Langer for suggesting he would hand over captaincy of the Ryder Cup if he makes the team.

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