SOUTHPORT, England – This 146th Open Championship began with a groan, as Mark O’Meara, the 1998 winner here at Royal Birkdale, pumped the first tee shot straight right, out of bounds.
“My day was toast after that first tee shot,” he said, “but I still had to play.”
O’Meara made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the hole, went out in 43 and thought he wasn’t going to break 90 in his 31st and final Open appearance. He instead settled down and shot 81.
“I don’t care if you’re 30, 40, 50, 60, whatever age you are, you really play a lot for your pride, too,” said O’Meara, 60. “I’m not very proud of what I accomplished out there today. I should have played better. I expect better.”
O’Meara said the R&A contacted him a couple of weeks ago to see if he was interested in being in the first group off Thursday, at 6:35 a.m. local time, with Chris Wood and Ryan Moore. In 1998, O'Meara won the Masters and then hoisted the claret jug at Royal Birkdale, a run that would eventually put him in the Hall of Fame.
Nineteen years later, it didn’t go as well.
“I was out of the tournament after the first hole today,” he said. “So that’s disappointing.”