Rookie OHair Putting Troubled Past to Rest
It's the other stuff, the 'bad stuff,' that O'Hair doesn't want to discuss.
The 'bad stuff' is one reason he had a sports psychologist walking with him at Pebble Beach last week. The 'bad stuff' is why O'Hair hasn't talked to his father in two years.
O'Hair is a 22-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour with a story that will startle some, and be all too familiar to others. It's a story that millions can relate to, the story of a domineering father who had plans for his son and who went to extremes to make it come true.
When O'Hair told it before, he talked of long days on the road with his father, quitting high school to become a pro golfer at the age of 17 and then struggling to get into minor league tournaments. The two put 91,000 miles on a Ford Taurus trying to make O'Hair good enough to make the PGA tour.
Sean O'Hair talked about his father running his life with a military precision, getting him up at 5 a.m. to run and making him practice hours upon hours. When he failed - and he failed often - he would sometimes have to run a mile for every stroke he was over par during a round.
Father and son were interviewed in 2002 by '60 Minutes II' and Marc O'Hair estimated he'd spent $2 million trying to make his son into a professional golfer, selling his part of a business and moving the family from Arizona to Florida when Sean was 15 so he could attend the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
This wasn't just fatherly love. O'Hair had a business interest in his son, and a signed contract giving him 10 percent of his son's earnings for life.
'I was in a business for 20-plus years, and I know what it takes to make a profit. You've got the same old thing. It's material, labor and overhead,' the father said, adding:
'He's pretty good labor.'
O'Hair wasn't good enough, but he grew tough trying. He came out of nowhere to earn a tour card at qualifying school in December, and now is the second youngest member of the PGA Tour.
The card came at a cost. Since marrying his wife two years ago, he's been estranged from his father. He's about to become a new father himself, and his wife's father now caddies for him.
And, while originally eager to tell his side of a nasty family breakup, O'Hair now politely declines to answer.
'What's been said has been said,' O'Hair said after his opening around in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. 'I just want to concentrate on golf now.'
O'Hair concentrated well enough last week to use a third-round 65 to earn $40,015. He needed the boost in confidence, after shooting an 83 in the first round in Phoenix a week earlier.
His father, who could not be reached for comment, boasted to Golf World magazine earlier this year that his vision of making Sean into a PGA Tour player worked even better than he thought.
It also left O'Hair with a burden he will long struggle to shed.
'The most unfortunate potential effect is the young person is going to grow up feeling valued or loved not for who they are, but for what they accomplish,' said Dr. Dan Neuharth, who wrote the book, 'If You Had Controlling Parents.'
'For the rest of your life you think you have to be a certain way for people, not just be yourself. It's hard to trust people after something like that.'
With every bit of success, O'Hair will be asked about his relationship with his father. He won't be able to escape his past, just as Vijay Singh is still linked to an alleged cheating incident 20 years later.
That's why it was troubling when his attorney-agent, Michael Troiani, threatened last week not to allow O'Hair to speak to a reporter 'when he becomes a star' because he had asked about the 'bad stuff.'
Hopefully, Troiani was trying to be protective because O'Hair hardly needs another controlling authority figure in his life. And, hopefully he has a better understanding of law than he does about the way the media functions and the world works.
You see, people want to know about O'Hair's triumph over adversity. They want to cheer when he has success, and feel his pain when he fails.
Neuharth estimates 15 million American adults suffer from issues related to growing up with controlling parents. Many struggle to understand why they have problems.
'If you grow up with a very dominating parent you don't really know that is abnormal. You think everyone grew up like that,' he said. 'When people find out that it's essentially not their fault, it can be really helpful.'
One way they find out is by hearing stories like O'Hair's, and knowing they're not alone.
O'Hair doesn't need to become the poster boy for parental control issues. But he'd be wise not to run from the questions that will come at every tour stop.
It may not be fair, but it's just one more burden he'll have to bear.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”