A FairyTale of Two Seasons

By Mercer BaggsNovember 28, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part story (part 1) on the fairytale seasons of Jason Gore and Sean O'Hair
 
Jason Gore is not fat. He's ... robust.
 
Its not Gores fault that his pants split early during the first round of this years Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, and that he had to send his wife back to the hotel to procure a spare pair.
 
Megan Ann has always been there for her husband. Always helping, comforting, and even retrieving when necessary.
 
Sean O
Sean O'Hair uses his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, as his caddie.
This Thursday, she isnt the only wife in the gallery supporting her husband.
 
Walking hole-for-hole in Gores group is Jackie OHair. She and her mother-in-law, Brenda, are there to watch Gores playing competitor over the first two days.
 
As it has been for Gore, its been quite a bumpy road to get to this point for Sean OHair.
 
But OHairs story is nothing like Gores ' in the details.
 
OHair, now 23, wasnt a sensational amateur player. He wasnt a collegiate All-American. He wasnt even in control of his own future.
 
But, in general, their stories are similar: two guys, knee-deep in personal, golfing muck, emerge to reach dizzying heights.
 
OHairs tale received far more publicity ' and notoriety ' than he ever wished it would.
 
He knew it would be this way, long before he tied for fourth last year at Q-school to qualify for the first time for the PGA Tour.
 
He knew that at every tournament stop, with every interview request, he would be asked about one thing ' his father.
 
Marc OHair was in complete charge of his sons professional life, which meant he was in complete charge of every aspect of his son's life, because his son's life was all about golf. He told him when to wake up, when to eat, when to practice, where to play, and how he should be punished.
 
He controlled the strings. Until Sean severed the ties in 2002.
 
That was just after he met Jackie Lucas, and learned not only was there more to life than golf, but there was a much happier world for him on the upside of his fathers domineering hand.
 
Much to Seans delight, as this year progressed, the questions about his past and present relationship with his father lessened and lessened.
 
By the time he had reached the Funai Classic, all talk was focused on his outstanding season, and the only thing on his mind was taking his newborn daughter, Molly, to every Disney attraction possible.
 
Its going to be great. I dont think Ill do well this week, because I wont be practicing too much, he said before a brief session on the practice range Wednesday. He then added: The biggest thing of the year for me was the birth of my little girl. That was the coolest thing.
 
And thats saying a lot. In his freshman endeavor, OHair, who employs his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, as his caddie, won the John Deere Classic; made a whirlwind trip to St. Andrews for the Open Championship, where he tied for 15th in his first-ever major event; qualified for the Tour Championship; finished 18th on the money list with over $2.4 million; moved inside the top 40 in the world rankings; and is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.
 
Im loving life right now, he said. Some years are better than others, and right now Im having a great year.
 
Most every rookie has doubts as to if he belongs on the PGA Tour. OHair had his up until the Byron Nelson Championship.
 
Sean O
O'Hair had four top-10 finishes in his rookie season on tour.
The same week that Tiger Woods missed his first cut in seven years, OHair finished runner-up to Ted Purdy.
 
That performance locked up his card for 2006. But more than just a check for $669,600, it gave him an immeasurable amount of confidence.
 
That really kind of proved to myself that I could play out here with these guys, he said.
 
After a couple of mediocre months following his Nelson epiphany, OHair shocked even himself by winning the John Deere.
 
That kind of came out of nowhere, he said.
 
That also changed his life. He now not only believed that he belonged on tour; he had a two-year stay to prove it.
 
His career was set for the foreseeable future. His present, on the other hand, was a chaotic mess.
 
Thanks to his victory, OHair had qualified for the Open Championship. But he had no passport and no means of transportation. With dogged determination and a whole bunch of help from the John Deere people, OHair was able to make the trip to St. Andrews.
 
It proved to be Tiger Woods 10th major championship victory; Jack Nicklaus final major championship appearance; and Sean OHairs ultimate major experience.
 
It was just an awesome week. Plus I played great, he said.
 
A win is a win, but I think that was probably the best week of this year.
 
After receiving his financial windfall from the Byron Nelson, OHair bought a modest home more suited for a family of three. He then splurged a little bit after his John Deere triumph and purchased a Mercedes E55 AMG.
 
Gore got himself a little something, too. He purchased a new pick-up, and also bought his son, Jaxon, a swing set for his first birthday.
 
Both men are enjoying the spoils that come along with success on the PGA Tour. But neither is worried about becoming spoiled.
 
No, no, definitely not, Gore said. 'But, some of the perks ' Ive taken an appreciation for them.
 
Said OHair: I dont like to change a whole lot. I told my friends, If I ever change then kick me in the butt.
 
Nearly 5 hours after their initial encounter, Sean OHair and Jason Gore shook hands again. OHair two-putted for a par on the ninth hole, their 18th, for a 1-under 71. Gore did the same for a 4-under 68.
 
I enjoyed it, said Gore, who received his back-up pair of pants on the back nine.
 
Nice playing, replied OHair.
 
After the round, both were asked to put their respective seasons into their own words. And both men struggled to find the right way.
 
I think every day I kind of look back and see where (my wife and I) were a year ago or whatever. Its definitely been a fairytale year for me, OHair said.
 
Same here, Gore said with a big smile and an even bigger laugh.
 
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    Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

    The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

    ''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

    Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

    ''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

    Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

    ''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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    Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

    In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

    Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

    Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

    Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

    ''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

    Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

    ''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

    Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

    Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

    ''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

    The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

    Getty Images

    Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

    Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

    Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

    Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

    Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

    One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

    On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

    "I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

    Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

    Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

    And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

    Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



    Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.