OHairs Ascent Lehman Keeping Tabs

By Mercer BaggsAugust 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Sean OHair is a PGA Tour winner, a millionaire, and a man content with life who is preparing to play in his second career major championship.
 
It wasnt that way a year ago.
 
David Leadbetter and Sean O
Sean O'Hair chats with instructor David Leadbetter during Wednesday's practice round.
I know I was playing the Cleveland Tour last year this time, he said. Im not exactly sure where I was on the mini-tours obviously; traveling with my wife in our motor home from tournament to tournament, which is kind of funny when you think about it. So Ive come a long way in a year.
 
OHair, who made it through all three stages of Q-School in 2004, started his rookie season in the big leagues with one goal in mind: keeping his card.
 
But with a victory in the John Deere Classic, those goals have changed. He no longer has to worry about keeping his playing status and can focus on adding to his trophy collection.
 
Theres a lot of big tournaments coming up, and I just want to improve each week on whatever I need to improve on and try to learn as much as a can, said OHair, who tied for 15th in his major debut at the Open Championship.
 
I want to play well and obviously want to win, but right now I dont think Im quite seasoned enough to come into a tournament like this, or any kind of tournament, and say, you know, well, Im going to win this event.
 
Still, OHair, the winner of the 1998 PGA Junior Championship, thinks he can contend on the Lower Course at Baltusrol.
 
I think I definitely have the ability to play well this week, he said. Whenever Im playing well, I hit the ball fairly long and straight. Thats normally the strength of my game, the driver. And the driver is the key on this golf course.
 
UNDER HIS WATCHFUL EYE:
The Ryder Cup is still over a year away, but U.S. captain Tom Lehman is already keeping tabs on potential team members.
 
I definitely pay attention to how guys are performing, and not just the points list, Lehman said, but also to where guys are finishing also in the big events.
 
Its always been my opinion the best players seem to be able to elevate their games in the big tournaments ' majors and The Players Championship and the World Golf Championships.
 
Lehman has competed on three Ryder Cup teams, but hes getting a better understanding of the biennial event while serving a captaincy role.
 
Ive come to understand a little bit more what the Ryder Cup probably means to not only just the players, but the media and the fans, as well, he said.
 
I spent three weeks in Europe, and a typical conversation like at the British Open would be: Hey, nice birdie on 15. Whos going to win the Ryder Cup? Then from there it goes to: Well, I sure liked the results (in 2004); I hope we beat you again like at Oakland Hills.
 
It was hundreds, if not thousands of golf fans with that kind of enthusiasm.
 
Its the biggest event in golf (for Europeans) and theres no bigger thing to win than being a part of a winning Ryder Cup team,' he added. 'I think thats been hugely beneficial to me, understanding that mentality, because you need to have the same exact mentality, if not better, to beat them.
 
Lehman added that he will be watching this years Presidents Cup intently.
 
Ill definitely pay attention to who is playing with whom, he said. Ill be very interested to see who (U.S. captain) Jack (Nicklaus) pairs together.
 
I also think its very important for the U.S. team that they win. I think its actually a huge week for the U.S. players.
 
GIVE HIM THE MIC:
As defending champion, Vijay Singh was the man of the hour at Tuesday nights Champions Dinner.
 
Yeah, my second job I think is going to be emcee if anybody wants to have me. I think I did a great job, he said with a big laugh.
 
He later said he was just joking: I think I screwed up. I was OK. You know, I wouldnt take that as a job, no. No, thank you. Id do something else. I make people laugh, thats about all.
 
Singh said the dinner consisted of Thai food from his favorite restaurant in Atlanta, Ga., as well as a few bottles of wine. He gave his fellow PGA Championship winners Fenwick fishing rods and a one-year subscription to Bassmaster Magazine.
 
I thought Id give something that everybody would be able to do, and fishing, a lot of players love fishing, he said. The Fenwick shaft was actually tested by NASA, in the shuttle that just flew over two days ago so its the only one of a kind. I thought I would mention that.
 
Players wives received Thai silk robes.
 
PART OF THE GROUP:
David Toms, as the 2001 winner, was in attendance at the Champions Dinner. He said his favorite part wasnt the food or the gifts, but the company.
 
Listening to Jack (Nicklaus) speak was a highlight. Just listening to him talk about his experiences at Baltusrol, Toms said. Its just great to be among that group.
 
HAMILTON READY TO START ANEW:
Speaking of special engagements, Todd Hamilton attended his first Champions Dinner at the Open Championship four weeks ago.
 
I got to sit between two guys that had won the tournament five times apiece, in Peter Thomson and Tom Watson, Hamilton said. It was a magical experience. I felt a little out of place, but I guess I earned my way to get in there.
 
Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a playoff in the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon. He since has only one top-10, and none this season.
 
He missed the cut at St. Andrews, and said that he was glad to put his Open champion reign behind him.
 
Im kind of glad that years over with. I didnt really play all that well after (winning) for quite a while, he said, adding that his expectations are still that of a major champion. Whether its a (regular) tournament, whether its a major, or whether its playing back home with my friends, it doesnt matter. I expect to play well.
 
As for his chances this week, in his first major since giving back the claret jug: Its going to be pretty tough. Youve got to drive it straight, and Im not driving it straight at the moment.
 
PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?!?:
 
The PGA Championship will once again use a three-hole playoff should there be the need for one.
 
Players will compete on the 194-yard, par-3 fourth; the 423-yard, par-4 fifth; and the 554-yard, par-5 18th.
 
Tiger Woods defeated Bob May in 2000, the first year a three-hole playoff was used. Vijay Singh used the cumulative session to defeat Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard a year ago.
 
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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

    Anxiety.

    Frustration.

    Anger.

    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”