O'Meara is in the hunt for first Champions win


POSTED: Sunday, January 24, 2010

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii » Mark O'Meara has yet to win on the Champions Tour, despite finishing second eight times in 52 events.

The two-time major winner had 16 victories on the PGA Tour, including the Hawaiian Open in 1985. O'Meara began his senior circuit tour in 2007 and is playing at this week's Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on a sponsor's exemption.

He worked his way into contention by firing a blistering 7-under 65 to finish tied for fifth at 11-under 133 through 36 holes. O'Meara begins today's final round trailing leader Tom Watson by four shots.

“;Anytime you're 11 under for two rounds, you can't be too disappointed.”; O'Meara said. “;The scoring is good. The greens are firm. Pretty true, pretty fast, not a lot of wind. That's why the players are putting some good scores up there.

For O'Meara, this is his first time here on the Big Island. And while putting is key, so are the approach shots on these fast, hard greens.

“;I could hit the ball a little bit better, a little bit more confidence off the tee,”; O'Meara said. “;My putting feels good. I'm staying steady. I've been practicing a lot at home, so I feel good about that. My game is OK. It's not exactly where I'd like to have it. But it's good enough if I can hit the ball better (today). Because I'm going to have to go low again (today). That's pretty much what happens around here.”;


Player does it again

South African Gary Player fired a 2-over 74 to either equal or better his age for the 29th time in a Champions Tour event.

The 74-year-old tapped in for par from 3 feet, but it was a birdie from the sand trap on the 16th that put him in position to equal his age. Once he made the putt at the 18th, Player said, “;I shot my age again.”;

Player won nine majors on the PGA Tour and six on the senior circuit. He continues to tell anyone who will listen that their body is a temple and they need to take care of it by eating healthy and exercising every day.

“;Nearly 25 percent of children in America are obese,”; Player said. “;That percentage is not acceptable and it's up to parents to find something for their children to do outside that they enjoy.”;


Dueling scorecards

Second-round leader Tom Watson had a portent of things to come when he missed a 3-footer for par at the first. The golf ball barely grazed the hole, dropping Watson into a tie with playing partner Tom Lehman.

Watson did the same thing again at the par-3 eighth when he missed a 2-footer and again at the ninth after sliding a 4-footer for par by the hole. Watson went from the sixth to the 14th without a par. In that stretch he went birdie, birdie, bogey, bogey, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie.

During the same stretch, Lehman's scorecard was boring by comparison. He parred every hole. Watson said yesterday that he is trying to work on the short putts that have become a nemesis for the 60-year-old, who missed an 8-footer for par to win the British Open last July.


Inside the numbers

The scoring average for the second round was 68.833, with the two-day total coming in at 68.889. The hardest hole for the second straight day was the par-3 fifth at 3.222. The only birdie was by Lehman, who triple-bogeyed it in the opening round. There were 28 pars, 5 bogeys and two double bogeys.

The easiest hole was the par-5 10th with a scoring average of 4.278. There were three eagles, 20 birdies and 13 pars. There were 25 rounds in the 60s and only four over par.