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O'Meara battles back into contention with stellar 66
One of those players is 51-year-old Mark O'Meara, who is winless in 22 starts on the Champions Tour. That's a little surprising when you consider O'Meara is a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour in a career that includes two majors.
Be that as it may, wisdom played a supporting role in O'Meara's spectacular round of 4-under-par 66 at Oak Hill Country Club on Friday. After all, it was only a day earlier that O'Meara struggled mightily, like most, in the severe opening-round conditions and carded a 6-over-par 76.
With much improved weather in Western New York on Friday, O'Meara came armed with a much-improved game and soared up the leaderboard. That, he said, was due to experience in major championships.
"I think that most of these guys out here have had nice careers and they're established players," he said. "It comes down to just kind of hanging in there, hanging in there, especially when the golf course is a good test. It's a pretty difficult golf course out there. So you're going to make some mistakes, it's just that you've got to realize everybody else is going to have difficulties, too, somewhere along the round. So you've just got to try not to get going too far south. Just hang in there."
O'Meara got off to a blazing start in the second round with five birdies on the front nine and was 3 under through his first four holes. His birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 were made on putts inside of 12 feet, while the birdie on No. 4 came from about 20 feet out.
"I putted well yesterday and I putted well today," he said. "You've got to do that because you're going to have to make some birdies and it does come down to making the putts. And even making a good par save on 18 there, so I believe that 4 under is a heck of a score around this golf course. I think you take it any time of the week. Anything in the red is a good score."
O'Meara had to walk away from Friday afternoon feeling great about his work on the back nine at Oak Hill in the second round, where he "hung in there" and posted a 1-under-par 34 with one birdie -- on No. 15 when he holed a curling 30-footer -- and no bogeys.
On Thursday, O'Meara began the tournament on the back nine and had a double-bogey 6 right out of the gate on No. 10. Two birdies, two bogeys and a triple-bogey 7 on No. 17 later, he made the turn with a 5-over-par 40.
Again, the conditions were a whole lot different, a point that O'Meara drove home when asked what a 10-handicap would have shot.
"In the hundreds," he said. "Absolutely. The rough is about as thick and deep as it is when we played here in 1989, and 2003 when we played the PGA, but not much different though."
O'Meara said the 2008 season has been a struggle because of personal issues he has going on in his life, hence the reason for this being just his seventh start.
"I've been battling," he said. "So I just, I don't know. I just tried to hang in there the best I could yesterday. I always do that. I never try to give up. So just try to take one shot at a time, do the best I can. Today, I felt like my patience and my attitude was a little bit better today. I tried to stay more I guess you say in the moment. And not get too far ahead of myself, not get too far behind myself."