A reason for Mark O'Meara to feel left off


A reason for Mark O'Meara to feel left off

One month, the debate was Fred Couples getting elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame by the slimmest of margins. The next month, conversation shifted to whom the PGA of America would consider as the next Ryder Cup captain.

Both topics were a reminder to Mark O'Meara that despite 24 wins around the world, two major championships, five Ryder Cup teams and trophies collected from five continents, it's easy to feel left out.

``Hey, things are good in my life,'' O'Meara said Tuesday from River Oaks Country Club in Houston, where he occasionally puts the claret jug and trophies from the Masters and U.S. Amateur on display for members. ``My health is good. My family is great. I'm blessed to have played this game for a long time, and I'm still playing. If someday they want to call me, that's great.''

A phone call from whom? And about what?

Any chance to be Ryder Cup captain has come and gone. O'Meara qualified for five teams from 1985 to 1999 and seemed to be a logical choice, especially after Payne Stewart's death, to be captain in 2006 when the matches went to Ireland. He met with PGA officials at Kiawah Island in 2004 to let them know how much he was interested. The PGA of America instead chose Tom Lehman, who played on three Ryder Cup teams and had five career PGA Tour titles, including a British Open.

``To be honest, I was a little disappointed I didn't even get considered,'' O'Meara said.

He suspects he was painted as a culprit in the pay-for-play argument that was such a big part of the conversation going into the 1999 Ryder Cup.

O'Meara still believes he was unfairly labeled. Besides, he wasn't alone in taking up the cause. Tiger Woods and David Duval, at the time Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, also were outspoken about the enormous amount of money the PGA of America generates from the Ryder Cup - said to be upward of $60 million this year - by showcasing players from another organization (PGA Tour). It's different in Europe because money from the Ryder Cup is divided three ways, with 60 percent going to the European Tour.

What resulted from that debate was the PGA of America agreeing to donate $200,000 to charity through each player and the captain, a total of $2.6 million. From the 2010 Ryder Cup, $50,000 was earmarked for a PGA of America program at the player's college and $50,000 for something called the Junior Ryder Cup Academy.

``I do these corporate outings, and they ask me when I'm going to be the next captain,'' O'Meara said. ``I don't know how many times I've been asked that. I just tell them, `That ain't going to happen.' My time has passed. There are other individuals who deserve it a lot more. Larry Nelson comes to mind. If the PGA of America has any heart, take him. The guy has had a hell of a career, a great Ryder Cup and he's a fine man.''

If not the Ryder Cup, perhaps O'Meara could be a Presidents Cup captain.

Or not.

Couples was appointed U.S. captain for 2009 at Harding Park, a five-point win for the Americans. A short time later, O'Meara said he called PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem about being the next Presidents Cup captain at Royal Melbourne.

``I said, `Listen, Tim, I don't know where you stand or who the selection committee is, but I'd love to do it,''' O'Meara said. ``It was in Australia. I had won the Australian Masters. It was perfect timing for me. But he never called me back.''

Couples and Greg Norman were chosen to repeat as captains in 2011 (another American romp), and Couples was selected to return as captain for a third straight time next year at Muirfield Village.

Funny that Couples is always where O'Meara wants to be, the latest blow coming last month when he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

O'Meara has been around this game long enough to understand that nobody is ever owed anything, and he certainly doesn't begrudge Couples. They grew up playing together, even stayed with each other at Q-school in 1980. And oddly enough, they were in the final pairing in the 1998 Masters, when O'Meara finished birdie-birdie to beat Couples and Duval by one shot.

He won the British Open at Royal Birkdale that summer, making him, at 41, the oldest player to win two majors in one season. That fall, he capped off an amazing year by beating Woods in the World Match Play Championship. O'Meara got the better of Woods again six years later when he won the Dubai Desert Classic.

Even so, his credentials were thought to be borderline for the Hall of Fame, a notch below the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins. What figured to help O'Meara is that the standard inevitably would be lower as golf became deeper with talent, making it tougher to win. And that's the direction it's going.

But it was no less surprising that Couples, with 15 tour wins and one major, would get voted in ahead of two players from the same era who had stronger records.

Couples received 51 percent of the vote, the lowest ever on the PGA Tour ballot. Love tied for second (38 percent), even though he has 20 wins and a major. Ken Venturi, who also had 38 percent of the vote, recently was selected through Lifetime Achievement. O'Meara, with 16 wins and two majors, was fourth at 36 percent.

The news was tough to take.

``I flipped on the TV and I saw Fred,'' O'Meara recalled. ``The last time I had seen Fred, he hit a drive off the first tee in Seattle and couldn't play because of a bad back. He's on a chair at what looked like Riviera. I turn it up and I hear him talk about getting a phone call from the commissioner and the Hall of Fame. It was disappointing. No disrespect at all to Fred Couples, who has had a lovely career. I understand that he won two TPCs, the Masters. But I won more PGA Tour events, more majors. I won a U.S. Amateur. I mention this to Bernhard Langer and he said, `You're going to get in.' Is it when I stop playing? When I'm 6 feet under. When there's no one left to put in?''

About all O'Meara can do is wait for the next election and hope his record is not overlooked again.

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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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