Washington Football

A reason for Mark O'Meara to feel left off

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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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This Washington Red Wolves design would be an easy transition from Washington Football Team

This Washington Red Wolves design would be an easy transition from Washington Football Team

There's no shortage of Washington Red Wolves concepts out there, and considering it's the overwhelming fan favorite for the Washington Football Team's next name, are we really surprised?

The common theme of some of these Red Wolves designs is that they aren't exactly practical. Yeah, they're really cool, but are they something an NFL franchise would adopt, or is it something you'd only use in Madden? 

One of the latest Red Wolves concepts doesn't fall under that umbrella, and it might be most realistic option we've seen, especially when you consider the team's rebranding to Washington Football team. 

This design combines the wolf with the "W" in the logo, and while it's not exactly the team's new "W" logo, it could be easily modified. Then the uniforms don't veer too far away from what the team already has. 

"The logo also features two stripes going across the top of the letter, which symbolizes the two stripes on the D.C. flag," designer Matthew Harvey said. "The logo is to embrace the name of the red wolf as a fierce animal, as well as pay tribute in the style to the "Red Wolves" military helicopters. The logo, I feel, captures the feeling of both military and animal in this design.

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There appears to be a disconnect between Red Wolves fans and the field when it comes to the team's new name. Red Wolves hysteria has grown so big they reject every option that isn't their own, while those not in favor of it fear it's a bit too unorthodox. 

This design may be able to bring those two sides together, and while the fans won't have the final say in the team's permanent name, a united fanbase would be harder to ignore. 

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Bradley Beal knows how much returning to NBA games will mean to John Wall

Bradley Beal knows how much returning to NBA games will mean to John Wall

The NBA currently has plans to open its 2020-21 regular season in December. If that holds true, John Wall will take the floor for the first time in nearly two full years.

He had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles in February 2019, but had been out since the previous December due to bone spurs. Two years is a long time to sit out, especially when it coincides with what should be a player's prime.

Bradley Beal, meanwhile, has continued to lead the Wizards in Wall's absence. And now that his 2019-20 season has been shut down, he too is looking towards next year and he can't wait to reunite with his partner in the backcourt.

"Oh man, I'm beyond excited. I'm not going to lie," Beal said Sundy afternoon on NBC Sports Washington.

But beyond his own anticipation, Beal has grown close enough to Wall over the years to understand how much returning to the court will mean to him. Wall has not only been out of the game for a while, much has changed during that time. He has spoken sentimentally about what his first game will mean to him.

It will be the first game since his mother's death due to cancer. And it will be the first time he will play in front of his son.

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Wall has lived a tumultous life. Beal knows full well what the game of basketball has meant to him throughout all of it.

"I'm more happy for him than anything because he gets to get back on the floor. He hasn't been on the floor in a long time," Beal said. "For him to be able to get his place of peace, his muse back and his love and joy back, I think that will be great. I'm definitely looking forward to just us together."

When Wall does play again, there will be plenty of focus on how he looks when he returns after so much time off and after a very serious injury. There have been encouraging reports and video footage of him playing in practice situations, but the true test will be in an NBA game situation.

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In that time, Beal's game has transformed significantly. He has blossomed into a two-time All-Star who now counts an expanded repertoire of play-making skills. He was forced to add elements to his game with Wall out of the mix.

Though they have played seven NBA seasons together, there is some intrigue and mystery about how they will look when they reunite. Both should be different players and people than they were when they last shared the court.

The Wizards' roster has also been overhauled around them. They have young players on the rise like Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant.

"With where I've taken my game to him being a five-time All-Star, we can really grow our team and our young stars that we have in the making," Beal said. "I'm excited and I know the fans are too. It can't come any faster."

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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