Sean O' Hair is having the success his father demanded, winning the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., yesterday for his first victory in his 18th career start, a day before his 23rd birthday. But he has found a way to win and be happy, a balance that didn't seem possible when he was growing up.
"That's really the main thing why I think I've succeeded so quickly, is that I'm in such a great situation with my family. I'm happy and I've got a great relationship with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, and my wife is my best friend," O'Hair said after shooting a 6-under 65 yesterday. He also earned a spot in this weekend's British Open.
"I had a tough situation when I was a kid. That's the easiest way to put it," added O'Hair, who was pushed relentlessly to golf by his father, with whom he hasn't spoken in more than two years. "It just was not a happy situation, and there was a lot of pressure there. I just think now it's the exact opposite. How can you not succeed?"
Starting the day five strokes back, O'Hair climbed into contention quickly with three birdies on his first nine. He took the lead with a 14-foot putt on No. 14, and his victory looked secure when he blasted out to within two feet for another birdie on 17.
But after being so steady all day, O'Hair made things interesting.
He nearly put his second shot in the water, forcing him to scramble to make par. With his ball on the hazard line, O'Hair took a "baseball swing" with his 8-iron and chipped within 10 feet.
But with Hank Kuehne and J.L. Lewis still two groups behind him at 15 under, O'Hair had to wait. If either made birdie on 18, it was going to a playoff. But Lewis put his second shot in the water, and Kuehne left short a 24-foot birdie putt.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Peter Jacobsen held off Hale Irwin at the Senior Players Championship in Dearborn, Mich., for his second senior's tour major title in less than a year.
After Jacobsen birdied two of the last three holes to finish the day at 6-under 66 and take the lead at 15 under, the 60-year-old Irwin just missed birdie tries on the final two holes to come up a stroke short in his bid for his eighth senior's major victory.
Irwin, trying to tie Jack Nicklaus's record for senior's major victories, came up inches short on a 13-foot birdie try on No. 17. Then, after a great approach on No. 18, the three-time U.S. Open winner narrowly missed a 12-footer.
Five-time British Open champion Tom Watson (68) and Tom McKnight (71) tied for third at 12 under.
* LPGA TOUR: In Sylvania, Ohio, Heather Bowie won her first title, parring the third hole of a playoff with Gloria Park in the Jamie Farr Classic.
Park made things easy for Bowie, hitting a low hook out of the rough and into a creek on the par-5 18th hole. After hitting clutch putts on the first two extra holes to extend the playoff, Park triple-bogeyed the last hole.
Bowie, who earned $180,000 and a three-year LPGA Tour exemption, closed with a 4-under 67 to match Park at 10-under 274.