For many guys, having a sit-down talk with their father-in-law is something to dread.
In Sunday's final round of the PODS Championship, Sean O'Hair found the opposite to be true. Bolstered by words of encouragement from his father-in-law, Steve Lucas, O'Hair took advantage of Stewart Cink's collapse and came through with a two-stroke victory at Palm Harbor, Fla., for his second career PGA Tour title.
O'Hair closed with a 2-under-par 69 at the Westin Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course to finish at 4-under 280 and record his first victory in more than two years. With it came a $954,000 first-place check and invitations to play in the Masters and the World Golf Championship at Doral.
While skipping the previous week's Honda Classic, the 25-year-old O'Hair visited Lucas, who is also his caddie, and the two had a little heart-to-heart talk. Winless since the 2005 John Deere Classic and having slipped to No. 75 in the world rankings, O'Hair said he just couldn't seem to break out of his slump.
Then came some words of encouragement from Lucas.
"We talked about a lot of stuff - just how he believed in me, how he felt like I was on the right track and that if I just start believing in myself, everything would happen," O'Hair told reporters. "He was right. I didn't believe him, but I guess he was right."
What was particularly frustrating for O'Hair was that his lack of success wasn't due to a lack of hard work. He'd spend eight-plus hours a day at the golf course, playing and hitting balls. None of it seemed to help.
"You're coming home and it's dark, and you are missing cuts," O'Hair said. "You just sit there and say, ‘What in the world am I doing? I might as well not even be practicing.'"
It appeared to pay off Sunday as O'Hair birdied the first hole and then overcame a bogey on the sixth hole with a birdie at No. 7. He added birdies at Nos. 11 and 15 before giving one back with a bogey on the 18th.
By earning 4,500 FedEx Cup points, O'Hair climbed from No. 162 to No. 13 in the points standings with 4,681 points. It was also the most lucrative win of his career, surpassing the $720,000 he earned in winning the 2005 John Deere Classic.
"This is not going to hurt my confidence," O'Hair said. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."
Cink, John Senden, Ryuji Imada, Troy Matteson, George McNeill and Billy Mayfair all tied for second at 2-under 282. Rod Pampling and Brandt Snedeker ended tied for eighth on a Copperhead Course that played as the most difficult course of any PGA Tour venue this year.
Cink, who opened his round with back-to-back birdies to reach 7 under par and lead by four shots, holed a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to get back into a tie for second. His lead evaporated after bogeys on holes 3, 8, 13 and 14 followed by a double bogey at No. 16.
It marked the ninth time in 10 tries that Cink failed to win a PGA Tour event when he had at least a share of the lead heading into the final round.
"You don't have room to be that way when you've got the best players in the world lined up behind you ready to pounce on my mistakes," Cink said in his post-round press conference after his 3-over 74. "It all just sort of disappeared so quickly. I'm a little bit shell-shocked and a little bit angry all at the same time."
Meanwhile, O'Hair, who is perhaps best known for his estranged relationship with his father, shed tears of joy.
"When I won (the first time), it just kind of happened," O'Hair said, trying to maintain his composure. "I didn't really appreciate it. I thought I was good enough to do this every year, but it's been such a struggle to get to this point again.
"This is awesome and I'm going to enjoy it."
March 10, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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