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Mark O’Meara won the Cologuard Classic on Sunday, his first victory in nearly nine years.
By John Strege
Mark O’Meara prepared for the Cologuard Classic on a snowmobile in Park City, Utah, and why not? At 62, winning was no longer an option. Realistically, neither was contending.
Yet inexplicably O’Meara turned the clock back, way back, and won the Cologuard by four strokes at Omni Tucson National on Sunday. Willie Wood, Scott McCarron, Kirk Triplett and Darren Clarke tied for second.
It was O’Meara’s first victory since 2010, when he won twice, his only previous PGA Tour Champions wins.
“It’s a dream come true,” O’Meara said, “certainly, the first day, running over the edge of the first hole, and then making eight straight birdies and really playing well the first day. And today I knew it was going to be a lot of pressure. It’s been nine years since I’d won. To play the front nine the way I did, to make five birdies, I’m really happy and very pleased.”
A World Golf Hall of Famer with 16 PGA Tour victories, two major championships and a U.S. Amateur victory, O’Meara apparently had not forgotten how to close. He took a one-shot lead into the final round and took control with a front-nine of five-under-par 31.
O’Meara shot a seven-under-par 66, the same score he posted to open the tournament in a round that included those eight consecutive birdies, tying a senior tour record.
On Saturday, he was asked whether he had entertained any thoughts of winning when he arrived in Tucson on Tuesday. “No,” he said.
“I came into this week knowing that I had had a couple of good days up on the snow riding my snowmobile in Park City. I didn’t hit any balls all last week. But even on Tuesday when I got here and I practiced and played, I felt like I was swinging fairly decent, hitting the ball OK. So I kind of like what I’ve been working on and I think if I make good swings, I can still hit good shots.”
Yet he had not hit many of them in three previous starts this year, when his best finish was a tie for 30th. Then again, the senior tour is trending older this year; the average age of the winners of the four senior events this year is 59.25.
Meanwhile, John Smoltz, another Hall of Famer though in baseball, closed with an even-par 73 and finished 54 holes in one-over par 220 to tie for 53rd. Smoltz was playing on a sponsor exemption and has two more lined up.