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 Tournament 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.
In the hall of fame voting, Couples received 51 percent of the vote, the lowest ever on the PGA Tour ballot. Davis Love III 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.
“It was disappointing. No disrespect at all to Fred Couples, who has had a lovely career,” O’Meara said. “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?”
PGA GRAND SLAM OF GOLF: In Southampton, Bermuda, Padraig Harrington, a playoff loser the two times he qualified for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, gave himself a chance to win as an alternate.
Harrington, who replaced British Open champion Ernie Els, shot 5-under-par 66 at Port Royal to take a two-shot lead over Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson going into the final round of the 36-hole exhibition for the year’s four major champions.
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson had 69. Keegan Bradley, who replaced PGA champion Rory McIlroy, rounded out the four-man field with 72.