Q School Phenom
TEEN WITH A DREAM
When 17-year-old Sean O'Hair of Sarasota, Fla., goes to the golf
course, his father, Mark, drives him. When Sean plays, Mark
caddies for him. When Sean needs a club, Mark builds it for him.
So guess who decided that Sean should drop out of the David
Leadbetter Academy, leave the American Junior Golf Association,
turn pro and enter the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament?
That decision looked like a good one last week when Sean, with
Mark on the bag, became the youngest player ever to make it
through the first stage of the three-step Q school, at
Worldwoods Golf Club in Homosassa Springs, Fla., shooting a
five-under 283 on rounds of 71-70-73-69. "We're having a ball,
man," says Mark, 47. "Think about the experience we're getting
out here--what I'm getting. My son is talented enough to make it
on the PGA Tour. It is a privilege to carry his bag."
Given the new demographics of golf, a pro as young as the 6'2",
160-pound O'Hair was bound to come along. By the time Tiger
Woods turned pro at 20, he had won three U.S. Amateur titles.
Sergio Garcia, 19, has two European tour victories. Sean was two
when he first hoisted a club and was soon taking lessons at
Lubbock (Texas) Country Club. He tried other sports and earned a
black belt in karate, but at 10 he committed himself to golf. In
1995 Mark sold his piece of the family business, O'Hair
Shutters, and moved the family to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he
worked on Sean's game full time. The O'Hairs moved to Bradenton,
Fla., in '97, when Sean got a scholarship to the Leadbetter
Academy, a school for gifted junior golfers. They moved to
Sarasota this August.
"I'm putting every cent I have into this," says Mark. "My wife
is our backup." (Brenda O'Hair, who cares for the couple's
10-year-old daughter, K.D., is taking classes at South Florida
and intends to become a physician's assistant.)
Mark's intensity was well known in the junior ranks. He and Sean
got up at 5:30 a.m. to work out. For every stroke Sean shot over
par, he had to run a mile. For every stroke under par, he got
$20. (Sean says these deals have been discontinued.) After
shooting 80 at the Freeport-McDermott Junior Classic in New
Orleans last year, O'Hair had to run eight miles in 93[degree]
heat. "I almost killed him," Mark says. "I believe in the
Gary Gilchrist, director of golf at the academy, says Mark's
constant presence at the school was a problem, and when Mark was
asked to limit his visits to once a week, he pulled Sean out.
(Sean still attends Bradenton Academy, a prep school where he'll
get his high school diploma in May.)
The O'Hairs had similar trouble with the AJGA. Mark, forced to
the sidelines because the tour forbids caddies, followed Sean so
closely that this summer the AJGA sent a letter reminding the
O'Hairs that as stated in the Rules of Golf, Mark could not give
advice during play. The O'Hairs' response: Sean left the tour
and began entering Nike tour qualifiers. In five tries he made
the field three times, finishing 33rd at the Fort Smith (Ark.)
Classic in August. Sean turned pro at the Nike Tri-Cities Open
the following month.
Bill Tryon, whose oldest son, Ty, played alongside Sean on the
junior circuit, says calling Mark a Little League dad is an
oversimplification. "I remember parents ripping Earl and Kultida
[Woods] for what they were doing with Tiger," Tryon says.
"Nobody is complaining today about how Tiger turned out."
Hizzoner the Club Pro
IDAHO INSTRUCTOR RUNS FOR MAYOR
Tad Holloway usually has a full schedule, and he likes it that
way. The Meridian, Idaho, club pro spends his days giving
lessons at Foxtail Executive Golf Course and his evenings doing
the same seven miles away at Cherry Lane Golf Course. When he
isn't teaching, the 34-year-old father of two is playing in
everything from Rocky Mountain PGA Section tournaments to Nike
Lately, however, Holloway's life has become even more hectic.
He's running for mayor of Meridian, a town of 21,000 in the
southwest part of the state, challenging incumbent Robert Corrie
in a race that will go before the voters on Nov. 2. If he wins,
Holloway will be the first PGA of America member to also be a
sitting mayor since Rocky Thompson, who resigned as mayor of
Toco, Texas, in September '98.
It was no surprise when Holloway opened with a 78 at last week's
Western PGA Club Pro Championship at Santa Ana Golf Club in
Albuquerque. He knew he should have been home posting flyers and
pounding the pavement. "He was really distracted," says his
wife, Jennifer. "He was trying to make phone calls so he
wouldn't fall behind."
Holloway rebounded, though, shooting 70-76-70 and surviving an
eight-man playoff to qualify for his fifth National Club Pro in
2000. By then he could be mayor, watching a basketball player run
Elizabeth Janangelo, West Hartford, Conn.
Elizabeth, 15, is the youngest winner of the Connecticut Women's
Golf Association championship. She also won the State Amateur
for the third straight year, becoming the fourth woman to take
both titles in the same season. In August she won the American
Junior Golf Association's Greater Hartford Junior Classic.
Rick Dewitt, Arvada, Colo.
Dewitt, 42, a four handicapper, won his fifth Colorado title of
the year, the Mid-Amateur, with a six-under-par 210 (70-67-73)
at Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock. Dewitt also won
the state's Public Links, Stroke Play, Western Chapter and, with
Michael Glaesel of Arvada, Team titles.
Kristy Finlayson, Vernon, B.C.
Finlayson, a sophomore at Hartford, won her first three college
tournaments this fall, giving her five straight dating back to
last season. Finlayson won her first collegiate start, the
Dartmouth Invitational at Hanover (N.H.) Country Club last fall,
and set the women's course record with a five-under 68.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
What do these players have in common?
--Davis Love III
Each had three victories in 1992, the last year three or more
players had at least three Tour wins. David Duval and Tiger
Woods are the only players to have at least three wins in '99,
but Notah Begay, Carlos Franco, Payne Stewart, David Toms and
Duffy Waldorf have two apiece.
Should European Ryder Cup captain Mark James have played Andrew
Coltart, Jarmo Sandelin and Jean Van de Velde before the Sunday
--Based on 2,089 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Who should be rookie of the year on the PGA Tour,
Begay or Franco? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
The top 15 players on the money list after this week's Nike Tour
Championship in Dothan, Ala., get PGA Tour cards for next season.
But history shows less than half of the class of 1999 will keep
those cards by making the top 125 in 2000. Here's the percentage
of Nike grads who have retained their privileges the following
year on the regular Tour.
CLASS GRADS KEPT CARD
1990 5 3 (60%)
1996 10 5 (50%)
1997 15 7 (47%)
1998* 15 6 (40%)
1991 5 2 (40%)
1992 10 4 (40%)
1994 10 3 (30%)
1995 10 3 (30%)
1993 10 3 (30%)
*Based on latest spot on money list