SAN DIEGO — Two and a half weeks ago, Escondido's Mark O'Meara lofted a 93-yard third shot with his sand wedge that ended 10 feet above the 72nd hole, made the putt for a birdie and won the $180,000 first prize at the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.
Tuesday afternoon at Torrey Pines, O'Meara lofted an 88-yard third shot with his sand wedge that ended 10 feet below the last hole, made the putt for a birdie and won $3,000 and first place in the 10-man Shearson Lehman Hutton Shootout on the South Course.
"I was actually just as nervous over this one as I was at Pebble Beach," O'Meara said afterward.
Sure you were, Mark. And Mac O'Grady rooms on the road with PGA Commissioner Deane Beman.
The colorful O'Grady was one of nine other touring pros that O'Meara outlasted in the popular nine-hole shootout format, which eliminates one player on each hole until two remain with a hole to play.
Long-hitting Joey Sindelar parred the last hole to finish second. Mark Wiebe, raised in Escondido, finished third. The shootout serves as a warmup of sorts for the Shearson Lehman Hutton Open, which begins Thursday on Torrey Lines North and South. The final 36 holes, scheduled for the weekend, will be played on the tougher South course.
O'Grady, who finished second in last year's shootout at Torrey Pines while playing left-handed, bowed out on the fourth hole with a double bogey after a poor pitch. He played right-handed Tuesday.
Fred Couples birdied three of the first four holes but said bye-bye when he three-putted the par-four fifth. Defending tournament champion Steve Pate lost a chip-off to Jay Haas on the sixth.
O'Meara, 32, is fourth on the tour money list after six events this year with earnings of $194,500.
The long driving competition was a misnomer of sorts. Ten players launched two tee shots apiece on the first hole on the South course. The winner of the event was Bill Sander at 278 yards.
To be sure, that's a long drive. But not by the standards of the PGA tour professionals. Andy Bean, the longest driver on tour in 1985, \o7 averaged \f7 278 yards off the tee that year.
The second-place finisher Tuesday was Davis Love III at 265. Sander won $3,500 for his effort.
The reason for the relatively short drives was a lively breeze blowing into the players' faces and wet ground that kept the balls from rolling more than a few yards.
The winner of the celebrity competition was former Charger tight end Eric Sievers (235 yards). Sievers' winning drive was 27 yards farther than the last-place drive of pro Duffy Waldorf. Waldorf snap-hooked both his attempts.
The glamour pairing for today's pro-am will tee off on No. 1 on the North Course. The group: former President Gerald Ford, entertainer Bob Hope, Charger owner Alex Spanos and businessman Leon Parma. The pro: Craig Stadler. Starting time: 10:40.
But perhaps the most interesting group is the one that will tee off on No. 10 on the South course at 7:45. The pro is Tom Sieckmann. The celebrity is Steve Ortmayer, the Chargers' director of football operations.
But the hero in the group is Glenn Ankton, 40, of Oceanside. Both of Ankton's legs were blown off just above the knee by a land mine in Vietnam in 1968. He plays with prosthetic devices on both legs and regularly shoots in the low 70s.
For a long time, one of his goals has been to play in a pro-am. When people around Oceanside heard about it, they raised the $2,250 it costs to play as an amateur in the event. Maybe next year, tournament officials will invite him back as a celebrity so he can play for free.
Thursday through Sunday, tournament sponsor Shearson Lehman Hutton will present a zero coupon Treasury certificate (worth $10,000 at maturity) to a spectator. The spectator must donate the certificate to a charity. The spectator will also be treated to a free round of golf with a PGA touring pro. Shearson Lehman Hutton will also present a zero coupon certificate (worth $50,000 at maturity) to the low pro Thursday through Friday. In the event of a tie, the coupon value will be carried over to the next day. . . . Other celebrities scheduled to participate in today's pro-am include Dan Fouts, Hal Linden, Wayne Rogers, Claude Akins, John Havlicek, Johnny Bench, Gene Barry and Steve Garvey.