July 24, 2011
It's rare that a three-time winner on the PGA Tour surprises you when he gets in contention, but if you look at Sean O'Hair's play over the last 10 months you'd be anything but shocked to see his name on a leaderboard.
But that is the PGA Tour in 2011; anyone with a smidgen of a golf swing and putting stroke can catch fire, take down a talented field and walk away a champion.
O'Hair's win was the fourth of his career, but it showed more about resiliency than anything else. This is a kid (we can still call him a kid, right?) that had been going through swing changes all year, and hadn't had a top-10 finish all season, but on a golf course that played as tough as any all season (twice as many players finished under par at the U.S. Open than it's Canadian equivalent), O'Hair hung around long enough to find himself in a playoff.
And during a week that officials decided to do a Saturday night rough-cut because of the high scores, O'Hair won the event with a bogey in the playoff, edging past Kris Banks and showing that when the putting stroke is working for O'Hair, and the kinks are worked out of that golf swing, things work pretty smooth.
One of my favorite things about golf is that unlike most sports, immediately after that winning putt drops a microphone is in the champion's face, and we get to live in real time what that person is feeling. O'Hair showed that incredibly, as he was literally choked up past spoken words. But as he stood there fighting back the tears, you could see just how much work has gone into this win, and even when you have all the money in the world competitors love to walk away a winner.
O'Hair is one of the good guys, and an American player that, a year ago, was on a short list of possible major champions out of this country. Now it seems he's back, and he did it on a golf course that would have made for a dramatic major. Luckily he gets a shot at one on a similar track in just a few short weeks.