IT'S NO secretthat two of Tiger Woods's best friends in golf are fellow Isleworth residentsMark O'Meara and John Cook, both of whom made their debuts on the Championstour this year (O'Meara on Feb. 18 and Cook on Oct. 12). Two weeks ago O'Mearaled going into the final round of the Administaff Small Business Classic when,he says, he got a late-Saturday-night text message from Woods telling him to"go ahead and win the blankety-blank golf tournament." O'Meara tried,but wound up second to Bernhard Langer. At last week's AT&T Championship inSan Antonio, O'Meara again shared the lead heading into the final round, butthis time no Woods pep talk came across his cellphone. "The gratitude ofthat kid after all I did for him," O'Meara said, joking. Text or not,O'Meara said he would still draw on Woods's friendship as he sought his firstChampions tour win. "I had won plenty of times before I ever met Tiger, butI learned the value of self-belief and drive from him," says O'Meara, whowon his first major title, the 1998 Masters, when he was 41. "He alwaysbelieved in me, even when I didn't believe I could be a major champion." Ofcourse, Woods also believes in a little friendly harassment. "I know hewonders why I haven't won before now, but it's like I tell him, it's not as ifI'm not trying," says O'Meara. He will have to keep trying, since he shot afinal-round 69 to finish second again. Who won? Cook, by closing with asix-under 65, which raised another question: Did he receive a text from tiger?The answer: no.
TIGER WOODS had agreat year, and Lorena Ochoa won seven times, but the unofficial award for bestseason may go to the UNC Charlotte 49ers, who have won three times in threetries this fall and are ranked No. 1. The team was a perennial Division Ialso-ran until four years ago, when coach Jaime Green signed on. A protégé ofDick Gordon, for whom he played at Ohio
Wesleyan, Greenhad been an assistant at North Carolina, Auburn and Dartmouth and brought aphilosophy of success with him. "Every tournament is up in the air forplaying time," he says. "[Our players] have to qualify for everytournament. That motivates guys to play hard and practice." It's working.Since Green arrived, the 49ers have competed in 38 tournaments and have 29 topfives, including 14 victories. That has helped recruiting too; witnesssophomore Corey Nagy, a Charlotte native who passed up several traditionalpowers to play for his hometown team. This week the 49ers will be at theCallaway Match Play in Greensboro, Ga., to go for their fourth straight W, apossibility that stokes Green's inner Vince Lombardi. "Everybody wants towin," he says, "but not everybody has the will to do what it takes. Ido, and I hold my guys accountable for accomplishing it."
TOUGH TIMES forthe Wies. Stanford is requiring Michelle to pay the student rate, $25 perround, to play the school's course and charging her parents a cart fee everytime they tag along.
Follow the Ginnsur Mer Classic at GOLF.com.
Consecutive one-putts by Mike Weir to finish the fry'sopen.
One Shot with Sean O'Hair
One course you'd play over and over
One shot you can't top
The 2006 PGA, five-wood over the water on 13 to aninch
One mulligan you'd like
Sunday tee shot at 17 at this year's Players [downone, he hit into the water]
One PGA Tour perk you can't believe
We get to drive pretty sporty cars
One strong part of your game
One thing you'd change about yourself
One nonmajor you'd most like to win
One thing Tiger has that you'd like
His ability to improve every year
One person you wouldn't be here without
My wife, Jaclyn
One thing to look for during the fall Series
A lot of first-time winners
"Wie's critics must back off, as she'll likelystruggle more." —MY SHOT, PAGE G16
JEON HEON-KYUN/EPA (PETTERSEN)
CROWNING MOMENT Suzann Pettersen donned traditional Korean garb after making the wind-shortened (to 36 holes) Hana Bank Kolon Championship, in Gyeongju, her fourth win of the season.
MIKE EHRMANN (O'HAIR)