Balky back could sideline O’Hair
AP Sports Writer
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. (AP) – Sean O’Hair’s balky back might spoil his homecoming.
O’Hair was bothered by a sore back Thursday in the opening round of the AT&T National after he hurt it last week while working out.
O’Hair said he was “a little surprised” he was able to play after shooting a 1-over 71 and planned to skip practice for rest and treatment for Friday.
O’Hair said his trainer told him the injury could be a bulging disc. He also complained of tight hamstrings.
He makes his home in the Philadelphia area and recently joined Aronimink Golf Club. He withdrew from the pro-am Wednesday because of the injury.
“It’d be nice to play really well in front of everybody, but at the end of the week, it’s just another golf tournament,” O’Hair said. “I’d love to play well at this golf course, but I can’t control my back.”
The AT&T National is the start of four straight tournaments for O’Hair, a decision he’s second-guessing because of his back. He wants to tough it out for the home crowd and for his club – yet stay healthy for the British Open.
“It’s in the best condition I’ve seen year,” he said. “Being in front of the home crowd and sleeping in your own bed, it’s fun.”
His score shows there was no home-course advantage. O’Hair said he wasn’t a regular at Aronimink and downplayed any connection that a familiar course should boost his score.
“I think the only thing you can do in a negative way is just put too much pressure on yourself, and I don’t think I’ve done that,” O’Hair said. “I’m not feeling great, so my expectations have come down quite a bit.”
FURYK RETURNS: Sean O’Hair isn’t the only player in the field with local roots. Jim Furyk heard plenty of fans wishing him luck, rooting him on and yelling, “Welcome home!” when he hit the first tee.
Furyk, who won the U.S. Open in 2003, was born in the nearby Philly suburb of West Chester and he was raised in Lancaster. For years, he hosted the one-day Exelon Invitational at various stops throughout the state. His event was the only professional golf that the Philadelphia area had on a yearly basis.
“A lot of people were out there cheering for me even at 8:26 on a Thursday morning, which is surprising,” he said.
Furyk is well-versed in the area’s place in golf lore.
“I grew up playing golf in this area and it’s like coming back to your roots,” he said. “It’s an area where I’m really comfortable with a lot of the golf courses here. It’s fun to have people pulling and rooting on your side. I haven’t had an opportunity to play that many tour events in the Pennsylvania area.”
Furyk should be back here next year when the AT&T National returns for a second season. The U.S Open will be held in 2013 at Merion Golf Club.
SPEED IT UP: Joe Ogilvie was one of four players tied atop the leaderboard at Aronimink Golf Club. He took nearly as much pride in the time it took him to post a 4-under 66 – just a shade over four hours.
Ogilvie, who played with Jeff Maggert and Bill Lunde, can be one of the tour’s fastest players. He said the trio could have finished in less than four hours had it not been for a wait on the 17th hole and a ruling on the 18th.
“You’d be kicked out of Aronimink if you played in 4 hours and 15 minutes in foursomes, so you ought to be able to do it in threesomes,” he said.
Ogilvie’s dream pairings, however, wouldn’t be with player as swift with the club and decision making as he is each hole.
“I’m not used to playing with players as fast as I am, so I would tend to get in their way,” he said. “I’m used to waiting on guys to hit and I’m used to also saying, ‘God, how long does it take to lay it up?’ So it would give me less material if I played with really fast players all the time.
“It’s good to have some material.”
TIGER’S ROAR: Boo, who?
Not Tiger Woods.
The Philadelphia crowd muffled their infamous chorus of boos for cheers and applause at each sighting of Woods. If his sordid tales of infidelity turned off the crowd, it didn’t show in their “Go, Tiger!” screams at every hole.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t give them a whole lot to cheer about today,” Woods said.
Woods, the defending champion, shot a shot 73.
Woods teamed with rocker Jon Bon Jovi, a former co-owner of the Arena Football League Philadelphia Soul, for a fundraiser for their respective foundations on Wednesday night. The event raised more than $570,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. Bon Jovi played an acoustic set of some of his greatest hits.
“It was neat to see him play acoustically,” Woods said.
Joe Ogilvie heard a more typical Philly reaction when he played with former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski in Wednesday’s pro-am.
“Our galleries were a little boisterous,” he said.
CADDIE TALK: Nick Watney has a different caddie, although he should look very familiar.
Watney, who had been with Tim Goodell, began working this week with Chad Reynolds, who had been on the bag for Vijay Singh the last few years until leaving the big Fijian. Singh is using David Clark.
Brett Quigley, meanwhile, changes caddies frequently, and he also had a familiar face on the bag at Aronimink – just not in golf circles. His good friend Adam Oates, the former NHL star. Oates is working his fifth tournament with Quigley, who opened with a 67, and he arrived his this week after taking the job as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils.
Oates is the second NHL player to caddie on the PGA Tour this year. Dan Quinn is a part-time caddie for Ernie Els.