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O'Meara sets Masters menu

KA LUA, Ha. -- This year's Masters champions' dinner is likely to have a Mexican and Japanese influence.

The reigning champion always selects the menu and Mark O'Meara is leaning towards fajitas and sushi.

"I'm leaning towards chicken and steak fajitas for the main course," said O'Meara, who grew up in southern California, not far from the Mexican border.

"That's one of my favourite meals and I don't think it's ever been on the menu before. I think most of the guys who are past champions would go for that. I want to do something a little different.

"Sushi is also a very strong possibility, a little tuna sashimi starter. I can see the guys like Sam (Snead) and Bob Goalby really going for that.

"I haven't finalised it for sure but I'm going in that direction. It'll be a step up from last year (when Tiger Woods ordered cheeseburgers)."

He's coming off a remarkable year in which he won two majors, The Masters and the British Open. O'Meara was seventh on the Tour money list with $1,786,699, posting seven top-seven finishes, including a fourth-place tie at the PGA Championship. He won the World Match Play Championship in England, beating Woods in the final.

O'Meara, speaking on the eve of the season-opening Mercedes Championships, also revealed he would play in the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic from Feb. 11-14.

"It's a done deal," he said, even though he has not signed the contract.

The only thing that would keep him away, he added, was "a full scale military assault (on Iraq). If it got really bad I might not go."

He plans to continue his heavy international schedule this year, making several trips to Europe and one or two to Japan.

O'Meara estimates he's flown 300,000 miles since the beginning of last year. Besides the USA, Africa, Japan, Australia and Europe. "It's a global game," he says. "I'm a global kind of a guy." He says he's slept only seven or eight nights in his own bed in the last two months.

"Maybe it's time I got my own plane, but I can't afford it. At least I've got TWA, Tiger Woods Airways."

"I don't get any (mileage) points, but the service is pretty good."

O'Meara also discussed more serious topics, among them the three new World Golf Championships, each with $5 million purses.

There is concern in some quarters that they will adversely affect regular PGA Tour events played at or about the same time. O'Meara says "Let's play it for a year and see what happens."

"It's a nice problem to have. I don't see the players going on strike any time soon."

"What happened to me last year was a big bonus," he says.

"My whole game plan is to set my sights on the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. "If I could win those two in the next couple years, I'd hang it up," he says jokingly.

Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus are the only players to win all four major championships.

O'Meara plans to play in next week's Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Because he competed in the Presidents Cup last month in Australia, he hasn't had an offseason, other than skiing for a couple of weeks in Utah.

"It kind of feels like a continuation of 1998," O'Meara says. "Golf is more of a 12-month sport now. But I don't feel very tired. Hopefully, I'll continue to play well."

TW 7/1/99