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Golf taking a back seat for Mark O'Meara

These days, Mark O'Meara would rather be fly fishing.

"I enjoy my time away from the game," said O'Meara, the 1998 Masters and British Open champion who is at Whistling Straits for the U.S. Senior Open that begins Thursday. "I owe everything to the game of golf, but there are times where the passion is not quite the same as it once was."

The 50-year-old O'Meara had no complaints when the U.S. Open began last month at Oakmont without him. He failed to qualify.

"I was in the river fly fishing pretty much every day," O'Meara said. "On Sunday, I had a great afternoon. The river was on fire, catching fish left and right."

He didn't hear Angel Cabrera had won until he got a call from overseas. Even then, it was no big deal.

"The problem I have is whenever the fly fishing is great somewhere in the world, I base (my golf) around the fishing schedule," he said. "When the fishing is good, it's hard to play. That's what I worked for: To make the money to where I can back off and do things I love to do."

Staying in hotels in far off locales where golf tournaments are held no longer has the appeal it used to.

"I would rather be in the river somewhere where I know the hatch is going off and the fishing is phenomenal than in a hotel somewhere playing any event, Champions Tour or regular Tour, and thinking, 'Why am I not doing that right now?"' he said.

O'Meara had just spotted a moose while rowing in the Snake River with his son when he realized his 27-year professional career had given him perspective for his struggle to stay competitive on golf's highest stage.

"It's not that I don't love playing golf, but I wouldn't say I'm quite as passionate as I was when I started with my Volkswagen Rabbit and my wife and no money," he said. "I think life is all about understanding what is important to you, and some guys that have played really well didn't quite have the same career I had on the regular tour."

O'Meara said he'll re-evaluate how long he wants to continue playing after three years of playing about 60 percent of the Champions Tour schedule.

"It's going to be on performance and that's why I say, give myself three years, see how I do. And if after three years, I don't feel comfortable where I'm standing in my game, then it may be time to retire and move on, do something else."

It's easy to guess just what those plans would entail.

"You get in an area in your life where financially, you're somewhat secure, there are other things in life besides playing professional golf," he said. "I have a lot of other hobbies."

 

 




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