1997 Buick Invitational - Final Notes

O'Meara Wins The Buick Invitational !!!

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Photos by Bill Knight

Mark O'Meara drew on his patience and maturity to win the Buick Invitational by two shots over seven other players. O'Meara shot a 71 today, which gave him a 275 total (13 under par) and the $270,000 first prize. This is his second tournament win of the season and his 14th PGA TOUR victory. His total earnings for the 1997 season are $710,460. He becomes the fifth player to earn more than $8 million on the PGA TOUR (Norman, Kite, Couples and Pavin). He also becomes the TOUR fourth all-time money-winner with $8,092,675. Furthermore, he earns 150 Ryder Cup points, which makes him the leader on that list.

"It was a hard fought win", said O'Meara. "Lots of players made a move to then fall back. I knew the last one to make a move would win" ... "On a day in which my game was at C+, I was able to remain patient and capitalize on the opportunities I had". His eagle on the par-5 13th hole (driver, 4-wood, 25-footer) was his move, and when he fell back with a 3-putt bogey on 16th, the other players in contention also fell back, and he responded with a birdie on 17th. He remained patient through the tough stretch of opening holes (3-putted the 2nd and 4th) and came back from a front-nine 38 with a back-nine 33. He also bogeyed the 7th hole, but 2-putted from the back fringe on the 6th for a birdie and also birdied the 10th. In the meantime, Stadler, Janzen, Parnevik and Hulbert couldn't make it happen. "There were some tough pin placements out there", said Craig Stadler, "which didn't give much room for error". He sandwiched a birdie on 17th with a bogey on 16th and another one on 18th. "It's tough to work hard all week and see everything disappear on the last hole", he said. Parnevik bogeyed 17th after a bad drive, and failed to birdie 18th. Janzen had a putt for eagle on 18th (25-feet) to get into a playoff, but he 3-putted instead. Hulbert hit his second shot in the water on 18th, and came up with a par and also two shots back. Waldorf birdied 3 of the last four, but it wasn't enough. Hammond birdied the last two and also finished two back. Ogrin shot 69, just like Waldorf and Hammond, which was the lowest round of the day (with 6 other players) and also finished two back. Jay Don Blake, the leader by two after three round shot a 77 for a tie for 11th.

The weather was perfect again today, as it was throughout the week. The sea breeze had no practical effect on play. The difference today was the pins placement. They were well tucked in the corners and players on the wrong part of the green had long first putts. Torrey South played today to a 73.346 average and only 9 players broke 70. It played to a 72.814 average throughout the week. The toughest holes were the 7th, 4th, and 12th, and the easiest were the four par-5 holes, 13th, 9th, 18th, and 6th. There were 29 eagles on the South course through the week.

Mark O'Meara will take the next couple of weeks off, skipping Hawaii and Tucson, an will return to play the Nissan Open in Los Angeles, the last leg of the West Coast Swing of the 1997 PGA TOUR season.

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  • Shot of the Day: Hole-in-one on the par-3 8th hole (170 yards), by Kelly Gibson (7-iron).

  • It Pays To Know The Rules: O'Meara's second shot (driver) to the green on the par-5 6th hole ended up in the back of the green, just inches into the rough and just short of a sprinkler head. By taking relief from the obstruction, O'Meara was able to drop on the fringe and have a putt for an eagle (35-footer, lipped out but made a 4-footer for birdie).

  • Place To Eat: The restaurant trailer that belongs to the Professional Tour Caddies Association. Jim is the driver, and Joannie prepares all the meals, including special requests. It's been around for 12 years. It serves caddies in about 26 tournaments per season. Great meals at great prices. Caddies members of the PTCA get a 25% discount. It shows up on Tuesday before the tournament, and is usually located near the "Centinela" gymnasium. So, if you see an "International" truck with North Carolina license plates, and with a satellite dish on the roof, go right in. Food and service are first rate.

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