O'Hair to skip Memorial with neck trouble

Sean O'Hair won't play in this week's Memorial.
Sean O'Hair won't play in this week's Memorial. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: May 31, 2012

WEST CHESTER'S Sean O'Hair, the only PGA Tour player who calls the Philadelphia area home, didn't try to qualify for the British Open. So now the only way he can play in it is by winning a tournament in the next 7 weeks. And he's not playing in this week's Memorial, because of a "tweaked" neck that kept him out of last week's Colonial.

O'Hair, who turns 30 in July, also is not going to try to qualify for the U.S. Open, which starts June 14 at San Francisco's Olympic Club. A year ago, he failed to qualify.

So what gives?

"I'm feeling a lot better," O'Hair said Tuesday, after a visit with his physical therapist. "I just don't feel 100 percent. There's still some tightening there. I felt that with my schedule coming up - I'm playing 4 weeks in a row after the [U.S.] Open - I just figured one more week off wouldn't really hurt."

The Open qualifiers are Monday. One is held in Columbus, Ohio, not far from Muirfield Village, where the Memorial will be played. But O'Hair already had his mind made up, even if he were playing there.

"It's a difficult decision," he said. "I just felt like with where I am, with my game and my career, the last 3 years have been a disappointment. Everyone thinks they know what's best for you. I just feel like right now, I've got to focus on getting back to being better and more consistent in just the regular events.

"I have to look at it like, 'What's the best road for me to take?' And sometimes, it doesn't necessarily mean the results are right around the corner. I have to steady myself a little bit, trust that at the end of the day it's going to help me [going forward].

"There's no reason I shouldn't be in the top 20 [in the world rankings]. Not to be arrogant, but I'm a top-20 player. At least. But I haven't been there for a long time . . . My big goal this year is to play in the Tour Championship [Sept. 20-23]. That would get me into all the majors next year."

O'Hair, who got to No. 12 in 2009, is ranked 48th, 59th on the money list, with one top 10 in 12 starts. That was a tie for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. He tied for 32nd at the Masters, after playing well the first three rounds. It was his 24th major. His best finish has been a tie for seventh at the 2010 British. He's had at least a tie for 12th in each of the other three.

"If you have a game plan and you're smart about it and you're strong mentally, there's a pretty good chance you can be one of the best," O'Hair said. "Look at a guy like Luke Donald. He had lulls there, went through some problems with injuries, but he stuck with it and it really paid off. He's kind of gradually gotten better and better."

Of course, not playing in a major is never easy.

"It's like a 5-year-old going to Disney World with his parents, and they make him sit on the park bench the entire time he's there," O'Hair said. "He has to watch everyone else have all the fun. I can't do it. I'm such a huge competitor. I'm so hissed off, not just at how I'm playing, but at myself for allowing this to happen. I have to put it behind me and move on."

Contact Mike Kern at kernm@phillynews.com.


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