O'Meara Makes His Mark With a Two-Shot Victory : Golf: His final-round 72 is good enough for a second consecutive victory in Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.


If there is such a thing as a golf course suiting a player, then Mark O'Meara has discovered a second home on the Monterey Peninsula.

O'Meara won the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Sunday as he did last year and in 1985.

It's certainly not the easiest trick in the world considering the elements, wind and rain, over the years, but O'Meara has the knack of winning here.

It was his fourth victory at Pebble Beach counting his title in the State amateur in 1979. And his latest victory was accomplished with relative ease.

With Payne Stewart and Rocco Mediate failing to seriously challenge him, O'Meara bogeyed two of the last three holes and still won by a comfortable two shots over Kenny Perry. He had a par 72 at Pebble Beach for a 72-hole total of 281, seven under par.

He also picked up the winner's check for $180,000 on a sunny day with average wind conditions--not the 40 m.p.h. gusts that tormented the players Saturday.

Playing with his 61-year-old father, Robert, O'Meara said he was relaxed and confident all day.

He had a three-shot lead going to the par-4, 402-yard 16th hole. He bogeyed that hole and the par-3, 209-yard 17th. No matter. He finished with a par on the 548-yard 18th in what was an anti-climactic final round. Last year, for example, O'Meara needed a birdie on No. 18 to beat Tom Kite.

O'Meara became the fourth back-to-back winner at Pebble Beach since the tournament, formerly known as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, moved here from Rancho Santa Fe in 1947. Jack Nicklaus (1972-73), Tom Watson (1977-78) and Cary Middlecoff (1955-56) were the others.

Nicklaus is the only other player to win this event three times (he had his first victory in 1967) and so O'Meara can become the first to win it four times next year.

It was O'Meara's fifth victory on the tour since he went through qualifying school in 1980.

"I was a little nervous on the last hole," said O'Meara, who was reared in Orange County, lives in Escondido, but is planning to move to Orlando, Fla., to make traveling easier for tour events.

"I thought about hitting a one-iron (at the 18th hole) down the right side (away from the ocean). But there was so much wind and the hole was playing so long I had to hit a driver.

"I had gotten that far without copping out too bad. I hit a good tee shot, laid up and two putted for my par."

O'Meara had a one-shot lead over Mediate after 54 holes and Stewart was only two back.

Mediate, who staggered through the closing wind tunnel holes of Cypress Point Saturday with three bogeys, was seeking his first tour victory.

Playing with O'Meara, he faltered, shooting a five-over-par 77 for a 72-hole total of 287.

"I told Rocco, 'You'll be there again,' " O'Meara said. "I tried to be as cordial as could. And when I finished he said to me, 'You made it look so easy.' "

It was easy for Stewart, the second leading money winner on the tour in 1989, for the first nine holes. He made the turn in 33 and was tied with O'Meara.

However, O'Meara took the lead with a birdie at the 11th hole.

Then, Stewart's troubles began. He bogeyed the par-3, 202-yard 12th hole, missing a four foot putt after coming out of a bunker.

O'Meara, playing one hole behind Stewart, also found a bunker, but he got up and down for his par. That was the turning point.

Then, Stewart bogeyed the 14th, 16th and 18 holes for a 73, a 40 on the back nine. He wound up in a tie for third with Kite at 284.

He walked rapidly off the course, pausing only to sign autographs. When asked by reporters if he wanted to talk, Stewart tersely said, "No." And he was gone.

Stewart made the same sort of exit here in 1987. He had a two-shot lead over the field going into the final day, but finished second behind Johnny Miller, who had a 66 in the final round.

O'Meara didn't do anything spectacular to win, but just played par golf on a day when most of the pros were in the 70s.

He said he was aware that he had a comfortable lead as he approached the 16th tee.

"I wanted to be aggressive," O'Meara said, "but how aggressive can you be? I didn't want to do anything stupid."

O'Meara's father accompanyed his son to the interview room and he was justifiably proud. He also played with his son in the 1986 tournament.

"I'm still waiting for my check for that," said Robert O'Meara, who has a 17 handicap.

Mark replied, "Dad, you're an amateur."

At one point in the round, the senior O'Meara tipped his hat after he came out of a bunker.

Mark thought his father was being a bit of a ham.

"If people applaud, I should acknowledge it," said Robert O'Meara.

Then, on a more somber note, O'Meara's father said, "I did get weak in the knees at 16, because I knew Mark had a three-shot lead. This has to be a dream, playing golf with my son."

Robert O'Meara said, though, that he probably won't play here again with his son.

"I'm going out on top," he said, beaming all the way.

Golf Notes

Although Kenny Perry finished second and got a check for $108,000, he didn't threaten Mark O'Meara. Playing two groups ahead of O'Meara, Perry had a 70 with a 36 on the back nine . . . With his victory, O'Meara is now the leading money winner on the tour for the year. He has earned $239,975. He had a third place finish last month in the Tournament of Champions at La Costa . . . David Frost, who finished at 287, had the low round of the day, a five-under par 67 . . . Jack Nicklaus didn't exactly have a blazing finish with a pair of 78s the last two rounds (299).

Even though the Monterey County Board of Supervisors declared Sunday as "Jack Lemmon Day," the actor wasn't on the course as a player to acknowledge it. Alas, he missed the cut for the 27th team in team competition. He and Peter Jacobsen had a net score of 211 and the cut was 203 . . . Hubert Green and his amateur partner, Dean Spanos, won the team title with a net score of 260, 28 under par . . . One more reference to Saturday's howling wind from Rocco Mediate: "If you turned a certain way on the 16th green at Cypress Point, you couldn't breathe."

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