- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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?qual-i-fy v--1. to complete the preliminary part of a competition successfully and earn the right to go on to the next stage
?Brit-ish O-pen qual-i-fy-ing n--1. the process by which golfers gain admittance to the world's oldest golf championship; 2. a quixotic quest; 3. the means by which two golfers of widely disparate ages and circumstances wind up on the leader board at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, on the same day in July
?Brad Fax-on n--1. American golfer, b Aug. 1, 1961. Winner of seven PGA Tour titles and member of two Ryder Cup teams. Qualified for 2005 British Open by shooting 133 in a two-round competition at Lundin Links in Fife, Scotland
?Sean O'-Hair n--1. American golfer, b July 11, 1982. Qualified for 2005 British Open by winning his first Tour event, the John Deere Classic, the previous Sunday
?the pre-vi-ous Sun-day n--O.K., sorry, I know this is hard to read. But I got so excited covering my favorite tournament, the British Open, that I've been preparing material about it for Wikipedia.org, you know, that website where anybody can contribute to an encyclopedia entry. Of course, everyone in the pressroom thinks I'm nuts.
But, hey, people thought Brad Faxon was crazy when he flew to Scotland last week to enter that qualifier at Lundin Links. It'll be expensive and a waste of money, they told him. You'll be competing against 95 players for only three spots. And let's face it, Faxon, at 43, was having a bad year--71st on the money list and 82nd in the World Ranking. But Faxon is one of those guys who knows that you can't win the British Open unless you're in the British Open. "I didn't do it to impress anybody," he told a bunch of British writers, but they were impressed anyway. (One scribe wrote, "While many treat their sport as a job, Faxon's [sport] remains in his heart and soul.") They were even more impressed last Friday when Brad humbled the Old Course with a second-round 66.
?hum-ble v--1. to cause to be meek or modest in spirit
Now Sean O'Hair is a totally different story. The Sunday before the Open he was knocking it around the TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., simply trying to make an honest buck. Then something totally unexpected happened: The kid won the tournament. And since the highest finisher not already exempt at the Deere gets a free pass to the British Open, everyone expected O'Hair to look in the camera and say, "St. Andrews, here I come!" Instead he said, "I want to go. I want to go more than anything. Will I go? I'm not sure yet."
The problem was, O'Hair, who turned 23 the day after his win, said he didn't have a passport. Or more precisely, he might have a passport--he visited St. Andrews when he was 15 and played the Old Course on a rainy day--only he would have left it with his father, Marc, with whom he is famously estranged. (Marc claims to have a valid contract guaranteeing him 10% of whatever Sean earns in golf.) In any event, the John Deere people moved heaven and the White House, and by Tuesday evening Sean had a new passport, had kissed his wife, Jaclyn, and infant daughter, Molly, goodbye and was safely buckled in on a flight from Newark to Edinburgh. The next afternoon the jet-lagged Tour rookie played a practice round at the Old Course, mapping out strategy with his father-in-law and caddie, Steve Lucas. Asked for his impression of Scotland, O'Hair said, "Cokes and Sprite taste different."