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The Loop

Before Mark O'Meara enters the Hall of Fame, he makes strong showing at the Masters

April 10, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Less than a week ago, Mark O'Meara told "Scotland on Sunday" he would continue to play in the Masters "as long as I still feel like I can make the cut. Once I can't do that any more I'll call it quits. If I'm out there just to play two rounds then wave bye-bye, there is no point in even playing."

Well, the only waving the former Masters and Open champion will be doing over this coming weekend is to the galleries at Augusta National. Adding a second-round 68 to his opening 73, the 58-year old Houston resident is three-under par for the tournament and -- the rampant Jordan Spieth aside -- far from out of place amidst the world's finest.

"I've been hitting the ball well pretty much all year," said O'Meara after his five-birdie, one-bogey second round, what was his first sub-70 score in The Masters since 2001. "I played practice rounds Monday and Tuesday with Tiger (who trails his close friend by one shot) and even he commented on my form. He told me I am a better driver now than I've ever been."

That aspect of the game has clearly been a huge part of O'Meara -- who will enter the World Golf Hall of Fame this coming July -- making his first Masters cut since 2005. But he will surely have called on the more familiar elements of his game -- strategy and putting -- that carried him to 16 PGA Tour victories and wins all over the world. Unusually for an American, he has finished first at events held in England, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Dubai and France.

Given his comments to SOS last week, O'Meara will also be happy to see the hardly outrageously long Jordan Spieth scoring so well on a course that now plays close to 7,500-yards.

"I understand how distance is such an issue in the game," he said. "So to combat the length young guys hit their drives, Augusta National had to be lengthened. But I'm not so sure that was the only thing they could have done. A bit of the strategic element has been lost: When to be aggressive; when to play safe; where to put your ball on the greens -- that sort of stuff. You should be able to win with your short game and putting as well as your driving."

Or, even when you are but 21 months removed from your 60th birthday, at least show those young whipper-snappers a thing or two.