Masters field sprinkled with NC talent
Posted April 7
Raleigh, N.C. — Mark O’Meara won the Masters in 1998 after leaving the tournament empty handed 14 times. That same year Tim Clark, a South Africa native who played collegiately at NC State turned pro and Kevin Streelman was in his first year at Duke. The trio is part of a handful of golfers with ties to the area making the trip to Augusta this weekend.
The 57-year-old O’Meara, a native of Goldsboro who now makes his home in Houston, is having a phenomenal year on the Champions Tour this year with two top-10s and a scoring average of 69. This will be his 30th Masters appearance, although he has not made the cut at the event since 2005.
Clark, the ACC Player of the Year back in 1997, will be making his 13th Masters appearance this year – his first came in 1998. He has made the cut just six times, finishing 13th or better four times including second in 2006.
Streelman has never made the cut at Augusta, missing in his only two tries in 2011 and 2013. The former Blue Devil has had a bit of a career surge in the last two years, however, notching his first PGA Tour win at Tampa Bay in 2013. Streelman has made eight of nine cuts in 2014 and notched a top 10 to slide all the way up to No. 46 in the world.
A pair of Wake Forest graduates will also be making repeat visits to the Masters this year. Bill Haas and Webb Simpson, neither of whom were born when O’Meara turned pro in 1980, will be making their fourth and third appearances, respectively.
Haas, who is currently ranked No. 31 in the world, finished tied for 20th in 2013 – his best result. The Charlotte native who resides in Greenville, S.C., has never missed the cut at the Masters.
A Raleigh native and Broughton High School graduate, Simpson missed last year’s cut at the event after finishing tied for 44th in his Masters debut in 2012. Simpson enters the weekend 25th in the world and ninth in the FedEx Cup standings.
Tee times and pairings for the Masters will be released Tuesday.
A total of 97 players qualified for this year’s Masters when all the stratification processes were applied. A chip-in on the first playoff hole Sunday gave Matt Jones the final spot in dramatic fashion.
Raleigh native Chesson Hadley had no such fortune, missing out on qualifying for Augusta in an otherwise impressive rookie campaign on the PGA Tour.
While the top 50 in the world golf rankings at the end of March are guaranteed a spot, Hadley’s fourth-round struggles at his last two events have kept him on the outside looking in at No. 57.
At the Valero Open, Hadley entered the final round two shots out of sixth. A seventh-place finish would have secured his ticket to the Masters. Hadley proceeded to shoot an 80 and fall to 56th in the event and 57th in the world. He followed with a Tweet that simply said, “Oops!”
The week before, Hadley had a chance to take the pressure off as he was in second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational late in the third round. He entered the final day fifth, but by the time Sunday was over, he had fallen to 26th in the event.
Hadley also got the short end of the Masters qualifying requirements as he was a Tour winner this year in Puerto Rico, but the event was not a full points tournament and thus not a qualifier.
The only player in this weekend’s field who got in on world golf ranking alone, without any other qualifiers, was Stephen Gallacher (No. 38).
Third and Fourth round coverage of the Masters can be seen on WRAL-TV.