“It’s the greatest” – O’Meara pays tribute to The Open as he bows in style
Mark O’Meara waved goodbye to The Open on the course he lifted the Claret Jug nineteen years before.
The 60-year-old American missed the cut despite firing a highly creditable level par 70 in the second round on Friday. Unfortunately it was not enough to make up for the 81 he returned the previous day and O’Meara bid an emotional farewell to The Open.
His round featured three birdies including the 300th of his Open career on the 15th hole. He would have been one of the few players to break par in challenging conditions but for dropping a shot after making the emotional walk up the final fairway.
“Unbelievable,” he said straight after leaving the 18th green and with the applause of the large crowds in the grandstands ringing in his ears. “It’s the best. It’s the greatest championship. It’s the greatest walk so thanks for making it so special.”
“I was fortunate to win the Open Championship in 1998 and now, 19 years later, I feel I’ve had my career,” he said in his subsequent interview on Sky TV. “It’s hard to say goodbye. I’ve got tears in my eyes because I love this championship.
“What makes this championship is not just history, but the love of links golf and the fact that the fans who come here to support the players have so much respect for the past champions. That’s what really thrills me when I come back.”
O’Meara won the Masters Tournament at the age of 41 back in 1998 and then a few months later crossed the Atlantic to claim his second major title after beating Brian Watts in a play-off.
The American made his Open debut back in 1981 at Royal St George’s where he finished tied-47th behind Bill Rogers and he went on to make 30 appearances culminating in this year’s swansong. In addition to winning in 1998 he also claimed two third place finishes in 1985 and 1991.