LUTZ — For all the bad breaks — and heartbreak — Mark O'Meara has endured during his four years on the Champions Tour, his rain-induced, runnerup finish at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am tops the list.
O'Meara, who is one of the more accomplished PGA Tour players but winless on the senior circuit, tied Bernhard Langer for the lead Sunday when his 30-foot chip on the first hole bounced off the pin and in for birdie. But after the final round was canceled due to rain, O'Meara (8 under) was one back again and left with his ninth second-place finish in 57 events.
"I'm just thinking the man upstairs is testing me a little bit," said O'Meara, who was disappointed but took it in stride.
"It's disappointing to finish second again, but I've just got to keep putting myself in those positions, knocking on the door, sooner or later it's going to be my day," he said. "It's tough because a lot of my peers and everybody is pulling for me. … That's about as much pressure as anything, just everybody wanting it so bad for you as well as I want it for myself."
O'Meara, a two-time major champion with 16 PGA Tour victories, did leave TPC Tampa Bay encouraged that he played better than he had, including improving his putting (partly thanks to some tips from good friend Tiger Woods at the Masters). And while he has won (and lost) tournaments in playoffs, he said he has never experienced anything like Sunday.
"There's reasons for everything," O'Meara said. "Maybe this is another little feather in my cap. Hey, handle this the right way and you know what, maybe I go on to win three tournaments coming up in the next seven weeks. You just never know what it holds."
TOUGH CALL: Assistant tournament director Gene Smith said rain-shortened tournaments happen about once a year, and this one might have been salvaged had it not been for 4 inches of rain the course got two weeks ago. That and the three-quarter inches it took Sunday made for a lot of standing water on the course that would have — even with the lift, clean and place policy — compromised the competition.
"The golf course was unplayable," tournament director Amy Hawk said. "We didn't have a choice."
Hawk said the cancellation was disappointing, not just because of how the leaderboard set up, but how the community had supported the event; she said tour officials were expecting Sunday to set a Champions Tour record (for tournaments other than majors) for attendance over the week (which she said would have been well over 100,000). A lot of fans still came out and waited during the delay.
"I was amazed this morning when I went out there and they were still coming off the buses," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, man, these are dedicated golf fans right here.' "
MISCELLANY: Langer and amateur partner Rolf Klam combined for 20 under to win the pro-am portion of the tournament by one stroke over the tandem of Peter Senior and Steve Hand (Tarpon Springs). … D.A. Weibring (shoulder), Jerry Pate (knee) and Craig Stadler (illness) all withdrew Sunday.