- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One month, the debate was Fred Couples getting elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame by the slimmest of margins. The next month, conversation shifted to whom the PGA of America would consider as the next Ryder Cup captain.

Both topics were a reminder to Mark O'Meara that despite 24 wins around the world, two major championships, five Ryder Cup teams and trophies collected from five continents, it’s easy to feel left out.

“Hey, things are good in my life,” O'Meara said Tuesday from River Oaks Country Club in Houston, where he occasionally puts the claret jug and trophies from the Masters and U.S. Amateur on display for members. “My health is good. My family is great. I’m blessed to have played this game for a long time, and I’m still playing. If someday they want to call me, that’s great.”

A phone call from whom? And about what?


Any chance to be Ryder Cup captain has come and gone. O'Meara qualified for five teams from 1985 to 1999 and seemed to be a logical choice, especially after Payne Stewart’s death, to be captain in 2006 when the matches went to Ireland. He met with PGA officials at Kiawah Island in 2004 to let them know how much he was interested. The PGA of America instead chose Tom Lehman, who played on three Ryder Cup teams and had five career PGA Tour titles, including a British Open.

“To be honest, I was a little disappointed I didn’t even get considered,” O'Meara said.

He suspects he was painted as a culprit in the pay-for-play argument that was such a big part of the conversation going into the 1999 Ryder Cup.

O'Meara still believes he was unfairly labeled. Besides, he wasn’t alone in taking up the cause. Tiger Woods and David Duval, at the time Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, also were outspoken about the enormous amount of money the PGA of America generates from the Ryder Cup _ said to be upward of $60 million this year _ by showcasing players from another organization (PGA Tour). It’s different in Europe because money from the Ryder Cup is divided three ways, with 60 percent going to the European Tour.

What resulted from that debate was the PGA of America agreeing to donate $200,000 to charity through each player and the captain, a total of $2.6 million. From the 2010 Ryder Cup, $50,000 was earmarked for a PGA of America program at the player’s college and $50,000 for something called the Junior Ryder Cup Academy.

“I do these corporate outings, and they ask me when I’m going to be the next captain,” O'Meara said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that. I just tell them, `That ain’t going to happen.’ My time has passed. There are other individuals who deserve it a lot more. Larry Nelson comes to mind. If the PGA of America has any heart, take him. The guy has had a hell of a career, a great Ryder Cup and he’s a fine man.”

If not the Ryder Cup, perhaps O'Meara could be a Presidents Cup captain.

Or not.

Couples was appointed U.S. captain for 2009 at Harding Park, a five-point win for the Americans. A short time later, O'Meara said he called PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem about being the next Presidents Cup captain at Royal Melbourne.

“I said, `Listen, Tim, I don’t know where you stand or who the selection committee is, but I’d love to do it,’” O'Meara said. “It was in Australia. I had won the Australian Masters. It was perfect timing for me. But he never called me back.”

Couples and Greg Norman were chosen to repeat as captains in 2011 (another American romp), and Couples was selected to return as captain for a third straight time next year at Muirfield Village.

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