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He began working with Washington psychologist Julie Elion this summer. For the Tour Finals, the four tournaments he played to earn one of 25 cards, he put father-in-law Steve Lucas back on the bag. At home outside Philadelphia, he began working on his putting with the pro at White Manor, John Dunigan, who used to teach O’Hair’s wife before she went to Florida Atlantic.

It was humbling to return to the Tour, but O'Hair saw it as the only way back.

“A gut shot,” he said. “It was like, `Do I really want to do this?’ There were a lot of tears this year. It was hard. It was hard on my wife. It was hard on me.”

O'Hair wasn’t the only player who had to start over.

Ryo Ishikawa, who played on the previous two Presidents Cup team and began racking up wins on the Japan Golf Tour when he was 15, for years had it easy. He received three special invitations to the Masters. He received rock-star status and could get whatever sponsor exemption he wanted. But he failed to keep his PGA Tour card. So as contemporary Hideki Matsuyama was getting ready for the Presidents Cup, Ishikawa was at Tour events in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina.

He has his card again. He earned it.

So did Heath Slocum, who just four years ago made a 20-foot par putt to win The Barclays over Woods, Els, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington.

“In a 12-year career, you can take a lot for granted,” Slocum said.

All of them are at the Open, wanting to get a head start on what feels like a second chance. It doesn’t figure to be easy. Jack Nicklaus said last week, “We’ve got more good young players than we’ve ever had before.”

O'Hair is 31, the father of four. His world ranking is No. 301. He has a long way to go, and the Open is only a start.

But at least it’s a start.

“I was in this situation and could either say, `I should be here’ or `I should be there’ and kind of sulk about it,” O'Hair said. “But instead I thought, `You know what? I’m here. It is what it is. And I need to make the best of it and I need to humble myself to where I’m just any Joe Blow. I need to earn my spot again. I was glad I did that.”