Photo: Jonathan McNamara
Last Thursday night, Lexus of Richmond and Independence Golf Club hosted a Q&A on the range with PGA Hall-of-Famer Mark O’Meara. Virginia golfing legend Bobby Wadkins and LPGA Tour rookie and former Richmond Spider Elsa Diaz joined O’Meara. It was an intimate evening for the guests in attendance as about 35 attendees sat and watched the professionals swing while listening to their stories from the road.
O’Meara won two majors – The Master’s Tournament, which is the most prestigious tournament in professional golf, and the British Open, which is the most historical tournament in golf. Overall he has 34 professional wins and he spent almost 200 weeks in the top 10 world rankings for golf. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
He talked a lot about his interactions with Tiger Woods back in the 90’s – when Woods was about to embark on one of the most historic and successful careers in sports. O’Meara talked about giving Tiger advice before he ever won a tournament, telling him to hit the ball pin high and to control the the spin of the ball on the green.
O’Meara said that from the start, everyone could tell that Tiger was going to be the best. He told a story of a time that O’Meara was on the course with Arnold Palmer, when Tiger pulled up next to them after leaving the gym. Tiger didn’t have any clubs with him, instead he wanted to hit a few balls with Mark’s 1-iron. Mark said that Tiger then hit a fade, a draw, and a straight shot. All 3 of the balls landed within a few feet of each other. O’Meara told the small crowd that after seeing that, Palmer realized that Woods is was the real deal.
Bobby Wadkins, a local golf legend, attended Meadowbrook High School along with his brother Lanny Wadkins, who is also a professional golfer. Bobby finished in the top 10 a couple of Majors, but he never took the top spot. He does have 11 professional wins in his career including the Senior Players Championship on the Champions Tour.
Wadkins was the emcee on the range as O’Meara and Diaz showed off different shots from different clubs in their bags.
Elsa Diaz, a recent graduate of the University of Richmond is coming off of her first professional season. While she was at U of R, she helped lead the Spiders to back-to-back Patriot League titles, which was a first in Spiders’ history. Diaz talked to Richmond 2day about what it was like to participate in this event: “I feel absolutely privileged and lucky to have been able to give my first clinic with Mark O’Meara and Bobby Wadkins. It was an overwhelming experience to be able to stand next to men who have interacted with the best golfers in the world and who have their own place in history.
I was a little nervous to swing next to Mark, the two time major winner and Hall of Famer. I’d never imagine a Masters champion would hit balls right next to me, but with his inviting personality he made me feel like I was just as important. During the clinic, Mark would take the time to share the spotlight with me and directly ask my opinion on questions that came from the audience. Both Bobby’s and Mark’s humble demeanor and storytelling abilities about the days on the PGA tour made it a relaxed, yet unforgettable evening.”
O’Meara, Wadkins, and Diaz have a perspective on the game of golf that most people can’t even imagine. Attendees at the event said they enjoyed learning from the pro’s while also getting a glimpse into their world.
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