Last Thursday afternoon at Riviera Country Club, Sean O’Hair, who was getting a lesson with instructor Sean Foley, bombed a drive, turned around to Hunter Mahan, also a student of Foley’s, and jokingly said, “Next week — suck on that, b—-!”
Mahan and O’Hair, who have been good friends since they were 13, face each other in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. At the time they weren’t aware the bracket was final yet, and when informed, they didn’t look thrilled, but continued the playful trash-talking.
“I hope they both shoot seven-under and someone loses in a nine-hole playoff,” said Foley, who also coaches Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Stephen Ames.
Foley doesn’t plan on watching Mahan, who is ranked No. 18, and O’Hair, who is ranked No. 47, face-off on Wednesday. “Rosey and Tiger will be playing, too, so I’ll be watching them,” he said.
Of course, with five PGA Tour players on Foley’s client list, he realizes it’s inevitable his students will duel each other at some point during the season.
“They’re both ranked in the top 47 in the world, so it means some good things,” said Foley. “At the same time, I don’t mind if Hunter and Sean meet up in the second or the third round. It’s golf — at the end of the day they might be friends, but they’re going to try to beat each other’s heads in.”
O’Hair, who had a long off-season with the birth of his fourth child this winter, also wishes it didn’t have to be the first round.
“I wish we were going against each other in the final match, but at the end of the day, you gotta beat everybody to win the thing,” said O’Hair. “Hunter’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Added Foley: “It’ll be fun, but it’ll be a little weird, that’s all.”
The fun already started at the range at last week’s Northern Trust Open, with O’Hair and Mahan playfully taking jabs at each other (O’Hair’s “Suck on that” comment was particularly hilarious).
John Wood, who loops for Hunter, asked O’Hair, “Where are you staying?”
“At a house,” O’Hair replied.
“I’m going to send you a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue the night before,” quipped Wood. “What do you drink?”
“I like Crown,” said O’Hair.
“I’ll send you a bottle of each,” Wood said with a wry smile before walking away with Hunter.