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Issue: July at  25 July 2013

O'Meara honoured by Royal Birkdale
Photograph © Getty Images

IN tribute to his Open Championship success in 1998, Mark O'Meara was awarded Honorary Membership of Royal Birkdale Golf Club ahead of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.

The American triumphed across the celebrated Southport links 15 years ago to claim the Claret Jug following a play off with Brian Watts; just months after winning his maiden Major at the Masters Tournament, and this week returns to the North West of England looking to build on an impressive turn in The Open Championship at Muirfield.

O'Meara was 1 of 5 players in The Senior Open field to make the cut in The 142nd Open Championship in East Lothian last week, eventually finishing in a tie for 58th having shared second place after the 1st round following an opening 67.

Now, back at Royal Birkdale looking to win his third title at the venue having also claimed the Lawrence Batley International there in 1987, O'Meara's repeat successes have been recognised by the club.

"It's an unbelievable tribute to be made an Honorary Member of Royal Birkdale. I've obviously had a long career of playing all the different links golf courses and I just have such fond memories of the great moments I've had here. It's my favourite links golf course anywhere in the world. It's a true test of golf. I 1st set eyes on it in 1987 when I won the Lawrence Batley here; in 1991 I came back and played with Ian Baker Finch tied for the lead, but of course The Open Championship that was played here in '98 was a dream come true for me, to hold the Claret Jug right here on the 18th green was really the icing on the cake for me with my career."
said the 56 year old North Carolina native.

Despite rainfall softening the course in the days building up to the event, O'Meara still believes that Royal Birkdale will provide as stern a test to the 156 strong Senior Open field as Muirfield did last week.

Mark O'Meara continued:- "It's going to be just as demanding if not even tougher to be honest with you, especially if the wind kicks up. I've played it in really severe conditions before. You just have to be very patient and sometimes par is a very good score. I've had past success here and that helps but it doesn't give you the right to think you're going to go out there and play well. I have to hit good quality shots and drive the ball well this week and hole some putts. If I can do those things then hopefully I'll be able to contend on Sunday."

Royal Birkdale Club Captain Jonathan Seal presented O'Meara with a commemorative tie ahead of the 27th edition of the Senior Open Championship.

He said:- "It is a huge pleasure to extend Honorary Membership to Mark in the way that we have our other previous Open Champions going back to Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Ian Baker-Finch. On behalf of all the members of Royal Birkdale, we welcome Mark on board."

O'Meara will launch his title bid at 13.50 on Thursday in the company of defending champion Fred Couples and Senior Open debutant Colin Montgomerie and says the grouping will be one to savour.

He reflected:- "We go way back. I went to Qualifying School and got my touring card with Fred back in 1980 in the fall. We had some cool years. Colin I have a lot of respect for, and played a lot of golf with him."

Photographs by Mark Robinson/Hatton Promotions.

BOXING manager Matt Clark is looking on the bright side of Lucas Browne's fight with Richard Towers falling through. The big punching heavyweights were set to meet, Thursday, 25 July 2013, at the Melbourne Pavilion, but Towers was forced to withdraw as he has been unable to obtain a visa. Tough American Travis "Freight Train" Walker has agreed to step up to the plate, and Clark sees him as an ideal late notice test for his charge. Clark, who also trains Browne, said:- "While I was disappointed that the Towers fight has been cancelled again, I'm delighted that such a top level replacement has been brought in. Travis is well known to Aussie fight fans. He was in a tremendous fight with Alex Leapai and blasted out Kali Meehan. Travis has been in with some top class operators. He's had Tomasz Adamek and Chris Arreola on the deck so it's a great fight for Lucas and I know he's trained hard for the bout." If victorious on Thursday a logical next fight for Browne would be against the aforementioned Leapai. The majority for boxing experts down under see them as number 2 and 2 in the country so a meeting would be a huge draw. But Clark is also keen to state that, despite 2 cancellations, the eagerly anticipated tussle with Towers is far from dead in the water.

Lucas, himself, said:- "I'm sure Leapai and Browne will meet at some point and it'll be a big bout for Aussie fight fans. The same goes for Richard Towers. If we need to come to England for that fight, we're there. Lucas has a profile that is really growing in the UK and Ireland. You've only got to look at his Twitter. Hopefully those fans get to see him in the flesh again soon. Firstly though, we need to get through Walker. The replacement of Travis Walker is an awesome one and the things that I've been working on will still be able to be used against him. Travis has shown he has power, but also that he comes on strong in the early rounds, so it's up to me to stay firm with my guard and not fall into a brawl with him. I want to box him and show my skills."

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