O'Meara and junior

Mark O’Meara was paired with 15-year-old junior player Alexa Vela at the PURE Insurance Golf Championship at Poppy Hill and Pebble Beach golf courses.

The PURE Insurance Golf Championship wrapped Sept. 29 with two Long Beach State alums playing as part of the PGA Senior tour.

The 78 pros are each paired with boys and girls, ages 14 to 18, from The First Tee, a program that encourages youth to enter the sport. The teams are grouped, along with amateurs into foursomes over the three days, with groups playing each day on one of two courses (Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course).

The Grunion Gazette caught up with Long Beach State alum Mark O’Meara as he started play on Friday. At the first tee at Poppy Hills, it was evident the 62-year-old is following local sports because he noted Long Beach State women’s golf team's second consecutive Big West Championship earlier this year.

After graduating with a degree in marketing in 1980, O'Meara turned professional. He is one of only two players who have won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am five times — in 1985, 1989, 1990, 1992 and 1997. Phil Mickelson won in 1998, 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2019.

Even the normally scripted starter attired in his formal blue blazer at the first hole added “Mr. Pebble Beach” to O’Meara’s introduction.

O’Meara was paired with 15-year-old junior player Alexa Vela, from Pearland, Texas. Vela started playing golf at age 4, after her parents, who had no knowledge of golf, met another golfer with Long Beach roots, Tiger Woods. Her folks were so “astonished by the name he was making for himself” that they encouraged their daughter to pursue the sport.

As they started their day, O’Meara said with a calming smile on his face to the apprehensive First Tee player: “Hey partner, let’s go have fun.”

This is a 54-hole, stroke-play tournament where the lowest score wins. The cut is made to the top 50 after the first day and ties after two rounds. Unfortunately, O’Meara finished the day 4 over par, missing the cut.

Amateur players included former Vice President Dan Quayle and the father–daughter team of Peter and Heidi Ueberroth.

Paul Goydos finished the tournament tied at 31st and took home just under $15,000. Born and raised in Long Beach, Goydos attended Wilson High School, and went on to attend Long Beach State on a golf scholarship and graduated with a degree in finance.

Goydos was inducted into the inaugural class of the Long Beach Golf Hall of Fame in 1996 and was inducted into the Long Beach State 49er Athletic Hall of Fame the same year.

Kirk Triplett took home top honors, and the 2019 Pure Insurance Championship purse was $2.1 million, with the winner's share coming in at $315,000.

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