LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – For a little while at least, a woman who is six months pregnant led an otherwise all-male field packed with all-star athletes.
Blair O’Neal, 38, mapped out the bathrooms before she even played one hole at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. That intel proved important, maybe more important, than the whipping wind on Friday at Tranquilo Golf Club. Bathroom breaks come every half hour these days.
O’Neal ultimately finished the day in sixth place on the celebrity board, eight points behind a trio of players including John Smoltz, Chad Pfeifer and Mardy Fish. Smoltz, a Baseball Hall of Famer, won this tournament in 2019. Pfeifer, an Iraq vet who lost his left leg in an IED explosion, picked up golf as a form of therapy. He called the game a lifesaver and will keep a grounded perspective as he battles to stay at the top.
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” said Pfeifer, “keep having fun, and keep playing golf. Nobody is trying to blow me up or shoot at me, so life’s pretty good.”
Golf Channel Host Blair O'Neal looks on after playing her shot from the 17th tee during the first round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. (Photo: Michael Reaves, Getty Images)
Inspiration abounds here at Tranquilo Golf Club, where Hall of Famers pepper the tee sheet.
O’Neal, who played at Arizona State, is a former Symetra Tour player turned model and TV personality. This week is a family affair for O’Neal as husband Jeff Keiser is her caddie.
Keiser works in finance at PetSmart’s corporate headquarters in Phoenix, so numbers are his thing. But this week he’s also in charge of making sure his wife stays comfortable and rested.
O’Neal could count on one hand the number of rounds she has played these past six months. She wasn’t sure how her lower back would take five rounds of golf.
Little things like a sun umbrella, naps and on-course PB&J sandwiches are high on the priority list and could mean the difference in stamina during the weekend.
O’Neal is due to give birth to a boy on April 13, the Monday after the Masters. She taped several shows for Golf Channel’s “School of Golf” in Orlando ahead of the tournament and will film more before heading back home to Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Once I go into the clubhouse and eat and sit down,” said O’Neal, “that’s when it hits, and that’s when he starts kicking around. When I’m out there, he’s quiet and sleeping.”
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