home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
Asaptext.com
ASAPtext.com
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our
e-Brochure

WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY


July 13, 2015


David Graham

Mark O'Meara


ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND

DAVE CORDERO: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Dave Cordero, the Director of Communications for the World Golf Hall of Fame. On behalf of the Hall of Fame, it is a tremendous honour to be hosting the induction ceremony here in St. Andrews, the home of golf. We are pleased that tonight's ceremony is being broadcasted live on Sky Sports, and in the U.S. on Golf Channel. A special thanks to our partners, Rolex and Shell Oil Company. Joining me now are David Graham and Mark O'Meara. Laura Davis regrettably cannot be here for the press conference but on a plane and is on her way to Scotland. Both of these men along with Davies and the late A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined tonight in Younger Hall at the University of St. Andrews. I'm going to ask David and Mark to comment on their impending induction and then we'll open it up for a question-and-answer session. Transcripts will be available immediately after the press conference and if anybody has any questions about attending the press conference, you can find me afterward. I'm going to start with David Graham.

DAVID GRAHAM: Welcome, everyone. Thank you. It's been a little while since I've been in a golf press tent like this. It's kind of cool. I guess it's even more special in the fact that it's at St. Andrews. My wife and I came here in 1970. It was my first major championship to play in. It brings back a lot of great memories, although I've seen more, I think, of St. Andrews in the last couple of days than I did in all of the years that we were here for Open Championships and Dunhill Cups. When you're a player you don't have the luxury of being much of a tourist. So the last few days have been pretty special. I'm obviously excited and delighted to get into the Hall of Fame. I'm particularly pleased to be sitting next to this guy right here. He and I have locked heads a few times on the golf course. I remember one day, Huntingdale, right? You beat me, you son of a gun, and right in front of my own people, too.

MARK O'MEARA: Didn't happen very often.

DAVID GRAHAM: So this is obviously the icing on the cake, to use an old cliché. Tonight is going to be an interesting, lovely evening. I've got my whole family here, so a lot of friends have come, so it's a treat, and it's an honour. It's something that you hope happens in your career, and it's obviously something that I have hoped for for quite some time, and finally -- I think mainly due to the reorganisation of what the World Golf Hall of Fame is supposed to stand for, you all know that it's been kind of reshuffled around a little bit. Tim Finchem now is the chair, and they've got an executive committee, and people like Annika Sorenstam are on that committee, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez. So I think the criteria is more transparent now than it has been in the past, which I think voids the controversy of who and why rather than it be a popularity contest. I think obviously for myself, and I know I can say for Mark, to be inducted into this Hall and to have it done in St. Andrews is another kind of double whammy. I'm happy to be here, and I'm looking forward to tonight, and I'm going to fly back home tomorrow and watch it on television. I'm going to watch you make the cut and pay some of your expenses.

MARK O'MEARA: Thank you, David. As David pointed out, it's a great thrill to be back to the home of golf, and certainly at St. Andrews. When I read on the internet last summer, I've been speaking to David about this day for about the last eight years. We bump into other each at different major championships, and I always ask David because I grew up admiring and playing against David Graham and I knew of David's career because I played with him and watched his great success on the golf course. I just never understood why he was not in the World Golf Hall of Fame for what he accomplished in the game. We both talked about it several times, and I saw on the internet that the induction ceremony in 2015 was going to be here at the Home of Golf at St. Andrews, and we both met last fall before we both knew that we were going to be this year's inductees, and we mentioned again, and David had said to me, wouldn't it be call if we both got the call at the same time, and to be able to go in the Hall together, and sure enough, that's what happened. I can't think of a better place. It's an amazing honour bestowed upon both of us and certainly Laura Davis and the Tillinghast family to come into the World Golf Hall of Fame and to have the ceremony here at St. Andrews, because I have a tremendous love for links golf, as I know David does, and he competed in this championship many, many times. I certainly was fortunate in '98 to win The Open Championship. We know what certainly golf means in Scotland and throughout the world, but especially here at St. Andrews. We're really excited about tonight. It's going to be a lot of fun, and we hope you all come.

DAVID GRAHAM: Well, they're already here.

MARK O'MEARA: Well, they've got to come to the ceremony, though, because we're going to cut loose tonight.

DAVID GRAHAM: We are? I'm deciding whether I need two vodka tonics now before or should I wait until one minute after. Have you done rehearsal yet?

MARK O'MEARA: I just did a walk through.

DAVID GRAHAM: You did a walk through. I did rehearsal today. That is going to be nerve-racking. You have an appreciation for these people that can get up on stage and talk to people.

MARK O'MEARA: And we don't get any mulligans, do we?

DAVID GRAHAM: We don't get any mulligans, no, and my wife is going to sit there and hopefully not make funny faces at me.

MARK O'MEARA: It will be a little bit emotional. Our careers have been a long time. I think this is my 35th year as a professional golfer, still playing and still competing. How many years?

DAVID GRAHAM: Well, I played in the Open here in 1970. I think, too, what's interesting to point out is that, especially this particular week, we all know that the great Jack Nicklaus said goodbye to his career at St. Andrews, but I walked into the dinner last night, and I walked right into Peter Thomson, five-time Open Champion, and he's 86 years old, and tonight even Arnold Palmer is going to come. I think what's really incredible is that that is an example of how much they love St. Andrews and how much they love the game, and they realise what they've contributed to it, but they're still contributing even though they don't compete anymore. It's going to be a pretty emotional night sitting in front of those two people.

DAVE CORDERO: At this time we will take questions.

Q. David, did you feel this day wasn't ever going to come?
DAVID GRAHAM: That's a fair question, and I'll answer that. I went through a period where I didn't think it was going to come. I didn't understand why it hadn't happened. I think I have a great debt to Gary Player and Arnold. I think it took, from what little knowledge I have, which is not much, but I think it took the strength of Tim Finchem to step up to the plate and say this is not working under the present situation, and I'll share a story with you because you may or may not know, and I don't know whether Mark did it, but they sent me a copy of the DVD from the 2013 induction ceremonies, and THE PLAYERS Championship was right down the road. Interestingly, there were 20-plus lady members of the Hall of Fame present at the ceremony but not one male member was there. And so you could say -- I understand why Arnold is not here. He's done it 40-some times, and I understand why Jack hasn't done it; he's done it 40-plus times and so on and so on. But you could make a case to say why weren't younger members of the Hall of Fame not there. And so I think Finchem saw that that was not working, and I think he stepped up to the plate and said, we're going to make a lot of changes, and some of them weren't easy to make, and it's obvious that we all know what happened with the golf writers, and I think that's still under the microscope for change. But I think the criteria for people to vote should be -- if you're a member of the Golf Writers Association for 10 years or 15 years or whatever, the young people that are now writing about golf don't know me. So when they look at a ballot and they have a vote, they look at the ballot and they vote by name recognition. They don't vote by your record. So maybe the old system would have worked if there were no names attached to the list of tournaments that you've won. There needed to be change, and there needed to be transparency so that people could look at the World Golf Hall of Fame and find out what the criteria is, and now you can do that, and you either meet the criteria or you don't meet the criteria. So I think Finchem really did a great job in restructuring and putting very, very accomplished players on that selection committee, so I think it wasn't perfect, but I think it's opened for a little change, but I think it's better than the old system.

Q. Specifically from an Australian perspective do you feel like this gives you that recognition of what you did in trailblazing those years ago?
DAVID GRAHAM: Well, I don't think we ever play golf for recognition. That's maybe the last thing you play golf for. You play because you love the game. You play because you like to compete. And in my case, I played because that was the way I could make money. I didn't really know what else to do. You never, I don't think, ever think about what happens at the end of your career. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm delighted. I could say it's late coming, but it's better late than never.

Q. There's no doubt you deserve to be in there. We all know that and we're all very happy that you are. You're obviously very emotional about this, and that's a good thing --
DAVID GRAHAM: You noticed that.

Q. But my understanding from talking to you over the last sort of four years at events about it, as well, is not only did you worry that it might not happen, but it sort of changed your personality looking back and made you question things about yourself, but certainly now that's all validated and you feel better about everything.
DAVID GRAHAM: Well, I never used to be very emotional, but I now take some pretty horrific medication for my condition, and I think based on that, with a lot of other things associated with it, and I can't stop it. I don't know why. I used to make putts and I never cried when I putted. You may have to hold my hand tonight. It is an emotional thing, and I think when you get older, you get more emotional. It's the end of your career.

MARK O'MEARA: You know, I've got to say this: Coming on the PGA Tour in 1980, I qualified for the TOUR. '81 was my first full year. So when I came on the TOUR, I obviously knew David Graham, but I will tell you that this man sitting next to me throughout my career treated me with incredible -- he was a role model for me, so I don't know -- I've heard things, he's really tough, he's mean, he's all this crap. Sorry about that. But look, I saw David as a great competitor and a friend of mine who helped me, because I as a young American player, as you guys know, played a lot more abroad than most other young American players in the mid-80s, in the late 80s, early 90s. And that is why it's the World Golf Hall of Fame. It's not just like the Hall of Fame. Golf is a global game, and it's become more global because of players like David Graham, because of Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Gary Player. At one time they didn't play much in the United States. They came over for the majors and everything, but then they started to, and David made his home base in America, because he knew that was the best Tour to play and compete on. Like I said earlier, it's humbling and a great experience to be alongside him in this year's inductees for sure.

DAVID GRAHAM: You're very kind.

MARK O'MEARA: No, It's true.

Q. David just said you don't play golf for the recognition, but can you speak to the recognition you receive for this as a culmination of the things that you've accomplished in your career?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I mean, it's the ultimate. Every young person when they start this game loves the game of golf as Dave pointed out. And we play for our pride, too. Pride is a great motivating factor, and sometimes in golf, you know, you never take enough time to really appreciate maybe what's transpired in your golf career, and to get the phone call from Tim Finchem last fall and to know who else I was going into the World Golf Hall of Fame with is the ultimate recognition that you can achieve in the game of golf, and it's something that we are very proud of. It's something that I know our families and dear friends and supporters that have stood by us all these years that have had a big impact on our lives are very proud of, too. It's going to be a very emotional evening. It's an emotional -- but it's an emotional high. It's a celebration, and it's something that I know we both appear to take a lot of pride in.

Q. Can you both speak very briefly about what your USGA victory meant in your career as far as maybe furthering it or embellishing what you were able to do or certainly in your case starting it before you won --
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, well, I know because I saw some highlights. I had a lot more hair. I was a lot younger, I was only like 22, and even though I won the U.S. Amateur I never knew if I was going to be a good professional golfer. For me at that time that was one of the greatest moments that I could ever have happen. But I think the U.S. Open champion has a lot more to say about it.

DAVID GRAHAM: Well, I think the PGA for me was a much bigger life changer than what the Open was, mainly because it was the first one I won, and because in those days you got a 10-year exemption. So here was I in 1972, I make a commitment. Fortunately I was married for four years but we didn't have any children, and there was no such thing as an international Tour, certainly one that was organised. There were global tournaments, but my gosh, I mean, you basically had to get yourself there. There weren't any courtesy cars in those days. And so I'd made a commitment because I had decided in those days that I didn't want to play golf and commute. That was just not financially practical or physically feasible, and so if I'd have had children, it would have been a completely different thing because I most likely would have not even continued my career as a player because you can't go through Asia and Europe and make a living out of it. So the fact that we didn't have children meant that my wife and I could just move to America, and it was the only established Tour. I had on and off years, but then when I won the PGA, I got a 10-year exemption, so now you can do things like let's start a family, let's buy a house, let's figure out where our kids are going to go to school and make plans for what you want, and then the more plans you put into the ground, the more permanent those decisions become, and I mean, in those days, I had people write about me that I was a traitor, I left my country, I wasn't a good Australian, I moved to America and all this kind of crap that people don't even discuss anymore. I have absolutely no regrets doing what I did. I wouldn't be here tonight if I had not have made that choice. But now people can have the ability to make that choice. They can play two or three weeks in Europe. They can jump on a plane. If it's not their plane, they can travel first class, and it's five or six hours away. They're making a lot of money and stuff. But my God, I won two French Opens and I think the first French Open I won, it took me six months to get $2,000. So I had already spent -- I was $1,000 out-of-pocket and had to wait six months. I won the Mexican Open one year in Mexico, and remember when they had that tournament -- did you play there?

MARK O'MEARA: Yeah.

DAVID GRAHAM: They said, well, first prize is $40,000. I went, wow, that's awesome, $40,000. It took me eight months to get my money, and when I finally got it after all of the taxes and the pre-taxes and the payoffs, I think they sent me a check for like eight grand. Nowadays, these guys, they play, they post the score, and like Wednesday it's just, poof, straight into your bank account. Different times. But I think the PGA was -- I don't think I'd have won The Open if I hadn't have won the PGA first, let's put it that wear. But Merion was like a triple whammy. Who would ever think that you would win -- I was lucky because if I'd have played the Sunday round on Thursday, and if I hadn't have won, nobody would have ever known it happened. So here am I at a historic golf course on Sunday at a U.S. Open, and I shoot what some have said a pretty good round of golf. All the stars were in the same line for that.

Q. I'm one of the old journalists who does remember you winning some of those titles. I'd just like both of you to say, one of the people who's not here with us today but I guess she'll be flying back in is Laura Davies, and how you feel that she deserves this honour that you guys have got.
DAVID GRAHAM: She should have been in years ago. I mean, she's got an unbelievable record. I mean, there's another scenario that you make a case for why isn't Ian Woosnam in. He's won plenty of tournaments. Laura Davies is one of the greatest females ever to play golf. What did she win, 80 tournaments?

DAVE CORDERO: 79.

MARK O'MEARA: I think it's long overdue for Laura. She is still playing very well, but she's been a dominant factor in women's golf throughout the globe, and certainly for her to be inducted this year along with David and myself and Tillinghast, we feel like it's a very strong class. It brings back what David pointed out earlier, a lot of credibility to the World Golf Hall of Fame. There's always been credibility. Every player that's in there, every person in there has had a huge impact in the game of golf. But for us all to go in together and to have Laura alongside us I think is very special because she's been great for the game of golf.

Q. David, have you still got the putter that you ran Hale over with in the World Match Play?
DAVID GRAHAM: No, actually that putter is actually now in the Merion archives. In fact, Jim Nantz, the great CBS commentator joined Merion four or five years ago, and we happened to bump into each other in the grill room at Augusta, and he asked me, where is that putter you've got, and it was actually downstairs in my house in Montana, and it was in an umbrella thing, and I had my old cricket bat in there and a couple old umbrellas and my putter was sitting there, and Ping used to give you the gold Pings, and I had a few of those sitting in there, and I'm sitting there one night, and I'm thinking -- I'll tell you what I thought, truly. If I pass away, this putter could finish up on eBay or it could finish up in the garbage can because other than my wife, really nobody knew what that putter was. And I'd given copies of it away but not the actual putter itself. And Jim Nantz, he said, where is that putter, and I said, well, I've got it at the house. He said, well, why don't you send it to Merion. I said, well, I'll do that. I thought, well, I'll take it to UPS today. Nah, I'll keep it one more day. Finally I went down there and I had them box it up and put it in a UPS package and sent it to Merion, so the original putter is at Merion.

Q. The way that you proved that age doesn't really matter so much, when you came back and you won The Open Championship and then we saw that wonderful match final of the World Match Play where you beat Tiger at Wentworth, that was a great year, wasn't it?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, at 41, certainly I wouldn't classify myself in the realm of doing anything like that. I mean, I think it goes to show you sometimes that in life you can push, push, push, but sooner or later when you back off a little bit, you get through to the other side, and maybe because at 41, no one expected me to win the Masters, maybe sometimes even including myself, to be honest with you, to be fair, and then all of a sudden there I was on Sunday afternoon on the 18th green to win the Masters, which was a tournament I started playing in 1980 as the U.S. Amateur champion and I shot a slick 80-81 and drove down Magnolia Lane thinking I'll never be back there ever again. At least I got to play there one time, let alone all the years, and then to make a putt on 18 at Augusta National -- because I've watched it, like all of us golf fans have watched and I still watch as a player, and I wonder how the heck does anybody do something like that or how anybody stands up under the pressure on 18 at Merion and hit a shot like David Graham hit? When you're in the moment, you never really know, and I was just very blessed that late in my career I was able to win a Masters and then come to The Open Championship at Birkdale where I played with Ian Baker-Finch in '91, tied for the lead after three rounds at Birkdale, and I watched Ian Baker-Finch hoist the Claret Jug in '91, and for me fortunately seven later as the Masters champ to come back to links golf, The Open Championship, which to me is if it's not the greatest it's right at the greatest championship in the world. It is The Open Championship of the world, and I think, even though I'm an American player, I still understand the international quality of the game of golf, and that's why I put it so high on my chart. It was a fantastic year and it was capped off certainly playing Tiger Woods in the final. I remember beating Vijay Singh 11 & 10 on Saturday and Tiger was playing Ian Woosnam and they went extra holes, and I didn't know who to pull for, because I knew Tiger was No. 1 in the world but I also know that I've played a lot of golf with Tiger Woods and I have a great friendship and a great respect for what he can do and how he plays. I know I don't play golf like Tiger Woods, but I also know that he knows that when we play together, that if I played fairly well enough or I could putt good enough, that I could beat him, and I knew he knew that, so that was a little bit of an advantage, but we had a great match, and I was fortunate to win that day.

Q. You've spoken about David as a person and how helpful he was. Would you please tell me as a player, what was the thing about his game that struck you most?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I think David had a very -- in my opinion very simple, classic swing, an incredibly accurate driver of the ball, very, very solid. But David was a great competitor. Not a competitor as the sort that he might have tried to play any gamesmanship out on the golf course at all. He would never try to do that. But he would be an incredible grinder. You know, he'd be prepared on every shot that he played out there. That's my view of David Graham.

DAVID GRAHAM: Thank you. I think, too, though, if you look at the era in which I played and Mark played most of his, I think it's -- people never really got to know the player off the golf course, and they mostly still don't even today, but you've also got to remember that when we played in tournaments, yeah, a putt was $500 or it was $1,000. It wasn't millions. I wouldn't mind finishing second today and getting $800,000. My bank manager, even though I may be upset for a couple of days, he would think that's a pretty good deal. But in the era that we played, I mean, I couldn't afford to be a ham on the golf course or backhand putts. I never did that in my life. I think it's fair to say that I projected a certain stature or mentality on the golf course, but that's the only way that I could walk off the golf course and say, you know, I didn't throw any money away today because I was stupid, and I think you get into that mindset of even if you play the last hole and you're going to finish eighth, you still want to try and make a birdie. You don't want to make double bogey because that's just like throwing hundred dollar bills away.

Q. Is that a characteristic given to you by your father or your mother?
DAVID GRAHAM: My father didn't teach me one damn thing other than to not be like him, so God rest his soul. That's a long story and a pretty rough subject to talk to. I think what he taught me is that I didn't want to be like him, and I didn't want to be the father that he was. That's enough of that.

Q. Can you give the reasons why I think you've been ignored for so long?
DAVID GRAHAM: Oh, I don't have any idea why. I'm not even going to go there as far as an answer. I don't have an answer to that question. If I did, I would honestly give it to you. I think I will say this, and it's understandable, that there was a period where I was like a man without a country, because I wasn't in Australia anymore. I was playing in America, but I was still an international player, and so I don't know whether that had anything to do with the imbalance of what the requirement was and stuff like that. I was really, in my stage, like Bruce Devlin, Bruce Crampton, myself, we all made decisions that some people said we defected our country. Well, I never defected. I just left to go somewhere else so I could make a living. It had nothing to do with love of country. But I was always an Australian in America, and then when I went to Australia, now I was too much of an American, so I don't know whether that had anything to do with it or not, but that's kind of the only answer I can give you.

Q. Can you say now the glaring omissions that -- you mentioned Ian Woosnam. Any others, and why do you think Woosnam hasn't --
DAVID GRAHAM: Well, he's won two majors. He's over 50. He's won some other tournaments. P√°draig Harrington is obviously going to get in the Hall pretty soon.

MARK O'MEARA: Tiger maybe. He may have to wait a little bit.

DAVID GRAHAM: I think he'll get in, yeah. I think if you look at the list of players that are not in and you look at the tournaments that they've won, I think under the new system it's fair to say that they're going to get in more now. It's not a popularity contest anymore, I guess, is what I'm saying.

Q. David, I'd like to ask you your pick for this week, and you too, Mark, but are you surprised at all that you're the only Australian to win two different majors?
DAVID GRAHAM: Well, no, not really. I mean, to win combinations of majors is not easy because you play on so many different style of golf courses. You only play four times a year, so they're hard in itself. It makes you look at a guy like Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, and you think, you know, they're 14 and 18 majors. It's incredible. You look at a guy like Roger Federer, he nearly won Wimbledon yesterday. Winning a couple of them is nice, but you don't plan to win separate ones. I think majors are really, really difficult to win, even today. They're super difficult because the quality of golfers are so good.

Q. Do you think Scottie or maybe Jason Day could ever challenge Peter Thomson's follow? Would that end the apparent golf in Australian golf?
DAVID GRAHAM: I don't know, what do you think?

MARK O'MEARA: Five Open Championships. Listen, there's no question that a guy like David Graham and Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Bruce Crampton, there's been a lot of very fine Australian golfers that have set the table for Australian golf to flourish like it has. Jason Day is a wonderful player, Adam Scott is a wonderful player, and there's a lot of other young talented -- I saw Marc Leishman out there and Marcus Fraser teeing off. There's a lot of people, but it's difficult to win any tournament, let alone a major championship because like David said earlier, all the stars have to align a little bit. You do have to be a little bit lucky. It takes a lot of skill but it takes a little bit of luck. So many things can happen over a four-day period of time. And this week there's a lot of young, talented players. We witnessed just obviously the first two majors, Jordan Spieth, what he's done. Could he win here? Absolutely. Is there going to be a lot of pressure on him? Absolutely. Can he handle it? I think he can.

DAVID GRAHAM: I think so.

MARK O'MEARA: But in saying that, Rickie Fowler just winning yesterday, birdieing the last three holes. And there's other ones to boot. I mean, obviously it's disappointing that Rory got hurt, that he can't come and defend his title, but yet there's so many good players, as David pointed out. Look, I grew up idolizing all these guys. I came along, I thought the players of our generation were very good, but the players of today's generation are even better, and there's more of them because all the global attention, the media attention, all these things have helped develop golf, and because it's probably one of the greatest games you could ever play, and you could play for a long time. Fifty-eight years of age, and I'm still out there trying to figure it out, still competing. We're going to watch Tom Watson this year at 65. You know, we saw what he did at Turnberry. This is going to be his last Open Championship. But Tom Watson at 65 is still one heck of a golfer. He can still play some damned good golf, and there's not many sports that you can do that.

Q. This is a question for both David and Mark. How do you get over a major disappointment like what Dustin went through at Chambers Bay?
MARK O'MEARA: It's never easy. I was at Chambers Bay on Thursday doing some stuff, and I watched as we all watched. To me Dustin Johnson is an incredible athlete and a very talented player and the more times you keep putting yourself in that position, even though you have setbacks, you learn from that. And I certainly think Dustin Johnson realises he has the tools and the game to compete at the highest level and to compete and win a major championship. I know it hasn't happened yet and he's had some disappointments, but when you look at the history of the game, there's been great players that didn't get the job done right away. Sometimes it's better maybe to kind of have a few setbacks and realise some of the heartbreaks of defeat, which in the long run makes you better coming down the stretch so when he has his victory, which I imagine he will, he'll be a heavy contender here this week at the Open Championship at St. Andrews because of his length, you know, I think you grow from it. It's disappointing, but you move on. You realise that there's going to be other tournaments. He's going to have other chances, and you learn from your mistakes.

Q. You two gentlemen are in a historic class in that you'll be inducted here at St. Andrews. I'm curious if you could share a story or two of your first visits here to the Home of Golf?
DAVID GRAHAM: Yeah, I've got a bunch of them. I sat next to Gary Player last night. You talk about some interesting stories. Man, that guy should have been a stand-up comedian. We're sitting at the table near the Old Course overlooking at fairway there at 17, and you said, you know, man, I was here in 1956. He said, I slept right over there in that little hole in the ground, like a bunker. He said, I took my clubs and I laid my head on the golf bag and I went to sleep. Then I went to the hotel right there on the corner and I got a room for £1 and sixpence. He went downstairs and he started itching and he went to the manager, and he said, man, I've got bugs all over me, and he said, what do you expect for £1 six pence? That's his job, not mine. The first year I came was 1970. I'd only been married about a year and a half -- a year and a couple of months. We checked in, I had the good fortune to know Keith MacKenzie. I think that's what he's -- he put Maureen and I in the Rusacks Hotel, and he put us in a beautiful corner room, and I don't know how much it was but it was way over my price range in those days, but that was where all the players stayed, most of the players stayed, and we had this lovely corner room. I don't know what the number was. Actually I think I made the cut on Friday afternoon. The general manager came and knocked on the door and said, I'm sorry, Mr. Graham, but you're going to have to move. I said, what do you mean I'm going to have to move. I like my room, I like my view, I'm going to be able to watch the winning player come down the 18th fairway. He said, well, members of the royal family have decided to come and this is their favourite room. Would you please move. So I realised how unimportant I was in the world of golf. So I went from this beautiful room with a great big view to a back room that had a little window about that big overlooking a dumpster. My first day here I got up and I had breakfast, and I don't remember how many holes of golf I played, and I completely had no interest in the time, and I finished up getting back to the hotel at about 10:30. I think Tom Weiskopf and I just kept going around and around and around, and my wife said, do you realise you missed lunch, you missed afternoon tea, you've missed dinner, you've missed four meals that I have sat in this room, and I said, well, what's the problem? She said, well, it's 10:30. I said, well, hell, I could have played another nine. So anyway, that was my wife's major induction to what it took to play the game. She never complained ever since.

MARK O'MEARA: Listen, as a young man growing up in Southern California and then playing golf and trying to become a professional golfer, and certainly my first trip to St. Andrews, I can't remember what year it was. I think this was my fifth Open Championship at St. Andrews, it's always been amazing. To me the fans -- it would have been after that because I didn't turn pro until '80, I wasn't that good. But the fans, the knowledge of the game over here is tremendous, and David will probably know this, too, because here if you just hit a ball into a little bit of trouble and you make a good recovery shot, you get applauded for that. That doesn't happen in many other places. It doesn't happen in America for sure. But I just think it's great, the knowledge. I remember one year playing The Open Championship at Muirfield, and I was standing right there at the golf course right there, and Arnold Palmer was in the room next to me, and he had missed the cut, and I had made the cut. On Saturday morning the rain was coming sideways, was blowing 40 miles an hour a gale, and I'm getting ready to go out and I've got my rain suit on and I see Mr. Palmer in the room next to me and he's peering out at me, and I'm thinking -- all he could say was, you know what, I so badly wish I was going out there today, and all the local fans, everybody is coming in and sitting in the grandstands. I mean, there's not many places in the world that that would transpire. It's really not just the links golf experience, not just the history of The Open Championship, but it's also the fans. It's also the gallery. They're just amazing and make the players feel so welcome and appreciated, and that's my love for coming here and playing every year.

Q. When you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, you're going to share a pretty neat relationship link to players going back a long ways, and if you could complete the sentence, basically, I'm so happy to be linked to Old Tom Morris or Jack Nicklaus or whomever, who would you both associated as I'm part of this group with this golfer or this person?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, it's hard to pick just one. To me, as a young man I grew up idolizing Jack Nicklaus, but it's not just Nicklaus. It's Mr. Palmer. I turned pro in 1980 in Ben Hogan's office. I share a locker at Augusta with Gene Sarazen. My name is under Mr. Sarazen's, and he was still alive when I hosted the dinner in '99 and he was at the dinner in '99. The respect, I think that's probably the No. 1 thing that goes down in my mind, the respect the players have for one another and the players that set the groundwork and the foundation for us to come along and make a living, for me just to be included -- I feel I'm a very small part of that, but it's really a tremendous honour to be certainly included into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

DAVID GRAHAM: Well, I think in my case the big three. When I started in the game, the big three, that was it. And when you look back and you think about what the big three did globally for the game, when travelling was not that pleasurable, I mean, I walked into the locker room on a Tuesday afternoon in I think 1971 at Royal Hobart Golf Club in Tasmania, and I bumped right into Jack Nicklaus. Now, can you imagine living in Palm Beach, Florida, and getting to Tasmania to play in the Australian Open in 1971? You most hardly can't do the math, but if you lived in Palm Beach, you would have to go to Fort Lauderdale and fly to Atlanta. From Atlanta you would hope that you would get on a non-stop flight to Los Angeles, where then you would have to go to Honolulu and either stay overnight or get on another plane. You would have to then go to Fiji, and if the winds were too strong you'd then have to go south to Auckland before you could go across to Sydney to catch an internal flight to Melbourne to catch another flight to Tasmania. And Jack Nicklaus did that in 1971, and he won by a gazillion shots. Gary Player did the same thing. I can remember I had it in my speech, and I took it out, but I remember -- I think it was maybe 1970. It was at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne. It was either Wills Masters or one of those tournaments that Gary -- Gary Player won seven Australian Opens in the '70s. You talk about a man that traveled and promoted the game. Nicklaus won six Australian Opens. At the height of his career, he still went to Australia in November. Arnold won an Australian Open and won a Wills Masters but still came dozens of times. I remember one day at Victoria, it was pouring with rain, and I won't tell you the guy's name. It's not relevant. But there were a whole bunch of people upstairs in this clubhouse, had these beautiful plate glass windows and it overlooked the 18th green down to where the practice fairway was, and there was one person on the practice fairway with his rain suit on, with his bag, his caddie out there, and this guy walked past a group of people at the table and said, who's that idiot out there hitting practice balls, and somebody turned around and said, "that idiot is Gary Player." And then said, "how do you think you're going to beat him if you're sitting in the clubhouse and he's out there practising?" That impacted me, so what did I do? I went and got my clubs, put on my rain suit and started practising. I started a conversation with Gary Player. Nicklaus walked into the locker room at Hobart and said, "do you want to play nine?" I was like, "me?" Yeah, sure. We went out and played the back nine at Royal Hobart. I was on the putting green at Metropolitan when Arnold Palmer was there. He had six putters, he had his bag, a great, big leather bag, I was on the putting ground and Arnold Palmer walks over and says, I've never played here, do you want to play with me and show me the course? I go, me? Yeah, sure. This is in Australia when I'm like 21 years of age. I think they impacted my life the most.

Q. Mark, you've mentioned Tiger a couple of times today. I just wanted to know what you think about his battle to get back to his best and whether you think he can add to his collection of major titles.
MARK O'MEARA: Listen, I'm not expert on anything, but I certainly am a big fan of the game of golf and I'm a big fan of Tiger's. I know he's been through a lot, and when you look and watch what he accomplished in that 11-year stretch or 12-year stretch, you know, it's just phenomenal, and it's always difficult to judge generations. It's always tough to say, well, this player is better than that player. I didn't get to play with Jack Nicklaus when he was totally in his prime, but I still played with him when he was very, very good and still winning, and he's considered the greatest player because he's won the most majors. But I really -- I've said this many, many times. I find it hard to believe that anybody has ever played golf like Tiger Woods, and I don't care about the equipment because I think if Tiger played with all the old equipment and everybody else had the old equipment, I think Tiger would have won more tournaments. Do I think he can win again? I would never underestimate him. Do I think he has battled? Absolutely, on and off the golf course. We all do. We all have our problems on the course, off the course. But you know, yeah, the problem is that he's been away from the game. He hasn't won in a while. I know that. But you give him a sniff of it, and he starts to play a little bit better, and he starts to slowly get his confidence. He seemed to have played a little bit better last week at Greenbrier, a week-and-a-half ago, and he knows how to play a round here. But the only other issue is these younger players have gotten a lot better, too, over the last three or four years, and maybe so much of the intimidation factor that Tiger had at one time and Jack Nicklaus had in his prime, big intimidation factor, Tiger had that, it's not as great, so that kind of bodes against him a little bit. But I do believe he can win again. I think he'll win another major championship. I don't know if he'll catch Jack or not. Probably maybe not, but if I say that, that'll maybe motivate him to try. We'll have to wait and see. But he's been great for the game. He's been great for me to be in my life, to help me. When you're around somebody that great, it helps make you greater. When I played with this guy, I knew he was a tremendous player, and when I played around David Graham, it made me better. That's what you need to do to get better. Play with the best.

DAVID GRAHAM: I still think if his name is on the leaderboard Sunday, he's still the most feared player on the golf course, and he can control the flight of his golf ball better than anybody that I've ever seen play. If he makes a couple of putts, there's no telling. And I agree with you, he's been fabulous for the game of golf.

DAVE CORDERO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297