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July 20, 2017

Mark O'Meara

Southport, England

MARK O'MEARA: I just got off to such a poor start. When you're 9-over par through eight holes or whatever I was, you know, it's very disappointing, to be honest with you, but it's not the end of the world. I realise kind of where I'm at in my life. But, you know, you still play for your pride. When I play like that, I don't care who plays like that, they're disappointed. And certainly I'm disappointed that I didn't do better today. But it is what it is. And like I said earlier, for the R&A to give me that privilege at the first tee shot shows the respect for what they have for their Open champions, the respect to know that this was going to be my last Open Championship.

Look, to have my name on that Claret Jug one time is an amazing thing, especially for a young guy, growing up in Southern California starting the game late. And at 41 to have that dream come true was pretty neat.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I mean a lot of it has to do with the fact that my exemption runs out. I'm 60, so I'd have to finish in the top 10.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: No, I'd have to finish in the top 10, and that obviously is not going to happen. But my son's on the bag. It's nice.

And I played really poorly, that's all I can say. I hung in on the back nine, 3-putting from the back edge or off the edge on 18. When you're not playing good and the course is playing pretty tough out there -- the great thing about Birkdale, even when up the weather is really trying, and I've seen it way, way worse than this, you can still get it around Birkdale, which I think shows the quality of the golf course out there.

There will be decent scores. Anything in the red will be a nice score today. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody shoots three or four, maybe even 5-under par today. It's possible.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: Early it was tough only because it was raining. It was raining, you were wet. The second hole, the wind was obviously completely different. It's more of the wind that normally happens here. In the practice rounds the wind was coming the other direction, and there wasn't much wind in the practice round. So Birkdale is kind of showing its teeth out there a little bit today.

If it continues to blow through the weekend, the weather is on and off, even par has always been a good score around here. If you look at the winning score here through the years and all The Open championships we've witnessed, nobody goes low here. Nobody shoots 8, 7, 9, 10-under par, I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but anybody who's close to par come the last day is going to have a chance to win here.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: You know, I was a little bit nervous, but I wouldn't say, I'm a real honest guy, I wouldn't say I was overly nervous. I would have thought I would've been more nervous, but I was not pleased when I hit that shot. I don't think anybody would be. My name is on my golf bag, I've won the Open Championship, I'm in the Hall of Fame, when you hit one straight right off the first tee out of bounds, it would be like standing on the first tee on the Ballybunion and hitting the graveyard. My day was toast after that first tee shot. But I still had to play.

But, look, at one point I felt like I was going to shoot 90 out there. I shot 81, so be it. It's not like I haven't shot 81 in my life. I don't care if you're 30, 40, 50, 60, whatever age you are, once again, you really play a lot for your pride, too. And I'm not very proud of what I accomplished out there today. I should have played better. I expect better.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: He's a very positive, great young man, I'm very proud of him. He stayed positive. His dad didn't stay so positive.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, they did. They contacted me a couple of weeks ago, and said, would Mark mind being in the first group that early? I wake up early, so that wasn't a problem getting out there early. But when you get older, the wind comes, you're cold, the eyes are watering. But it was tough out there for everybody today.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: I was up at 4:30.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: I think that they -- listen, every guy that plays professional golf, once again, would dream to have the opportunity to win The Open Championship. And I obviously lived that dream. So I think a lot of my peers were wishing me luck or this or that, but I also knew coming here if the weather got tough, it was going to be difficult. But I've played 31 Open championships -- 30, coming into this week. And I've only missed the cut six times, so I take tremendous pride in that. And obviously this year is going to be a different scenario, when you post a score like I did today, you're kind of out of the tournament already. I was out of the tournament after kind of the first hole today. So that's disappointing.

But it's okay. Tomorrow I'll go out and try to play a little bit better and take it in and see what happens.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: I think the fact that I lowered my expectations, you know, more than anything else, that's probably what happened. Because when people least expect it, that's when it happened for me. So more or less just lowering my expectations and certainly my relationship with Tiger Woods was a huge plus for me, being around him made me a better player.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK O'MEARA: I did. I did. Yeah.

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