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March 7, 2009

Mark O'Meara


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Mark, 66 today equals a low rounds of day. At 133, -9 you and Bernhard are tied for the lead. General thoughts about the round, and then we'll go through the hole by hole.
MARK O'MEARA: My general thoughts were that I played pretty solid today. Obviously better today than yesterday. I hit a lot of fairways. You know, and the backside I played really solid.
I mean, it's nice to be playing a little bit better. I wasn't overly confident, but I was somewhat confident in what I'm doing. On Tuesday this week I went to the Titleist Test Center, the TPI down in Carlsbad. Larry Bobka, who kind of is their guru down there that fits all the players.
I just hadn't been on the launch monitor for the while. I hit drives with my driver, and they said, Wait a minute. I'm like, What? He's like, Well, your spin rate is way off. It's too high. I was like, What do you mean? He said, You ball is kind of going out there like somebody could catch it, you know. It doesn't have any go on it.
I was like, I didn't know that. My balls always have a lot mud on it and it's not really going. He said, Just give me 45 minutes and let me try a couple shafts and a couple different drivers. So he put like two or three drivers in my hand, and I think the second or third driver he put in my hand, the shaft and the head, and all of a sudden the spin rate was right and the ball was going.
He said, Okay, this is the club you need to be playing with. I was like, really? And he was, Oh, yeah. So sure enough, he built me a new driver and a new 3-wood and a new rescue club, and those are the three clubs that are in my bag. My driving -- the ball is getting out there now for a change, so it's a little more fun.
I played solid like I said. You know, certainly starting off making the eagle again on 3, I hit a nice drive on 3. I hit a 3-iron to maybe about 12, 14 feet, which was a really nice shot, and made that for eagle.
We get to 2-under and then I parred around and actually made a good two-putt on No. 8. I had about a 30-footer for birdie and ran it by about 12 feet or something and made it coming back. So that was a good save.
I had some birdie putts and didn't make them, and then I birdied 11 with a rescue club off the tee and a sand wedge to maybe 12, 14 feet, and made that for birdie.
Birdie on 15 was a good drive and a 3-iron just off the right edge of the green, and chipped it to about a foot and a half and made that for birdie.
18 another good drive. I hit my rescue club to maybe 45 feet or something and ran it right over the edge for eagle. So, you know, it's nice to be 9-under and be in a position to play in the final group tomorrow with Bernhard and Eduardo. You know, I mean, there's a lot of guys in the mix. I understand I'm tied for the lead and that's a great thing.
But there's only really one time I want a really good lead, to be honest with you. I mean, I've been doing this a long time, and it's been a little bit of a rough ride last year the way I played like I told you guys when I was in here yesterday.
I've got to go out there and play really well tomorrow to win this thing. There's still a lot of work to be done. Hopefully I can play well tomorrow and give myself a chance coming down the stretch. That's all you can ask for.

Q. Mark, you were in this situation last year at the AT&T.
MARK O'MEARA: It was '07.

Q. Sorry. Was there anything that you learned from that that you can apply to tomorrow?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I think I just have to be patient with myself. I can only control me. I can't what control Bernhard and Eduardo and what anybody else in the field does.
It has been a while since I won, obviously. I mean, '04 in Dubai was the last time I won. I did win the Par-3 contest in Augusta two years ago, but we won't go there. So it has been a while.
But, listen, my career -- I mean, I've been very blessed and I've had a great ride. But I feel like I'm in better shape right now than I've been in a while physically. I want it. I want to play well. Certainly there's going to be a little bit of emotion and a little bit of nerves. I mean, that's typical. I can't tell you any time I've played where I haven't had a little bit of that.
But I do know that I'm producing better shots out there. I do know I hit some good putts that could have gone in today and didn't. Confidence doesn't happen overnight. It's a slow process, a building. I'm in the process of rebuilding it and trying to get my swing to where I can compete and have a little bit more self-belief in myself.
I believe that if I feel good over and it I believe that I am going to do it, I can do it. We'll see what happens out there tomorrow.

Q. Two part question in relation to TPI: Can you talk a little bit more about your equipment changes.
MARK O'MEARA: Sure. I was playing the old driver, the 909 -- you know, I don't know all these numbers. 909D2 or -- it was about two and a half years old. It wasn't the new driver. I used the Fujikura shaft that I been using for like four or five years. It was like an S Flex. I remember playing with John Cook at home, and he's using the Diamana shaft. You know, he's like, You ought to use this. It's a little stiffer. I'm like, I don't even swing at it that hard. I mean, I'm like 52.
So when I was down there, you know, literally I hit two drives, and they were pretty good drives on the launch monitor and TrackMan. First thing Larry Bobka said was like, Hey, not good. I'm like, What, my swing? And he was like, Well, I think your swing is all right, but I mean, the ball is going out like this. It's launching okay. The ball speed is actually pretty good. It was like 160, which is on the high end.
But your spin rate is so high that, you know, your ball is going out, and when it's coming down it's just going... He was like, Do you have a lot of mud on your ball, the ball doesn't roll much out there? I'm like, No. It seems like it's always spinning. But I never really blame my equipment, it's usually always me.
He was like, Look, I'm telling you, just give me 15 minutes, like I said. He put a couple drives together, because they have a lot of drivers there with different shafts. He put a Diamana shaft and kind of a gray one, I don't even know the name of it. I started hitting, and the new driver, the 909 -- I don't know what the new driver's called. Whatever. It's nine and a half or something and about nine degrees.
All of a sudden, the ball speed was the same and the launch was the same, but the ball spin came down to like 2,400 to 2,500, 2,600. He said, Now your ball is going like this, and it's coming down like this. So when it hits the ground it's not like flying lower, it just had a better trajectory on the downward fly so when it hits the ground it's going to release.
Sure enough, you saw where some of my drives were. I wouldn't have hit it like that the last two years, two and a half years. I'm not blaming my equipment. I'm blaming my lack of knowledge of thinking that it's always me and my swing. Maybe it is a little bit me and my swing. But you know what? Now I've got a good driver in there and the right shaft in there, so that helps me get the ball out there and be a little more competitive.

Q. How many yards would you say that you gained?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, this week, you know, it seems like -- they said down there it was like 18. That's how much no-roll I was getting. This week it seems like the ball is going 30 yards further when I hit a good one. The golf course is playing fast out there now, and it's good when it plays like that. It's a big difference.

Q. You said you're in really good shape now. Have you been using any like TPI...
MARK O'MEARA: No, I've just been in the gym working out aerobically and lifting a little bit more. Not going psycho by any means. I'm a little more committed and in the gym a little more. Can I lose a few more pounds? Yeah. But I think I'm in better shape than I've been in a while.

Q. In addition to the new equipment, the work with Hank Haney, has that been...
MARK O'MEARA: I think it has. Hank is a wonderful teacher. Really hadn't worked with Hank in the last three or four years. Nothing about Hank. He's always been a close friends of mine. He was busy with Tiger. I wasn't really working with anybody for about five years, and then I worked with Mike Abbott for about two and a half years. I think Mike helped me a little bit.
But going through my personal stuff off the course, you know, guys kind of know what I've gone through. That was a distraction. Mentally I was flustered there. Then my confidence and not hitting it good, whatever. Then I hooked back up with Hank in December, so he's been helping me. You know, Mike Abbott still watches me a little bit, a guy named Bruce Davidson down at River Oaks in Houston when I'm living in Houston has been helping me a lot.
So listen, if you guys want to come out on the range and help me a little bit, I'm willing to listen to you guys, too. I mean, I'm willing to try anything. I want to play better, and I'm willing to make the commitment. I have put in a lot of hours in the last six months, I would say, of practicing, even in the off-season this year. So it's nice to see some progression in the right direction.

Q. What family and friends are here today?
MARK O'MEARA: You know, a lot people that I grew up with were out there today. My father-in-law was out there today. Just a lot of high school people, a lot of people pulling for me just from the standpoint that I grew up here in Orange County, down the road in Mission Viejo, playing high school matches on this course.
It would be really sweet to be able to play well tomorrow and have the opportunity to get a win. I know that Bernhard is a tough competitor, and Eduardo has played well. There's guys that have been playing well. I got to go out and do what I can do, and hopefully it's going to be good enough. We'll try.

Q. Do you feel like it's more important now to really be on the ball with your physical fitness?
MARK O'MEARA: I think so. I think stamina, it helps you just as much physically as mentally. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. I could be in better shape. It helps me mentally out on the golf course being more physically fit.

Q. Was your son, Shaun here, too?
MARK O'MEARA: No, he left today because he qualified and he's -- they're driving up to Fresno.
He hasn't been playing that well the last really two years, but he's starting to come around a little bit. I think I've been around the game long enough to recognize talent. I understand he's my son and sometimes we can be biased about our own children. But I told my son when he started playing when he was like 14 or 15 in the Father/Son I said, Look, I don't mean to put the whammy on you, but you have as much or more talent than I ever had at his age. But the players are good.
Shaun I think is a very talented player and he could be as good as he wants to be. But his level of commitment is a little different than what I had. I had a Volkswagon Rabbit, you know. I mean, I don't know what to say. I started with nothing.
Were not that my kids don't have a lot. They've got a lot. They've got a nice lifestyle. Sometimes the dedication and the desire and the drive is not what it needs to be to be playing the level he wants to be playing at.

Q. Do you tell him anything now, or just a hands-off approach?
MARK O'MEARA: No, I mean, I try to help him. I'm there for him. I love both of my children and I want to the best for them. They're both very good students and I'm proud of them because they act and conduct themselves extremely well.
But if he wants the help I'm there for him, but he's got to be the one. It's just like anyone. Tiger Woods is a great player. Hank Haney is a very nice teacher, but Hank doesn't hit the shots out there, you know.
Sooner or later the player's got to step up and play the game. That's kind of what Shaun needs to do.

Q. The putt on 18 looked like...
MARK O'MEARA: I hit some good ones now. I mean, the one on 14, I mean, I thought I made. You know, I hit an okay putt on 16.
17, you know, the green's a little bumpy.
But certainly the one on 18, you know, I was just trying to get it close. It could have easily gone in but didn't.
On the other hand, to have no bogeys and three birdies, or three birdies and an eagle today, you know, no bogeys, that's very pleasing. I think that's going to be the key tomorrow: No bogeys.

Q. Do you remember the last time you and Langer were paired together?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, when he won in Houston two years ago. I think that was his first win possible in '07 in Houston. You know, he shot 25-under for three rounds and I shot 17-under and finished second. He won here last year and he's the defending champ. He's had success, so I've got -- like I said, when you've done this as long as we've done it, I can only do what I can do. If I play well then I should have a chance. If I don't, maybe next week.

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