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May 29, 2010

Mark O'Meara


KELLY ELBIN: Mark O'Meara, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 67, 5-under par today and 4-under par for the Senior PGA Championship through three rounds. Mark is currently three shots behind the leader, Tom Lehman. Mark, congratulations on your round today. Any particular keys as to why you played so well?
MARK O'MEARA: I think it certainly came down to putting. I made a lot of nice putts out there today. I've been practicing pretty hard at home and working on it. I wouldn't say that I would have, could have done all a lot better than what I actually did, because really sometimes when you're out there playing and the wind is switching like it was today, it was pretty tough.
I think certainly the turn around was number 8. I was debating on whether to hit a 5-iron or 6-iron off the tee and then hit a sand wedge and Shane, my caddie's like, you know, I think just hit driver. I'm like, okay.
So fortunately he was right, and I hit a good drive and got the good bounce and rolled up there, almost went in the hole and rolled about eight feet by and made that for eagle.
That kind of jump started me because at the time I was 1-over.
And then hit a good drive on 9, made birdie on 9.
And then the putt from off the front edge on 10.
Playing those three holes in 4-under certainly turned my day around out there.
KELLY ELBIN: Nine 1-putts and then you made putts off the green on 10 as you mentioned and on 17. What were the length of those putts on 10 and 17?
MARK O'MEARA: 10 was probably about 30 feet. 28 feet. Something like that.
17 was about 16, 17 feet.
KELLY ELBIN: Looked like about 15 and a half for a second there.
MARK O'MEARA: It kind of got up there and looked like it was going to hang on the edge, but fortunately it fell in.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.

Q. How much would mean to you to win this golf tournament?
MARK O'MEARA: It would mean a lot. I think at 53 years of age and being a professional golfer for 30 years -- I understand I won earlier this year with Nick Price, but that was a team event. I had a lot of second place finishes out here playing against these guys, and to be honest with you, the guys play so well, so it would be nice. It would be a feather in the cap and would be a great victory.
But there's a lot of work still out there to happen. You can't control what those other guys are doing out there and I got to go out there and play really well tomorrow to try to come out on top.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record Mark's best individual finish was a tie for second this year at the Outback Steakhouse event.

Q. Short par-4s are kind of all the rage the last few years, and this course obviously has a couple of them. You did what you did today on one of them. Can you talk about what that adds to this course and the short par-4s and swings you can have?
MARK O'MEARA: To me that's what's been lacking in the game. I understand that today's modern era the game is about power and the players are all hitting the ball so far, but I don't think you combat that by lengthening golf courses. I think that the thing that really comes into play when you think about great holes in golf, the majority of great holes in golf are some of the shortest holes in golf that create an atmosphere to where a player's got to think.
There's not a lot of thought process going in on a 500 yard par-4. But there is a left thought process going in on a 300 yard par-4 where you could hit 6-iron or 4-iron or 4-wood, 3-wood, driver. And to me the challenge to the players, especially not only just the veteran players that we have out here, but the young players in the game, I believe that you need to have more holes like that. Holes like you have here at 18 and certainly 14. I drove it pin high there today too.
But if you miss and you miss on the wrong side, I mean, you could make a 2, you could make a 6 real quickly.
So to me that's the great thing about this golf course. I think Ben did a nice job, there's a lot of change of elevation out there. It was very difficult with the wind really swirling around today. We stood and waited on 14 and the wind came three different directions before we hit.
So there is a little bit of a guessing game trying to calculate how far the ball is going out there, let alone with the wind. So today to certainly it was good to get a good score.

Q. Kind of stole a little of what I was going to just ask you. The wind has been such a factor this week, can you compare the conditions today with say maybe yesterday and Thursday; and also you mentioned the altitude when you factor that in along with the wind, does it make it that much more difficult?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, and then the change of elevation. Not just the fact that we're at 6,000 feet or whatever and the ball's going 10 to 12 percent further, there are a lot of uphill and downhill shots, quite dramatic on this golf course.
So and then you throw the wind in, you could hit a shot and it could end up in a lot of different places, let's put it that way. So it does come down to hitting solid golf shots, but controlling your distance is so key. Not only just in golf, but especially here and then putting well.
I came here actually two years ago in the summertime and played here. So I had seen the course before. But it's funny because when I came here it was blowing then too. So I've only, every time I played here it's the wind's been blowing. Today it came a little different direction.
18, I piped a drive and hit an 8-iron where yesterday I hit a good drive and a 9-iron -- or hit 5-iron coming into there today, but 9-iron yesterday. It was into the wind today, the other days it was cross wind.

Q. More difficult today?
MARK O'MEARA: I think it was a more difficult golf course today. I do. I really do. Because the par-5s, 15 was straight into the wind and yesterday the driver and the rescue club or a 3-iron, today hit a driver, knock down 3-iron, and a knock down 8-iron. So it was quite a bit different.

Q. Have you hit driver on 8 this week at all or was that the first time?
MARK O'MEARA: I hit it the first day, hit a good one and it came up short of the green, didn't get the best bounce. Yesterday I laid up. Today I was, I would say I was more tempted to lay up than go for it, but when Shane said, you know, hit driver. I said okay. Luckily I hit a good one.

Q. Where was the wind at that point? At your back?
MARK O'MEARA: It was kind of down and off the left. So it just came off perfectly. Really did. Then when I watched the tape just a minute ago with Jimmy Roberts, it got a nice bounce and rolled right up, almost went in.
So it was good to make that putt. It was a tricky putt because sometimes even on the greens, the wind is a factor on greens too when it's swirling.
KELLY ELBIN: Mark has played the 8th hole at 2-under par through the tournament.

Q. Right now you're tied with Freddie, can you talk about just what he's brought to it this TOUR this year?
MARK O'MEARA: Well certainly Freddie's always been loved in the game of golf. He's been a good draw and certainly to come out here in the Champions Tour and get off to the start that he got off to at first he was probably thinking, oh, you know, do I really want to play? But he's played some phenomenal golf. He really has. Probably as good as he's played pretty much in his career. And I think he said that because I played with him at Newport, he's hitting it 40 by me. So I know he comes with a bad back a lot, but I'm claiming that, I would like to have a bad back and hit it 40 yards by where I hit it, you know.
Bad back seems to be just fine for him.

Q. With the confidence he's playing with how tough will he be tomorrow?
MARK O'MEARA: I think he'll be tough. There's a lot of guys, Tom Lehman is up at the top of the leaderboard, there's a guy that's won a Major Championship. He's won tournaments, he's played on tough courses and won. There's about, there's six or eight or ten guys that if they play good tomorrow can definitely win this tournament.

Q. How many people do you think are in it given what the scores were today, kind of people going up-and-down?
MARK O'MEARA: A lot depends on the wind. If the wind blows then guys can make a move. Like David Frost had a good round today. Certainly my 5-under.
But tomorrow it's going to be manage yourself, be patient, fight hard, just give your self a chance. I would say there's probably, five, six, seven eight guys right around there that can probably win.

Q. Have you had a chance this year to play with Lou at all?

Q. Any impressions on his play? He's kind of a mystery man.
MARK O'MEARA: No, he's very solid. I mean he really hits a lot of nice shots. He shapes it right-to-left, hits some beautiful shots, and he's putted well. The times that I played with him, I think I played with him once and he was, yeah impressive. He hit it a long way too.

Q. I know you got the team win out here, but what's your hunger quotient if you will for winning on this TOUR?
MARK O'MEARA: Any time you play whether it's here, anywhere I play in the world, certainly my pride comes into play. I feel like after playing professional golf for 30 years and all the positive things that have happened in my life on the golf course I feel pretty blessed. You got, you're talking to a kid that grew up in southern California, at a nice club, but who would have known 30 years later I would still be playing competitive golf and with chances to win.
But there's no question that it would mean a lot to me to play well tomorrow and have a chance to come out on top. But in saying that, I still get fired up, I still get nervous, those things don't go away. So I'm going to have to play well tomorrow and if that happens, it would be a big plus for sure.
KELLY ELBIN: Mark, you hit 32 of 42 fairway, are you pleased with your driving so far.
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, I've got a new driver in the bag with a new shaft and my 3-wood and I really like them. I've hit the ball fairly straight. I'm happy that I think that that's important, but the fairways are pretty generous out there.
I just need to be a little more accurate with my irons and try to hit a few more greens. I know that I hit 10, 10, 11 greens, something like that, my short game's kind of come through for me, but tomorrow I need to drive it like that if not better and then certainly hit good iron shots to get the ball pin high.

Q. What driver are you using?
MARK O'MEARA: Using that 909 D 3, it's a new Titleist that came out last year. But I put a new shaft in I was playing a Diamana White Board, which is kind of stiff, but kind of tip stiff a little bit more. And I called Larry at Titleist two weeks ago because I've been off the last three weeks, I said, I drove it well with that driver last year, but I'm not quite sure, can you send me some other stuff. Just because he knows my swing, he knows all my stuff, all my stats. He sent me two different drivers and the shaft that he sent me is a new Diamana shaft, it's a shaft that came out last year, it's a little bit softer in the tip, but for some reason I just fell in love with it, so it's working.
KELLY ELBIN: Mark O'Meara in with 67. Thank you.
MARK O'MEARA: Thank you.

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