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July 30, 2011

Mark O'Meara


DAN HUBBARD: We have Mark O'Meara with us. Mark, today a round of 66, 2-under on the front, three birdies and 1 bogey, if you could walk us through those, please.
MARK O'MEARA: Sure, the first birdie came at No. 4. I hit a good drive down the fairway into the fairway and hit a 3-iron from about 216, I guess I was, the par-5, and hit it about 12 feet, 10 feet for eagle. Missed that, tapped it in for birdie.
The bogey on the next hole, I drove it good and pulled a 3-iron in the left bunker, had a long bunker shot blasted to about 12 feet, missed it. Then I parred around until No. 8 and I drove it in the left rough. Laid up with an 8-iron and hit a sand wedge to about 14 feet, made that for birdie.
9, I hit a good drive and a 9-iron to about 5 feet, made that for birdie. 15, the par-3, I hit a good 4-iron to about 14 feet, made that for birdie. 17, driver and a 6-iron to about 15, 16 feet, made that for birdie.
Then 18, rescue club and a 53-degree sand wedge to about, I don't know, 12 or 14 feet and made that for birdie. So overall it was a nice way to finish.

Q. You said on No. 4, 216?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, to the pin.

Q. Okay. Are you a little bit surprised at all that in the third round of the National Open, Major Championship for senior golf that they would actually dial the course back a little bit when it is as vulnerable as it is? They played it under 7,000 yards today.
MARK O'MEARA: Well, we're seniors (laughing).

Q. You're pretty good seniors.
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, well, I think the USGA does a good job, personally. I know that over the years -- I like the fact that they vary the tee positions to where it's not always the same. You're not walking on every tee and it's, okay, it's within 10 yards difference. Move a couple tees up, move a couple tees back. I imagine tomorrow they'll be back.
So on a day like today where there wasn't much wind and the greens are still holding, it's nice to get a good score under your belt. But in saying that, this golf course requires driving the ball on the fairway and then you've got to be accurate with distance control with your iron play, then you've got to make the putts.
Certainly Olin and I made a lot of nice putts. He made some nice putts, he made some good birdies there on the back side, made a couple of nice putts after I made the putt, so we kind of fed off each other.

Q. The word's not frustrating, I guess, you're playing well, you're putting up a good score. But I think three times he drops in a birdie putt right on top of yours. Were there times when you thought, hey, maybe I can get back in this but he keeps dropping them in on you?
MARK O'MEARA: That's okay. The way I look at it golf is a game where you're trying to do the best that you can personally do, hit good shots, you make a birdie.
I've always been a player that respects my fellow players out there. Olin's a friend. He's a very good player. He showed that out there today, and I know he'll be tough tomorrow because he hits it straight. I know he's a good iron player. Short game, he doesn't get too far ahead of himself, not too far behind, and like yo said, he made the putts. It was kind of fun feeding off of him.
I look at it if I play my best and I come out on top, great. If I play my best and I don't, I'm willing to shake the guy's hand that does win. So it's all right.

Q. (No microphone).
MARK O'MEARA: I think it's important for me to hit the ball on the fairway off the tee. If I do that, then I'll play well. To win any tournament, whether it's a major championship, Champions Tour event, whatever it is, you've got to putt well. You're going to have to make some putts and try to eliminate big mistakes.

Q. You're 4 shots ahead of the guys in third place, Olin is six shots ahead. How much is this a two-horse race now or do you think somebody can come back from the field?
MARK O'MEARA: You just can't count out these guys that are 9-under par. Olin's been playing well, and hopefully I can play well. If we do, okay, fine. But if we let up a little bit out there, those guys are going to try to free will it a little bit.
It's a golf course that if you get it going, yeah, you can shoot some good scores, but it's going to be a lot how they set it up there.

Q. The experience of playing with Olin today, you guys are going to be paired again tomorrow. How much does today carry over to tomorrow or is tomorrow a whole new day?
MARK O'MEARA: It's a whole new day tomorrow. But like I said, and I think Olin feels the same way, we enjoy playing with each other. Certainly trying to do the best I can, and if I'm not doing it and he's hitting good shots, I'm fine with that. That's just who I am. So I always will wish him the best.
If he goes out there and plays well and if I play well, we'll have to see what happens coming down the stretch.

Q. If I remember from observation and talking with you back in the meat of your PGA TOUR career, the U.S. Open in those days had the strangling rough right off the fairways. If you missed fairways in those days, you didn't miss by much. A much different scenario, am I correct in that recollection?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, I think Mike Davis has done a good job. I saw it at Torrey Pines when we played the Open there two or three years ago. I think what they're doing is the right thing. Because I think a player who just barely misses the fairway by a yard shouldn't be as penalized as bad as someone who missed it by 8 to 10 yards. That's why the graduated rough came into play.
It still can be challenging because you can't control your ball flight as well, and the greens are small here at Inverness, so it is still a premium to drive on the fairway. But you can still play a shot out of the rough, which is good.

Q. In your particular case, when you were a player that missed, you didn't miss by much. You were sort of victimized by that type of set-up, right?
MARK O'MEARA: It cost me there at Brookline, and I drove it a foot through the fairway on the right side on 18 and made bogey. If I make par or birdie, I'm in the playoff with Nick and Curtis. So, yeah, it did cost me over the years, but I needed to learn to drive the ball straighter too.

Q. Do you have a preference either way playing from behind or playing holding the lead going into the final day?
MARK O'MEARA: Not really. I'll be nervous, I'll be trying to do my best. I always am. That's part of being a competitor golfer. When you've done it 31 years, I realize I've had a lot of success, but there's been times where I played really well and I haven't come out on top too, you know.
I'm willing to accept whatever happens out there tomorrow, but I'd like to go out there and play well, for sure.

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