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MONTREAL CHAMPIONSHIP


June 21, 2012


Mark O'Meara


SAINTE-JULIE, QUEBEC

DAVE SENKO:  Thanks for joining us.  I know you were talking about your injury, maybe you can catch us up on things.
MARK O'MEARA:¬† Yeah, thanks Dave.¬† It was difficult, last certainly three and a half months, I haven't been able to play.¬† Pulled out of Augusta in April.¬† I had ‑‑ let's put it this way, best I can explain, I have a tear in my cartilage in the back rib cage, right around the 12th rib, which your last rib in the back and it's a floating rib.
I pulled out of Augusta and I have not really played since.¬† And I tried a couple of times.¬† I tried in Houston, because it was my hometown, but I played one hole in the Pro‑Am and had to pull out.¬† I tried a couple of times in Houston because it was my hometown, played one hole in the Pro‑Am and had to pull out.¬† Kind of hanging low and I set my sights to obviously play here in Montr√©al and was looking forward to it.
I practiced a little late last week, waited until Thursday and Friday last week in park city and I practiced there and I was pain‑free, and I was at the U.S. Open on the weekend doing some stuff for Lexus.¬† I played on Monday and I was pretty good Monday and I made the call certainly to come here and play.
Today on the range I was a little bit iffy.¬† I wasn't great but I wasn't awful.¬† As the day progressed on the golf course in my Pro‑Am, it progressively got worse to where if I competed tomorrow, I would be playing at 80 percent or 75 percent, and I just‑‑ it's a very frustrating injury and it's one that there's not a lot of blood flow.
There's no perfect analysis of how to fix something like this.  The doctors have all told me that unfortunately, it just takes time.  And a lot of times when you're younger, four to six to seven weeks, you can get through it, you know, this has been about 11 or 12 weeks for me, and you know, I'm not 100 percent.  I'm not pain free out there on the golf course.  I can go out there and gimp it around but I've decided it's not in my best interests right now.  I told the guys I was going to have to withdraw, which is never any fun.  Very disappointing, because I love to play golf, and it's what I do for 32 years.
This injury has been one that when you‑‑ there's no perfect rehab.¬† The only rehab is just to leave it alone and do nothing.¬† I'm not real good at doing nothing.¬† I've got to be doing something, and when I can't hit golf balls or I can't play golf, you know, I'm driving my wife nuts at home, and driving myself a little bit nuts.
So it looks like I don't really know when I'll be able to play again.¬† So I'll just have to wait and see.¬† So until I can play four rounds at home pain‑free, going at it pretty full bore, there's no sense in trying to keep doing what I did this week.
By the way, the course is really nice out there, really nice.

Q.  Are you doing any therapy on it or is it just total rest?
MARK O'MEARA:¬† It really is.¬† It's a little frustrating because I have some of the best physical therapists in the U.S., Russ Paine in Houston, he's training Adrian Peterson in the off‑season.¬† He works with all of the Astros and the Texans; and I saw the Texas Rangers; orthopaedic surgeon and I've seen the best orthopaedic guys in Houston.¬† It's a great medical facility city.¬† And all of them have said, I tried once about a month and a half, two months ago to get some injections, thinking that would calm it down.¬† That really didn't work.
I've tried heat, stim, therapy, massaging, beating it up, all of that doesn't seem to work.  What really seems to help the most is do nothing.  I know that sounds crazy but cartilage is an interesting tissue, because there's not a lot of blood flow to cartilage whatsoever.
So the healing process, it doesn't heal as quickly.  And then like I said earlier, when you're 25 to 35, your body heals, like the Texas guy that takes care of the Texas Rangers told me, I see this with a lot of baseball players, I see this with a lot of basketball players, I see this with a lot of hockey players, they tear the cartilage in their rib cage and different areas.
I've done it before in my sternum area, but it seemed to heal pretty quickly and I was out for like four weeks or something, three or four weeks.  But this area, the lower bottom right back, and it's not like I have a bad back.  My lower back feels fine.
But my rib and the muscle that attaches under the 12th rib there, I can hit some shots, it's not like a shooting pain but I might just be walking a certain way and turning a certain way and it's like, wham, feels like somebody took a knife and jammed it in there.
The last guy just said, you know, what you have to wait until you're 100 percent, when you start back, start back slow, maybe I didn't start back as slow as I needed to.  Maybe I should have waited another week and then tried to play next week.
But you know, I think it's at a point now where it would be best in my interests to just totally wait until it's a hundred percent and I know I can play without any pain.

Q.¬† There is in no waya career ‑‑
MARK O'MEARA:  I hope not.  Even though I'm 55 I still think I can hit it pretty it decent.  I plan on still playing a few more years.
It's disappointing this year.  I really have not played much golf this year.  Basically played a couple of tournaments early in the year and played in Dubai and played all right there, and then Mississippi.  Other than, that I mean, I've really competed in three or four tournaments this year, that's it.
So I've been pretty injury‑free through my career.¬† I haven't had that many injuries, so it's been a little frustrating, mentally just as much as anything else.

Q.  Talk about the disappointmentof withdrawing here. 
MARK O'MEARA:  I know, I hate to do it, trust me.  I wouldn't have flown all the way here if I thought I was going to have this issue.  I was coming here with high hopes and expectations of competing.  I knew I wouldn't be 100 percent because I haven't played much to be honest with you, so I would certainly be rusty, but I was hoping that this would be the start of a building process of starting to play well again and playing on the Champions Tour.
You know, the Canadian golfers and Canadians in general have been so great to me, and being a former Open Champion down at Glen Abbey and my passion for Canada, is really high.  I love Canada very much, and so it's very disappointing for me, and certainly I know the tournament.  I hate to let the tournament down.  I don't like to let anybody down.
But when you're not‑‑ like I said I wouldn't have made the trip up here if I didn't think I was going to try to give it an effort, and I did.¬† I played 18 holes today and I enjoyed playing with my amateur partners.¬† They were great guys.¬† I know the tournament has had a few withdrawals in the last week but that has no bearing on how great of a tournament this is and can be and will be.¬† This week there's still a lot of great players in the tournament and this golf course is great.¬† I enjoyed playing it.¬† I thought it was in great shape.¬† Just wish I was feeling 100 percent and I could go.
I think it's a really wonderful golf course because it's a good driving course, it's going to come down to who drives it pretty straight.  And then the greens are in good shape; so like any tournament, putting is going to be a key element.
The last couple of years, I haven't played obviously but I know they have gotten great fan support and I think this week should be no exception.

Q.  I would like to have your opinion of the last U.S. Open with very high scores and all kind of problems.
MARK O'MEARA:  Right.  And only one fairway bunker out there.  Now, I played the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in '87 and'98, because I was the Masters champ when I went there in  '98.
It just goes to show you, you don't have to have a real long golf course to make it tough on these young kids.  But if you grow the rough up and you get the fairways firm and fast and you get the greens firm and fast, the guys just had a hard time with it.
What made Olympic difficult is there's a lot of doglegs at Olympic, and the fairway slopes opposite the doglegs, so the actual hitting area in the fairway might be if you hit the ball correctly, if you cut it against a right‑to‑left slope and you can hold it in the fairway; but if it's straight or drawing, the area where you can land your ball is very, very small.
And with the greens small and the rough deep, the guys can't control it, and that's what made it so difficult.

Q.  Do you enjoy that?
MARK O'MEARA:¬† I do.¬† I thought it was very difficult.¬† When I played there in '98, I shot‑‑ coming off the Masters, when I was plus 17, finished 32nd, or something like that.¬† I think over par won that.
The USGA likes even par to be a good score.  I don't have any problem with that.  Yeah, it's kind of different.  It's nice.  It challenges the guys mentally just as much as physically.

Q.¬† But the scores ‑‑
MARK O'MEARA:  And it was wet, too.  When it's wet, the course is soft.  The young players, as far as they hit the ball, they can get it around.
The display that Rory put on last year was amazing, but maybe that's what's good about golf is to be able to have a bit of variety in golf, and make the pros think a little bit.  That's what they had to do last week.  They had to think about what they were doing around Olympic, and that's the only way you're going to challenge them.
You're not going to challenge them by making golf courses longer.  You're going to challenge them by making golf courses more sophisticated, you might say, more pinpoint accuracy.  You can hit driver, but if you don't hit your driver straight, you ain't going to be able to just play the next shot.  You have to be accountable for the shots you hit and that's what Olympic was last week.

Q.  Can you tell us about the nature of the injury?  We got in late?
MARK O'MEARA:  I'm not quite sure exactly how I did it.  I wish I could.  I wish I could tell you that I did something in the gym or I hit a certain shot or I lifted something.  It's been an injury that I had, it started coming on the week before the Masters.
I had therapy there at home in Houston.  I practised a lot.  It was more, it felt like a muscle strain in my lower right, and then I went to Augusta and played practise rounds.  I played 18 on Sunday prior to Augusta, and I hit it good but I was hurt and I played nine with Tiger on Monday and Wednesday, and I wasn't doing that well.
Then by Thursday, hitting balls on the range prior to teeing off, you know, it just progressively got worse to where it felt like somebody was taking a knife and basically sticking it, not in my lower back, but more in my lower rib area.
And so I made the call to pull out there.  I didn't think it was fair to tee off and play two or three holes and walk in, I don't like to do that.
So I withdraw from Augusta, and unfortunately I haven't been able to play since.¬† So it's been almost three months.¬† I was hoping when I got here, when I hit balls on Thursday pretty pain‑free out in Park City, and Friday; and then Monday, I played down in Houston when I was home.¬† I flew home Sunday from the U.S. Open and was in Houston on Monday and practised there, and I was pretty good.
I thought I was good to go.¬† And then on Tuesday, I hit some more balls ‑‑ and I'll never forget, I was on the putting green putting against the pro that's been helping me, Bruce Davis the pro at River Oaks there in Houston, and I made a long one and kind of jumped and got my arms up in the air and I felt like a little stick, and I'm like, oh, gosh, what am I doing, I'm not 28 anymore.
Then I went to hit some more balls just to see and sure enough it was bothering me.¬† I hope that just not doing much yesterday and then hitting ball this is morning on the range before I teed off, it wasn't a lot of pain but still it wasn't‑‑ you could tell, I was restricting my turn and I wasn't quite right.
Then playing with my guys today, even my caddie is like, you're not doing too good, are you.  I'm like, well, I'd like to be a tough guy and say, yeah, I could weather through it.  I think I could go out and play tomorrow but to be honest with you, I think I would be 80 percent, 75 or 80 percent and at 55 years of age, if it's one of those injuries that's lingering and lingering, it's not going to get better.  I keep thinking if I play, I can play through this, but I don't see that sign.  If anything, it gets worse as the day goes on.
So I just made the call that on the third‑to‑last hole, I said, you know, I just‑‑ I don't think I can go.
So, you know it was a long trip.  That's a big trip for me to come all the way up here and try to play and then realize I've got to pull out now.  So I'm not real happy about it to be honest with you but it's something that I've been dealing with so it's not the end of the world.

Q.  Do you feel that Tiger is closer to where he wants to be?
MARK O'MEARA:  I think he's close.  You know, he has signs I think of getting back.  It looks like he's more comfortable on the golf course.  I know he didn't play well on the weekend last weekend.  I thought he would.  I felt like he had every chance to winning.  I would have bet my money on that he was going to win.  Certainly he didn't get off to a good start Saturday nor Sunday the first six, seven holes.  Those are the holes that seem to eat the guys' lunch there at Olympic.
Tiger, he's an unbelievable competitor.  He's the most gifted athlete I think that's ever played our game, and he's won twice already this year.  I know that majors are really what he's focusing on and every major that goes by probably just puts a little more pressure on him. 
I don't know, I mean, he's still pretty young.  I know he's had some injuries and everything, but he's still talented enough to win major championships.  He'll just regroup and try to get ready for Lytham.
DAVE SENKO:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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