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June 2, 2005

Nick O'Hern


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick, thanks for joining us, good round today, 4 under par 68 in your first official Tour round at Muirfield Village. Talk about your day today and your impressions about your first round at the Memorial Tournament.

NICK O'HERN: Actually I shot 5 under, 67, but that's all right. Fantastic. I played nine holes Tuesday and Wednesday and tried to get a feel for the place. It's my first visit and it's a heck of a golf course. You've got to keep the ball in the fairway and you've got to leave the ball below the hole basically, and if not, you're going to make a lot of bogeys out there. I was fortunate to do both. I played nicely. I think I was 2 under the front nine and 3 under the back nine and no bogeys, so I can't complain.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about your season in the United States. You did really well at the WGC Accenture Match Play. Overall you feel comfortable here?

NICK O'HERN: It's been a pretty solid year. I think I played five or six events here and played well. The match play, I got to the quarter finals there and I managed to play my first Bay Hill, TPC, Masters, all the first go's. I'm trying to get a feel for thing over here at the moment. I'm pretty much based in Europe this year and going back and forth, so I'm playing a bit of an Ernie Els' schedule, I guess, but without the private jet.

Q. This course has a reputation of being a bit of a long hitters' paradise. Do you agree with that assessment?

NICK O'HERN: Yeah, from what everyone tells me it plays pretty soft, but they're running in the fairways today which plays into my hands. I could see why it would be a bombers' paradise when it gets a bit wet and a bit soft. Today you really had to think your way around and leave yourself below the hole because if you miss the greens, the rough is just so hard to control the ball out of that. You've got to hit good shots and leave yourself uphill putts, and as I said, I pretty much did that today. If the weather stays like it is I don't think the course will play long.

Q. Was today a continuation of the last couple of weeks?

NICK O'HERN: I played pretty solid. I shot 64 on Sunday at the BMW in England and played really well there. I didn't strike the ball as well today, but I got around. That's what it's all about. But my putting was really good today, and on these greens, they're just so pure. If you get the ball started on line it's going to go in the hole.

Q. You say Ernie Els' schedule without the jet. What is travel like? What's your schedule like?

NICK O'HERN: Well, I'm here for the week and then I go back to England for a week off and then I'm coming back for the U.S. Open and Westchester, then I go back to England for a couple weeks and then I come back for a couple weeks. A lot of Transatlantic stuff, but I'm enjoying it and I'm trying to get a feel for the Tour over here. I've done pretty solidly and trying to get my bearings at the moment.

Q. At what point did you go to the long putter in your career? What were the circumstances to doing that?

NICK O'HERN: Right when I turned pro, I've been probably using it about ten years now. It's been a long time. I tried it as just a bit of a change to begin with. I was going through a bad patch as most people do. I saw an Australian golfer named Peter Senior using one, and thought I'll give it a go and never went back.

Q. Did you think the pin positions were pretty tough for a Thursday round?

NICK O'HERN: It was a good combination of pins. There were some tough ones out there, but I think you have to expect it when the course is in this good a condition, if they put the pins in the center of the greens the guys are just going to eat it up. They do need to tuck the pins away to make the scores, I guess, a little bit higher than what they're hoping for. The guys are really good players out here. I played pretty well to shoot 5 under, and I'm sure someone is going to go a lot lower today. I think you'll find the pins will probably be tucked away even more as the week goes on.

Q. Is it harder to make adjustments as far as when people see shorter putters, there are a lot more of them than longer putters. Have you switched putters from one long putter to a different long putter or do you use the same kind?

NICK O'HERN: In ten years I've probably had four long putters. When Ping brings a new one out I'll try it and if I like it I'll put it in the bag. I've done that about four times, I guess. If I find something I like, I'll stick with it. I've had this one for a few years now, and they've given me a few other ones to try, but I'm pretty happy.

When it gets windy, it gets a little tough with the long putter, so I've been known to put a short putter in the bag when it gets windy, but I'm always chicken to bring it out.

Q. Having not been here before what had you heard about this tournament before you came and has it matched those expectations?

NICK O'HERN: Yeah, everyone said it's about as good as it gets over here, and they're not wrong. Everything is just done to perfection. The golf course is everything I expected. Jack is a heck of a course designer, and he really tests you out on a lot of the holes out there.

But as far as the tournament itself, you just get spoiled rotten over here. It's fantastic.

Q. How much running or notoriety or visibility did you get out of beating Tiger?

NICK O'HERN: Back in Australia it obviously was quite a big deal. Over here people say "There's the guy who beat Tiger." I'm not sure they know my name (laughter). At the time to me I was just playing an opponent and trying to beat them. It happened to be Tiger Woods. So I went on to another match and won that one and so on. Probably back in Australia it meant a little bit more than over here I would say.

Q. How about you yourself, though? Is it really just another opponent?

NICK O'HERN: Yeah, pretty much, on the day it was. I think a couple weeks later, when I looked back on it, it was pretty cool, I beat Tiger. At the time I was just playing someone else. I never really watched my opponent. It's just a justification that I'm doing all the right things and my game is getting better.

Q. Jack has made it a point to have a lot of international players in this field. Does it feel different than other tournaments in America field wise or are you more comfortable here because of that?

NICK O'HERN: The events I've played I've got in through Top 50 ranking in the world so I've seen a lot of the international players in a lot of the events I've played anyway, so it's a similar feel. It has that major feel about it, and I guess I've played TPC and Augusta, as well, and now this event and a few others, and they're all quality fields and you've got to play really well just to make the cut over here, that's for sure.

Q. Since you have not been here before, why did you play just nine hole practice rounds?

NICK O'HERN: I'm not a big practicer. I just figured, well, nine holes Tuesday, nine holes Wednesday is fine by me, I just need one look at the course, and I try and save my energy because I tend to get tired as the week goes on.

Q. Did you fly here Monday?

NICK O'HERN: I got in Monday, yes, so it took a couple days to get over the jet lag. This morning I was about right.

Q. Have you met Jack yet?

NICK O'HERN: I haven't, no. It would be great to play with him or just to meet him. It would be fantastic. Hopefully I'll get a chance before the week is out.

Q. You've never bumped into him anywhere?

NICK O'HERN: No. He keeps avoiding me (laughter).

Q. A lot of guys probably wouldn't do the pond hopping that you're doing leading up to a major championship. I'm wondering, are you going back next week to play in a European Tour event?

NICK O'HERN: I'm having a week off. Originally I was meant to play in Wales this week, but I changed my schedule late and came across here instead, and at the time I've got my wife and baby and it was too much to do to everyone to come over for four weeks. So she stayed home with our baby, and I'm going back and forth. But I'm used to flying forever coming from Australia. We're flying all the time, so it's no big deal.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go over your five birdies, starting on No. 5, the par 5.

NICK O'HERN: Yeah, No. 5, I hit a 5 wood to 30 feet and two putted for birdie. That was nice.

7, par 5, I hit a sand iron to eight feet, made it.

13, par 4, actually it was an interesting one. I hit it up the face of the bunker and hit a 5 wood to about eight feet from 180 meters. That was a strange one, and I made that putt, so birdie there.

16, hit a 4 iron to five feet.

The last, hit a 6 iron to it was about 15 feet.

Q. Any saves, any dicey situations you got yourself out of?

NICK O'HERN: Yeah, the only real save today was the 10th hole. I drove it in the rough, had to pitch it back out and then I hit a wedge to the back edge to about 20 feet and holed that for par. That was about the only time it looked like I was making bogey all day. Other than that, I was on the fringes or on the greens basically and just two putted all day.

Q. Did you learn were you in trouble in your practice rounds, or did it just seem that this course set up well for you from the getgo?

NICK O'HERN: Pretty much set up well. If it gets soft out here, I'm one of the shorter hitters out here, so I need the run to get the extra distance to have the irons in. I mean, that 17th hole, that green is a tough green to come into with a 3 or a 4 iron, and today I hit a great drive and hit 5 iron, and I imagine the longer hitters will probably be hitting 8 or 9 iron. Hopefully we won't get any rain and we'll go from there. If we do, I'll have to figure out another way to shoot low.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick O'Hern, thanks. Good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts.

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