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July 18, 2013
LYNN WALLACE: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome
our 1998 Open champion, Mark O'Meara, who scored a 4-under par, 67
today, just one shot off the lead.
You're in a fantastic position going into tomorrow. Can
you tell us about your round today.
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, I mean obviously I'm very pleased.
I hit the ball well today. I missed a couple of fairways, just
drove it just on the edge of the right rough on 9, but was in the first cut. And then I hit two bad drives. Hung it to the right
on 14 and pulled my drive to the left on 15, but other than that I
hit all the fairways, I hit all the greens. My birdies on the
front nine were from a short range. Certainly starting off with
two birdies on the first two holes with a total of about -- I
think I had about a three and a half, four-footer, on the first
hole. And hit it about it three feet on the second hole.
So I guess on the first tee my thought was, look, you
know, I realize I'm 56, but I also realize that I've won The Open
Championship. And I also know that links golf is a little bit
different than playing in the Masters. It's a little bit
different than playing in the U.S. Open. It's a little different
than a PGA. From the standpoint that experience I think plays a
big factor in how guys play. And links golf it's not just about
power, where a lot of the game today is about bombs away, and hit
the ball a long way and play it up in the air.
Links golf is about creativity, shot process, thinking
about where you need to land the ball. And today it was -- I've
heard some of the comments when I was just with the other media
about some of the players, but look, I don't know how many Opens
I've played in, but I think this is about 27, 28, somewhere around
that. I've seen the most horrendous conditions you can think
about playing golf in out there.
But today the wind really didn't blow that hard. I
understand the course is dry. It's firm. It's fast. And the
greens got pretty quick for an Open Championship. But just in my
estimation, I don't know, I mean, I didn't see it being unfair, in
my opinion. So I guess if I had shot 8-over I might come in and
tell you guys it was unfair. But to me I just didn't see that.
So I'm pleased to get off to a good start, and hopefully
I can play well tomorrow morning.
Q. Representing Long Beach State?
MARK O'MEARA: Yes, sir.
Q. 15 years since you've won?
MARK O'MEARA: Right.
Q. Can you do it again, is this something that can go --
MARK O'MEARA: Well, it's motivating to watch what Tom
Watson did at Turnberry. It's motivating to see what Greg Norman
certainly did at Birkdale. Do I think I can? When I play like I
did today, yeah, I think I can. I didn't feel like I was 56 years
old out there; I felt like I was 32.
I'm not saying that one round makes a tournament, because
it doesn't. I've done this many times. I've been here. But it's
nice to have played well. To me I've been playing pretty well
over the last couple of years. I know I was hurt last year for
about four months. But there's times the way I play and I strike
the ball I feel like I actually am a better player now than I was
maybe 15 years ago. I understand I'm not a spring chicken or I
may not putt as good or chip as good or whatever, but the quality
of shots, that I hit out there today I would say, hey, that's as
good as I played when I was in my prime.
So that's what I think makes links golf so much more
enjoyable and so much more what the game of golf should be played
like. And that's why I've always had a passion of playing in The
Open Championship. Knowing that Birkdale is next week down the
road in the Senior Open Championship.
I know I haven't won a lot in the last 10, 11 years of my
career, but I've been close a lot. And I know that sometimes if
you just keep getting close, sooner or later they're going to open
Q. You mentioned the greens. There's been a lot of players
coming in commenting on them, as you said. So much so that The
R&A have commented on it themselves. Do you think they need to do
anything to manage the greens over the next 24 hours or so, given
the weather is going to continue?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I don't know -- I mean, certainly
you probably have to put a little bit of water on them, if there's
no moisture whatsoever and it keeps getting firmer and harder and
baked out. The greens in Open championships and on links golf
courses tend to have a lot more undulation in them. Yeah, I
imagine they've got to take a little bit of a look at it.
I know I teed off at 12:06 today. I was kind of in the
middle of the field. I just didn't see it to where some of the
comments that I saw, and I'm not saying that they're right or I'm
right and they're wrong, I'm just saying that -- trust me, I've
stood on holes where it's 200 yards or 212 and hit driver, and I
could barely hold onto the club and it's freezing raining and
sleeting and cold and I can't put my umbrella up. To me that's
way more miserable than what we had out there. I thought it was
tough, it was challenging, but unfair, I say no. If they think
it's that way, then they need to look at the old man and say, how
did he do it that way? Seriously.
You know, guys are good, they should be able to play in
these conditions. I just didn't see it unfair. Honest to God I
Q. Can I ask you about the young amateur you played with
today, Grant. He was very complimentary towards you about how you
helped to settle him down at the start of his round. Is that
something that you take upon yourself frequently when you're
playing with young kids? And also what did you make of his game?
MARK O'MEARA: First of all, I thought Grant was a fine
young man. Very talented. He hung in there extremely well today.
He battled hard. I think he gained a lot of experience. The kids
the way they play golf today is a lot different than when I was
his age. I couldn't play like he could play.
My philosophy when I'm playing golf is that I want to be
a little bit of a mentor to the younger players. I want to set
the right example. I'm not saying that I'm perfect, but I do
believe that it's my responsibility as a professional golfer to
hopefully conduct myself in the right manner out there on the golf
course, and if I can help a young player become a better player or
move him along in his career, I'm very happy to do that, very
happy to do that.
And I see a bright future for Grant, very much so. Very
mature. He made some good birdies coming in when he needed to.
And I predict that he'll play well again tomorrow.
Q. Do you think you've got a chance of winning? Do you
think anybody else will think you've got a chance of winning? And
if not, does that inspire you even more?
MARK O'MEARA: I hope my wife thinks I've got a chance of
winning, because I'm building a new house (laughter).
I take this with a grain of salt. And I also am
realistic. There will be a little bit more pressure tomorrow,
obviously. But once again, I know my name's -- when I left the
house the other day, it's funny, because I have the Claret Jug at
home and I have a Masters trophy at home. When I travel and I'm
going to be gone for multiple weeks, there's actually three
trophies that mean a lot to me. But those two trophies, I have to
take them out of my trophy case and hide them somewhere in my
house, because I don't want anybody to steal the Claret Jug, and I
don't want anybody to take the Masters trophy.
So when I picked up the Claret Jug the other day to put
it somewhere special in my house, I realized that, you know, no
what matter what happens for the rest of my life, my name is on
that trophy at least one time. Now, whether it will happen again
or not, that would be a dream come true. But knowing that at
least I've won one Open Championship, I take tremendous pride in
that, because to me this is the championship.
Q. What's the trophy you don't care about?
MARK O'MEARA: I care about them all, but those are a
little bit different. I have the U.S. Amateur trophy, too, but I
didn't put that away. It's too big. If someone wants to steal
the U.S. Amateur trophy, they can have it. I just don't want them
to take my Masters trophy or the Claret Jug.
Q. Do you hide them in different places on different trips?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, I move them around a little bit. I
don't want to tell you, because you guys might come in there and
But I just have a great appreciation and a great passion
for this championship, whether I play good or bad. I have
tremendous respect for it. This is the way golf, to me, was
designed to be played. It's the oldest championship. You look at
the names -- I've told this story before, after I won in '98, and
I flew home with Tiger on the way back, I remember Tiger on the
plane home across the Atlantic was like, "Let me see the trophy."
"Okay, I'll show it to you." I take it out of the case and he's
looking at it. And I remember telling Tiger, I said, "I've got to tell me something. I know you came up one shot shy of being in
the playoff, but I will tell you, your name will be on that trophy
more than one time." And here we are, whatever, 15 years later
and his name is on there three times. Who knows what he's going
to do this week.
But it's still a lot of golf to be played, a long way to
go, and hopefully I can keep playing well and hit shots like I hit
Q. Based on some of the comments we've heard today, do you
think younger players do have a tendency to moan more than maybe
in your prime, and does that disappoint you, if that is the case?
MARK O'MEARA: Everybody's personality is different out
there. And I'm not saying that I haven't complained or gotten
upset on the golf course, but I'm not a big fan of guys that get
out there and whine a lot. I mean, I just don't see any reason
for it, especially today's generation. They're so talented, the
players today. And they're playing for so much money.
My feeling is, you look at the volunteers, you look at
the media, look at everything. I mean to show a little bit of
sign of appreciation, to be at the top level of whatever sport
you're in, that requires some responsibility. And that aspect of
it I think players should be more aware of and players need to
hopefully conduct themselves in the right manner on the golf
course, for sure. And when they don't, it does bother me, to be
honest with you.
Q. First of all, thank you for striking a blow for us older
gentlemen out there today.
MARK O'MEARA: One for the old farts.
Q. What's the difference physically and mentally and
competitively between you in 1988 and the Mark O'Meara who played
out there today? And do you have the burning ambition and hunger
to win this tournament?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I have the burning desire to play
well. And wherever that puts me in the event, so be it. But I
think in '98 I was 41. I wasn't hitting the ball well. A lot of
my friends and fellow media people that are here know that. And
my expectations were low. So sometimes when your expectations are
a little lower, it's a little easier to perform because most
people didn't expect Mark O'Meara to win the Masters necessarily
at 41, including myself. A lot of people might not have expected
me to win The Open Championship, but I look at it, I had the
chances in The Open Championship before. I certainly had a chance
in '91, playing with Ian Baker-Finch tied for the lead after three
rounds at Birkdale.
And the fact that throughout my career I tended to be a
low-ball hitter and having success in windy and tougher
conditions. So I always felt if I was going to play well, it
would certainly be in The Open Championship.
I know that today is a good start, and hopefully tomorrow
morning I can get out there and just kind of keep playing and
plugging along, and make some more birdies and see where we go.
Q. You said you didn't feel 56 today; you felt 32. Was
there one hole or one shot where the years fell away?
MARK O'MEARA: No. Certainly like I said earlier, when I
first came in, getting off to a good start is vital pretty much in
any tournament. But you can never get ahead of yourself and you
can never get too far behind. You're going to have to say, kind
of like players say, kind of in the present or in the moment. But
certainly hitting the good shots on 1 and 2 to where I had very
short, makeable birdie putts, and those holes can be, especially
No. 1, can be quite demanding.
And even though I made a couple of bogeys out there
today, it was kind of silly, to be honest with you, on 10, because
I did what you need to do on 10 to make a good score -- I hit a
perfect drive. And I felt good about that. And then missed the
green with a 7-iron from the middle of the fairway, and where I
missed it was pretty bad. It wasn't a very good shot at all.
But I came back and hit some decent shots on 11, 12 and
13. And then 14 driving into the bunker, I can tell I needed
maybe a little something to eat out there, to be honest with you.
I didn't have anything to eat. And I was running out of a little
bit of energy, but fortunately when I hit a good drive on 17 that
kind of gave me the confidence that, hey, I'm in a good position.
I can make birdie, that will get me back to 3-under. 3-under is a
good score today out here. And it came out different than that.
I made the putt for eagle. And certainly hit a good putt on 18
that could have easily gone in.
It's just like I said, it's a nice start, but I've been
doing this a long time and I realize that there's three other
rounds I have to play, and I need to play well those three rounds
to hopefully have a chance on Sunday. Tomorrow is a new day, and
try to get out there and get started and play well.
Q. Apart from the score, what gave you the most pleasure
MARK O'MEARA: There was probably a couple of elements
from the standpoint a lot of the birdies on the front nine. Out
of the five birdies, the longest putt I made was the one on No. 6,
where I had about an 11-footer, all the other birdie putts were
pretty much (indicating), to where you guys could make them and
girls, probably. Unless you move your head, you're going to make
But I'd say the other kind of cool thing was when I was
on the tee on 10, Tiger was walking across to go to the putting
green, and I hadn't seen him. I really haven't seen him since the
Masters, to be honest with you, or haven't spent any time with
him. But he kind of gave me a wink, and I got up and piped my
drive on 10. So when I can pipe my drive on 10 in front of him,
that's a good feeling. He's probably thinking, man, the old man
is like 5-under after 9. How the hell is doing that? I think i
hit squirrelly one here and I piped it. So I was pretty pleased
Q. And whereabouts on the round did the 32-year-old Mark
O'Meara join the 56-year-old?
MARK O'MEARA: I would say just the quality of the iron
strikes that I had today, hitting them the correct distance and
hitting the ball pretty solid. I guess maybe I just didn't feel
that old out there today. And I don't know why. I just didn't.
You guys have days like that, don't you? Don't you feel like
you're 32 once in a while? No, I didn't think so. It's okay,
there's still hope (laughter).
Q. I'm curious, you talk about how much you love this
tournament, how much fun is it to -- especially through the back
nine -- to be able to look at the leaderboard?
MARK O'MEARA: It's a blast. It's a blast. Like I said,
it's not only just the fact that it's The Open Championship, The
Open Championship of the world, it's also the fact that links
golf, but what really makes it special is really, when we come
over here and play the spectators. You know, the people that come
out and watch an Open Championship are second to none. They have
a great, great, great knowledge and appreciation for the game.
And for the players, they get to play in front of those people,
the fans, it just makes it that much more enjoyable.
So from that aspect, they know who their Open champions
are, even if it might have been 15, 20, 12, 10, 8 years ago, they
know. And I think they appreciate the fact that we still come
back and try to compete.
Q. I was going to say, what was going through your mind when
that last putt circled?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I realized Zach was 5-under, but I
also realized that it was a tough putt. And I was just trying to
two-putt, to be honest. When I hit it, I knew I had hit it a nice
speed. And as it was tracking up there, it looked to me like it
was going to maybe miss left just on the edge or maybe lip out,
but it hung in there for the last three feet. I said, wait a
minute, this looks pretty good. As it started to lip, I thought
it was going to lip out, but I didn't realized it lipped out and
came back at me like that.
I'm pleased to get away with a par. A birdie would have
been a bonus. But the eagle on 17 was really kind of the
highlight because I needed a little shot in the arm, and that came
through for me.
Q. What will you do from the time you walk out of here until
you tee off tomorrow?
MARK O'MEARA: We'll go back to the house. Peter is here
and my caddie is already back at the house. And we had made
lasagna for tonight. She made it last night. I'm not much to go
to the range and actually hit balls off the firm turf out there.
So I'll go back, eat dinner, you know, go to bed, come
out here tomorrow morning and hopefully hit the fairway on No. 1
and go from there and start all over again. But no matter what
happens, listen, it was a joy out there today. It was fun to play
with -- I think Grant might be 19? How old is Grant? About 19.
It's nice to play with the Scottish amateur champ. And Marcus
Fraser, they were very great to play with, and hopefully we can
all have a good day tomorrow.
Q. Not to overegg this pin placement thing, but the two
holes mentioned by some of the players were 8 and 18. From your
point of view, can you describe them as you saw them.
MARK O'MEARA: No problem. I hit a nice 3-iron off 8. I
hit a 9-iron pin-high to right of the hole about 12 feet. It had
about two and a half, three cups of break to it, and I just missed
it on the little side. So I didn't think it was that hard. Maybe
if I was long and left, it would have been a little more
difficult. Because it was kind of sitting on the side of the
slope on the front right over there on No. 8.
But in fairness, a lot of times the greens in Open
championships, they're aware and cognizant that the wind can get
up. So they never get the greens that fast Stimp-wise. But
today, because the last few days and last week it's been dry, it's
been pretty mild, the greens have gotten a lot firmer and
definitely gotten faster.
So, yes, I mean it does get to a point where you're in
the wrong position on the green, you better be very careful on
your putts. You're putting defensively, for sure. There's
nothing wrong with that, though, it's a Major championship.
LYNN WALLACE: Thanks very much, Mark. Good luck the
rest of the week.
MARK O'MEARA: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports