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August 2, 2001

Mark O'Meara


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Mark O'Meara for joining us for a few minutes. Good round today with 12 points. Why don't you make a couple comments on your rounds and we'll go into some questions.

MARK O'MEARA: Obviously, it was a nice round. I made quite a few birdies out there and that was fun. Needless to say, I have not been making that many birdies this year. I saw some signs yesterday and at the British Open a couple weeks ago that I was trying to play a little bit better, hitting the ball a little more solid. Get a little more confidence, making a lot, and confidence comes with hitting. Today, I got off to a slow start, didn't really do much, didn't hit very good shots on 11 and 12 and hung in there and starting at about 13 and 14. I started hitting the ball pretty well and I birdied 14. The par 5, I hit a good drive and laid up with a 4-iron -- 5-iron, excuse me. Hit a sand wedge to about ten feet, 12 feet and made it for birdie. The next hole on No. 15, I hit a driver off the tee. I hit a pitching wedge to about four feet and made that for birdie. The bogey on the next hole, 16, 6-iron just off the green pitched it by and missed about six and a half, 7 -footer. 17, I hit a good drive, 5-iron right at the pin and flew just on the top of the hump and just came back and it was just on the edge and chipped it short about ten feet and made it for birdie. 18 I hit a good drive and an 8-iron to about 16 feet and made that for birdie. No. 1, I hit a driver on the left rough and had to lay up with an 8-iron because -- I had to hit 5-iron for my third shot to about eight feet and made that for birdie. Second hole, I hit 2-iron and a 9-iron to about eight, ten feet and made that for birdie. The next hole, No. 3, I hit a 3-wood off the tee. 7-iron for my second shot to, oh, maybe six, eight feet and made that for birdie. And then the bogey on the next hole, I hit it just in the left bunker with the 5-iron on the par 3 and hit it by, didn't hit a very good bunker shot to about 18 feet and placed it. And then 5, up the hill, I hit a driver and a 2-iron that I didn't quite catch and I was in the front bunker. Blasted to about ten feet and missed that. Then birdied No. 6 and I writ a good drive and a pitching wedge to about 20 feet behind the hole and made a great putt coming down the hill. So, you know, I'm very pleased with a good start like that. I saw some better signs.

Q. When you've had a lot of things on your mind other than golf, is that part of the reason why you've struggled --

MARK O'MEARA: There's always, first of all -- I've struggled before, not maybe to the same extent as what's happened in the last year or so. But after winning both majors and Player of the Year and doing that at 41 years of age, I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to be hard to maintain that type of level of play or have those type of good fortunes happen to me. So, certainly, I took full advantage of it. I've traveled a lot. I played a lot. So, you know, my game really, to be honest with you, was tapering off a little bit. I wasn't playing that well towards the end of '98. So '99, I battled around a little bit. Last year I didn't play very well. I made a decision in my mind that I was going to try to play and compete and try to play a little schedule. And a lot of things have happened in my life, I've spent more time with my children, my mom passing away two and a half months ago. When these things unexpectedly, you have other responsibilities, not necessarily playing professional golf. So maybe the desire and some of the drive had slipped, which, you know, you can understand is reasonable why that would happen. It's frustrating, but, you know I just didn't -- not to say that I didn't care, but I was not as motivated. I was not as motivated to get out and play. I was not enjoying it. I was not hitting it well and I thought to myself: "Well, if that's the case, I'm just going to take more time or I'm going to fish or spend more time with my family and I'm going to get away from golf. And if I do that, then maybe I can rekindle the passion that I had for the game and competing." Competing is what it is all about. When you cannot compete at a level that you would like to compete at, it's tough. And I am in a transition period in my life at 44 years of age, not 24 like these young guys, 27, that pounded it a long way and have a lot of fire. And at one stage of my life, I had that, too, but after 21 years, it is not quite the same. And I think anybody who is in that age group, Scott Hoch, obviously, 45, is having a great year, but it just changes. I think your priorities changes.

Q. When did you start to feel -- inaudible?

MARK O'MEARA: I was happy with how I hit at the British Open. I played all of my practice rounds with Tiger and I hit the ball well and I felt like, "Hey, maybe I'll play well this week." And I did play well at the Open Championship. I shot 5-over the last nine holes where I drove it in four bunkers where I had to chip out sideways, but I hit a lot better shots and I saw some signs. Today, I hit quite a few more solid shots that looked nice and were going at the pin; and I made a couple more putts. Those were the things that you have to do to play well. And for me, I'm going play four in a row now, and then I'm going to take a week off and I'm playing two, and then I've got two weeks off and basically playing 10 weeks out of 13. So that is a full fall, to try to get it up to 22 tournaments this year. This is my 13th event on the Tour, so it's not that many tournaments. It's hard when you don't play. You have to compete week-in and week-out.

Q. You played 11 straight holes without making a par.

MARK O'MEARA: I made a lot of birdies, that's true. It's no fun making a bogey, but a bogey, you know, is not going to hurt you that badly if you are making birdies. If you feel like you're making birdies, then you know that the pins are so much -- I tell you what, the pins are tough out there on Thursday. The first couple days the pins were reasonable -- to make eight birdies, I think I made, anybody would be happy with that. As long as you eliminate the big score, the big number.

Q. What's your feelings on the technology and length of the golf course, that kind of thing?

MARK O'MEARA: I'm not going to sit up here and say that I don't think the technology has been advanced over the last 10 to 15 years; and the game of golf and equipment has gotten better and it should. Would you want to drive an old, beat up car? But the way I look at it is, I think you've got to give credit to the players, I really do. Technology can only take you so far. And certainly, the understanding, launch angle and ball spin and all of these things and maximizing those things that help the players hit the ball further. But you still have to putt good and you still have to think good and you still have to have the heart and the desire, all of these other facets of the game that you have to have. So to say that technology is the reason why these guys are shooting the scores they are shooting; I disagree with that. I know Tiger as well -- probably as well as any person besides maybe his parents and David. But these players are so committed to their physical regimen, exercising, stretching, diet, sports psychology, they are just all-around so much better athletes. Not that the players before me and the other players were not great athletes, because I think to be a good golfer, you have to have good hand-eye coordination, but these guys have taken it to another level. My feeling is: Do you make the golf course tougher? You might lengthen some of them, but not really. I don't think you need to do that. I think if you grow the rough -- and the rough is a little deeper this year at Castle Pines. They have added some water on some holes, but they haven't has always been one, in my opinion, where excitement and birdies. Eagles and things like that is what the fans want to see. If you start making the golf course too difficult, then you are not going to see as many opportunities for eagles. So to answer your question, I know it's drawn out, I don't think the technology is hurting game. I think it has helped advance the game a little bit. But the players themselves are so much committed with coaches and aspects of their physical well being, I think it's been a big improvement.

Q. Do you ever have a press conference without a Tiger question?

MARK O'MEARA: I enjoy talking about it. I know more about it than you guys, but I can't tell everything or he'll never talk to me again.

Q. He's pulled out of next week's tournament. Do you get the impression the last couple of months he has been running himself ragged and he's run down and that's why he's not playing well?

MARK O'MEARA: I would not actually say that. But I would say that, you know, he's not far off with his ability to hit the golf ball. I think he's disappointed a little bit that he is not played better. But I know that in his mind he is giving it everything he has. And I would say that, you know -- I can't put words in his mouth, but I think that mentally, he is probably a little tired, because, any one of you, I know -- because I'm with him so much -- but no other player out here has the scrutiny for the world of not only golf, but the world in general focused on Tiger Woods. Their eyes are on him all the time, everything he does. And that takes a toll on a human being. Not just Tiger Woods, but anyone. And he has handled it so unbelievably well, that for somebody to say he did not prepare right at the British Open or the U.S. Open; he prepared exactly the same way as he did last year and he won and everybody was like, oh, they expected him to win and he did win. This year, they expected him to win, and so did I, because I know how talented and gifted he is as a player. And when he doesn't win -- what's happening is there's a lot of good players out here. Even though Tiger has dominated this sport the last three years, you cannot take away from what David Duval has done or what Phil Mickelson has been accomplishing or when Retief Goosen did what he did at the U.S. Open. So, you know, certainly Tiger is at an unbelievable level up here, but when he's just a little off his game, you know, guys can beat him; and certainly, that has happened in the last two or three weeks. My feel of what he's probably going to be doing is going home, resting, practicing, getting away from it all, and getting out there practicing when he really wants to practice and rekindle himself a little bit. I don't think it's -- he needs to take a step back away from the game and refocus what he wants to do.

Q. What do you want to do after golf?

MARK O'MEARA: I want to go fly fishing. (Laughter.) You know, I won't sit here and lie to tell you that it would not possibly be fun to do TV. But, I just -- it's hard for me to pull the trigger and be committed and say that I would go do 18 events with some network or this or that. And there's no, really, I guess, sure thing that I would be that good, because I do like to talk. I would like to play now. I'm committed to trying to play. If I play poorly for another year or so, we'll see -- inaudible. Right now I'm doing some design work, golf course design. Opened my first course in June, north of Toronto up in Moscoga (ph) called Grand View. My second course is going to come on line next year, it's just about done in Dublin, Ireland called Carlton House. It has really turned out nice. And I've got one under construction in Park City, New York.

Q. (Inaudible.)

MARK O'MEARA: No, I think it had to do a lot -- plus, I love Ireland. I spent so much time over there that it is just a natural for me.

End of FastScripts....

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