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March 13, 1999

Mark O'Meara


JAMES CRAMER: We'll just start off by going over your card, if we can.

MARK O'MEARA: Okay, I bogeyed the first hole. I 3-putted from the front edge, drove in the left bunker and wedged to the front part of the green. I had about a 50-footer and I 3-putted. The fourth hole, the par 5 I hit in the front bunker in two, sand wedged to about 10 feet, 12 feet, made that for birdie. No. 8, par-3 I hit a 2-iron, great shot, really, I mean hit the flag, ended up about a foot-and-a-half behind the hole, made that for birdie. 13, I hit a driver off the tee, just on the front edge, just short, chipped it with a 9-iron to about, you know, a foot, made that for birdie. 14, driver, driver, just in the right rough, a sand wedge to about probably 14, 15 feet, birdie. And then, you know, I mean I made an up-and-down just from the edge of the green on 15 and needless to say, a good 2-putt on 18. The second putt was, I hit a good drive and the 5-iron on front right, I probably had about a 70-footer, left it about probably 12-feet short, 10-feet short, made that, probably 12 feet. So that was a good way to end the day. Well, I guess I did bogey the first hole, I didn't think I bogeyed today, but overall I was pleased, you know, with my play. I didn't actually play sterling, but I played smart and the conditions were much tougher, obviously, than they had been the previous two days. Greens got pretty firm, pretty fast and, you know, the south easterly normal Florida wind came up, so there's no question the course was playing much tougher.

Q. Mark, they announce they are going to switch tee times tomorrow, go out early?

MARK O'MEARA: That's good.

Q. I'm just wondering what the players -- what your take is on that?

MARK O'MEARA: If the forecast looks questionable later on in the afternoon, it is my daughter's birthday tomorrow, I live in Orlando, the earlier I play, the earlier I can get home and spend with my family, so me, I was happy to see the times moved up, otherwise I would be teeing off late tomorrow, wouldn't have gotten home until later. Now if there is ever going to be a jeopardy, we like to get these events in on national TV, you know. We don't want to go to Monday unless we have to, but hopefully the front will stall a little bit or slow down, and we will get the round in tomorrow. But I imagine the conditions will be tough tomorrow again.

Q. Mark, assuming the leaderboard stays similar to what it is right now, does that change your strategy at all knowing that the guy at the top of the leaderboard hasn't won a PGA TOUR event and maybe play more or less aggressive if he was a proven player?

MARK O'MEARA: No, you know, these players in my opinion are so good right now, all of them, even a player who hasn't won yet like an Eric Booker, played well in the Nike Tour, he won golf tournaments earnings, knows how to win them. I know winning a PGA TOUR might be a little bit different, but I don't think in golf you can ever under estimate what can happen out there. For me, you know, I like the challenge tomorrow. I want to go out and play well. I want to try and win the golf tournament, there's quite a few guys in front of me. If they're worried about Mark O'Meara, that's fine, but I'm just worried about myself, to be honest with you. So if I go out there and play like I did today or a little bit better, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to get close. But once again, I can't control what he does. There's always more pressure on the guys at the top of the leaderboard, but, you know, sometimes a guy breaks through and it's happened here in the past. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens tomorrow. I like my position. I'm glad I'm 9-under par. If you would have given me 9-under par before I teed off today, I would have run and taken it. I can't complain and hopefully tomorrow I can take it low.

Q. What about the conditions tomorrow, if it stays similar to this, who might that favor, handicap?

MARK O'MEARA: I think it favors the guy who, you know, has played in this course in windy conditions. It favors the guy with a good short game, you know, Payne Stewart has got a good short game, mine's been good now. If I drive the ball reasonably well tomorrow that will be a big help for me. You got to be patient out there, you really do, when the course gets tough.

Q. Which daughter's birthday and how old?

MARK O'MEARA: Michelle, my daughter, Michelle. She will be 12 tomorrow, 12 going on 20.

Q. I got one, too.

MARK O'MEARA: So it will be nice to be home finally. I haven't been home -- a lot of times I'm on the road when my kids have birthdays, so it will be nice to go home tomorrow night maybe take them out as a family to dinner.

Q. It would be nice if it would be a victory celebration?

MARK O'MEARA: That would be pretty cool, pretty cool.

Q. How different is golf on a Sunday when you're in the hunt, from any other day, how is it different?

MARK O'MEARA: Everyday the pressure builds a little bit, but I have been doing this -- this is my 19th year. I have won 16 tournaments, so I think it's good. It's good to be nervous. It is good to have a little bit of that feeling inside. If you didn't, I don't think you'd be out here, but it is a matter of how you deal with your emotions, you know, how you really deal with bad shots as opposed to dealing with good shots. If people get over the bad shots quickly and hang in there, couple of good breaks, guys will make birdies real quick. When you're playing out there, you know, you are playing the course, I'll like at the leaderboard obviously, see what the leaders are doing, if I have to play a little more aggressively to win, I'll do that. You can only play as aggressive as you are hitting the golf ball. If you are hitting well, it is easier to be a little more aggressive. If not, you are going to just be trying to hang in there.

Q. Mark, do you look at pars like 7 and 18 as psychologically nearly as good as birdies?

MARK O'MEARA: For sure, for sure. I drove it in the left bunker on 7, didn't hit the greatest drive, blitzed the 1-iron, I hit 2-under in the front. I hit it about pin high to the right, so I must have hit it 220, left-to-right, hit a great putt it went right over the edge. I was loving par there. Today I was pleased, I hit a good drive under those conditions on 18. I was between clubs, between a 5 and a 4. I probably should have hit a 4, but I was worried about going long because the greens have been firm. I was trying to hit a 5-iron there, and I just hit it straight against the winds to turn it over, it left me that long putt. To make the second putt I kind of realized that, you know, those putts at the end of the day are very important. I don't want to drop a shot coming home, so it was nice to hold that putt on 18 and put a good stroke on it.

Q. What was that long putt on the front, 6 or 7?


Q. Par put?

MARK O'MEARA: I'm sorry, 7, you're right, the long par putt was on 7. I made a 2 putt on 6, I'm sorry. The par on 7 absolutely, because I hit a good drive, I mean 124 yards, I hit the 7-iron in the right bunker. I know that's not the place to go. That was stupid to play at the pin, play to the left of the pin, give yourself a 15, 20-footer. That's what you want to do, and I made a bad judgment call there, I hit a bad shot and, you know, making that putt definitely kept my round going. Then I hit the pin on the next hole, 2 iron, you're right. I don't make that putt, I make a bogey there, and I might bogey 8, you never know what can happen, but you just -- when it is windy you just got to try to hit solid shots.

Q. That bunker shot, you hit a whole lot of sand there?

MARK O'MEARA: Yes, I was trying to go high because it was into the wind and landed soft and kind of bounced on me. My bunker play has been pretty good this week, really, overall very good.

Q. Mark, is four shots -- that a lot?

MARK O'MEARA: It is a lot, it is a lot, but if the weather gets tough, obviously today the course is playing tougher, Eric's playing pretty well, he's even par, if that's the case still, and I don't know Eric, but I have seen his performance on TV in the Nike Tour, the guy -- these guys can play, trust me. Even the guys that you guys haven't heard that much about, I know they're good players. There's a lot of guys between me and the leader and I just got a lot of work cut out for me tomorrow. I got to play really well to win. Thanks.

End of FastScripts....

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