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January 10, 1999

Mark O'Meara


MARK O'MEARA: Well, I didn't feel like I hit it as well as I would have liked to this week, to be honest with you. I know I shot 17 under. It wasn't like I was holing them from everywhere. I just fought out there as hard as I could for four days. I'm pleased that I shot the score I shot, considering the way I felt standing over the ball. I know it's 17 under. I know it's 8 behind David; might be even more at the end of the week. You know, I mean, this is a golf course which requires somebody to be a powerful player, and David's a powerful player. He's a great player right now. There's no question about it. He's got all the tools. He's very composed when he's on the golf course. I've played with him; he's been my partner in team events. I've played with him when he's played at his best. He's just coming into his own.

Q. You're the Player of the Year; you've won everywhere; you have a lot of experience. When you run up against a guy who is playing this well, is it psychologically tough? Can you just play your own game?

MARK O'MEARA: I just play my own game out there. I thought when I made the turn, I played pretty well on the front, I made a little hiccup when I missed a short putt on No. 8. I 3-putted. I shot 3-under in the front, got me to 15. I thought to myself, I can shoot 5- or 6-under on the backside. It's not impossible to do that. It is kind of impossible to do that when you don't feel that good standing over the ball. It's funny. I think it's probably more of a couple things: It's a little bit mentally tired, I think, because I've been going pretty hard. Sometimes I'm focused in and I feel pretty good, like over a putt. I make a good stroke, I make it. Other times I'm standing over it, I don't feel quite right. Confidence is a huge thing in this game of golf. The better you hit it, the better swings you make, the better shots you see, the more confident you become. It's a snowball effect. You look at a player of today's era, Tiger Woods, David Duval, some of these other young, powerful players, they've got all of those tools. They've got the driving, they've got the power, they've got the control, they've got the good short game and putting to go along with that. It doesn't faze me to see some of the scores that are being shot.

Q. There hasn't been a package of wins like what David has done in the last 15 months since Price, you go back to Watson in 1980. Any idea how long someone can keep this up?

MARK O'MEARA: No. I mean, if I knew that, I could write a book. The game goes in cycles. If you look back from the beginning of time, guys get hot for a while. It takes a little bit of a toll on them, then they don't play as well. It just comes with the game of golf. It's a fickle game, no matter how good a player you are or how confident you are. Right now, if you look at David's performance throughout the world in the last year and a half to two years, it's been pretty phenomenal, no question about it. Lee Westwood is another player who has won multiple, multiple tournaments around the world, very fine player. I know Tiger hasn't won the amount of tournaments that we all anticipated he will win. But I think that's just a matter of time. He's 23, you know. I mean, David is 25, 26?

Q. 27.

MARK O'MEARA: 27. Let's give Tiger three or four years and see what happens. He definitely has those tools to do exactly what David is doing right now.

Q. I'm not writing Tiger off.

MARK O'MEARA: David, can he sustain this? Yeah, I think he can sustain it. It wouldn't faze me if he got out there and won another four to five, six tournaments. He's got the ability to do that.

Q. You say it takes a toll on a guy when he wins that many tournaments.


Q. What is the nature of that toll?

MARK O'MEARA: He's got to come in and deal with you guys all the time (laughter). You put a lot of expectations on him. Let's face it. I mean, there's just no way to play perfect golf all the time. I don't care who you are. Johnny Miller had his run, Tom Watson had his run, Nick Price had his run, Nick Faldo had his run. I don't know what it is. The game of golf is just not that easy. I think David will explain that to you when he comes in here. He'll say he dominated the golf course, he dominated the field this week. But he also knows in the back of his mind that it's just one step at a time, one tournament at a time, one shot at a time, do the best you can. If he continues, keeps playing like that for the next five or six years, hey, he'll go down as one of the greatest players of all time. Still, he's got to win a major championship. He's got to win multiple major championships. He's got the ability to do it.

Q. Is there any part of David's game that you see that's specifically better than Tiger's?

MARK O'MEARA: I think maybe he might be a little bit more patient than Tiger is right now. He's obviously putting extremely well. I know he's hitting the ball good, but you have to putt good, too. You don't shoot those scores if you don't putt good. Those are probably the areas, maybe just a little bit better in course management. That comes with time.

Q. When you were going good a couple years ago, and last year --

MARK O'MEARA: I don't think I've ever gone like these guys are going (laughter). But that's nice to say. The way I look at my career, I don't think I have the talent that David Duval has, I don't have the talent that Tiger Woods has, I know that.

Q. I meant when you were going good, not this group.

MARK O'MEARA: For me, right.

Q. You came in every week, for weeks in a row, said, "I'm fighting it, just hanging on, managing my game."


Q. Is this a change for you?

MARK O'MEARA: No. I mean, I think that I have some pretty good ability. I think I know that there's some -- the game of golf is a lot about being able to control your emotions on the golf course. There's a lot of times where self-doubt creeps in there. I wouldn't deny the fact while I'm out there playing this week that I had a lot of doubt over a lot of shots. It's not easy to play that way. It takes a little bit more of a toll out of you. It's easier to stand over it thinking, "I feel pretty good, send this down the right, with a little draw, there she goes." Instead of standing over the tee thinking, "Is this going to pull to the left, is this going to block to the right?" Kind of the way you all play when you're out there playing. Coming up 18, I'm thinking to myself, 17 under, if I birdie, I shoot 18 under. I only made three bogeys for the week, two of them were 3-putts. I'm thinking to myself that's a pretty phenomenal score for the way I stood over the ball and actually felt.

Q. Going the other way, though --

MARK O'MEARA: That means I can look forward to when it does start to feel a little bit better, absolutely. It's easy to play good when you're standing over the ball with confidence and feeling good. But it's the guy who can battle through and hang in there when he has a little bit of self-doubt, a little bit of fear, little bit of this, little bit of that, still shoot 17 under par. To me, that's a great accomplishment this week. Why you would have any fear? I don't have a whole lot to prove anymore. I am going to be 42 next week. I've been pretty lucky.

Q. We talked about the calendar year, which really isn't much in golf, except you're the Player of the Year, now it's 1999. It's still playing well in the opening tournament after people are saying, "Are you going to do it again this year?," must be encouraging?

MARK O'MEARA: Very much so. I've always been a player who likes to get off to a quick start on the west coast. I was glad to see the wind blow a little bit today, because I can bring my flight down. When I'm not hitting it as well as I hit it, my ball flight comes down. That is ideal for these types of conditions, because the if the wind was blowing pretty good out there. I must say that a lot of this golf course, I don't know if David had played it before, but for me, it was difficult because even though the fairways were so wide, I had a hard time focusing in on where I needed to go. I know that sounds crazy. Sometimes when a fairway is 110 yards wide, you're like, you just --

Q. Hard to find a target?

MARK O'MEARA: Hard to be committed, to go ahead and just let it go. If it's a little bit more focused, you say, "This is the way I have to shape it, like this or that."

Q. (Inaudible)?

MARK O'MEARA: That's nice. That's always nice. I come out here to play to try to win golf tournaments. I've been very fortunate, very blessed to have won a number of tournaments around the world, and also in the US. Once again, when I look in that PGA TOUR media guide, I see 19 years, 18 years of playing THE TOUR. Only four I think -- maybe four years or five years out of those years I haven't finish -- only five times I finished out of the Top 30. I look at how many tournaments I've entered, how many times I finished in the top 25 in those tournaments I played, or how many Top 10s. The game is obviously about winning, but the game is also about consistency, trying to always better yourself. If you're struggling, finding some way to get the job done when you're out there playing, you learn that I think from time. I know when I played with David at Lancome last fall and I saw his attitude, came to the last hole, he was tied for the lead, hit a poor shot for him into the water, played double bogey. Not necessarily lost the tournament, but he probably very easily could have won that tournament. He was like, " I hit a bad shot, not the end of the world. This isn't going to make or break my life." He had a great attitude about it. "I could have easily won it, but I didn't win. There will be another time, and I'll make up for it next time."

Q. What can you take from this week to next week?

MARK O'MEARA: Just the fact that I'm looking forward to going back over there. I know the course has changed. I'll work on a couple things on the practice tee, hopefully get them ironed out a little bit, try to get the ball up in the air a little better. It's not like I hit it off the charts. I still hit a lot of fairways out there, I still hit a lot of greens. I think I missed only three greens today. I can just tell, you know, it's not quite where I'd like to have it.

Q. A lot different course, too?

MARK O'MEARA: Easier to walk, won't have shin splints, have to stretch to walk. Go from the hardest course to walk to the easiest.

End of FastScripts....

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