October 27, 1998
Q. Lose any balls in the rough?
MARK O'MEARA: No, I lost one in the lake on the par 3 on No. 6. Needless to say, the golf course is in very good condition. The fairways are excellent. The greens are very nice. The rough is very, very deep. The golf course is pretty tough, in my opinion. Wasn't much wind out there today. Good scoring because the pins are in the middle of green. By the end of the week, I think you'll be surprised, I think anybody -- it's always hard to predict because the wind or the weather can change. Even if it stayed mild like this, I think 6-under at the end of the week is going to be a good score. I could be totally off base, but that's what I think would be a good score. If you gave me a 6-under, I'd sit in the clubhouse, after 72 holes. With the pressure and everything, it's set up like a US Open, the rough is that deep. If you're an inch off the fairway, you're going to take out your wedge, your 9-iron. This is probably more difficult because when you get in there, you've got to be very conscious of that -- that grass is very thick and very tough to play out of.
Q. Greens pretty speedy?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, they're pretty speedy. They've got some slope to them. You don't want to short side it on either side. The bunkers are deep. They're away from the green a little bit. You're hitting to an elevated green, usually away from. If you get it on the wrong side, it's going to be a tough up-and-down unless you make a 15 or 20-footer. I think you're going to have to play well to win this Championship this week. That's the way it should be. I mean, drive the ball on the fairway. Play smart, accurate, controlled iron shots to the green. Try to leave yourself an uphill shot or an uphill putt, if you can, if at all possible. From there, just be patient on the greens because they are pretty speedy.
Q. Is there a characteristic of THE TOUR Championship that has developed?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, it's the season-ending event. There's a lot at stake. The money title is at stake. You know, stroke average, scoring average is at stake. The Player of the Year is at stake a little bit. There's a lot of elements, sure, in a season-ending event like this. But it's nice to accomplish a nice year, to be in the Top 30, reward a player who has played well outstandingly over a whole year period of time. I think it's been a great idea for the PGA TOUR. It's kind of like our World Series, you might say.
Q. With the introduction of the World Series next year --
MARK O'MEARA: World Championships of Golf?
Q. Right. After this, you're going to have Valderrama, which is worth more money than this. Do you think this event will be by (inaudible) then?
MARK O'MEARA: I don't, I really don't. I think the players themselves realize how special this event is. You have a majority of guys - not every one of them has won a tournament this year, most of the guys have won a tournament, multiple amounts of tournaments. You have 30 of the best playing. Whenever have you that opportunity, you want to win. I understand the prize money is changing, but still it's a big purse here, and next year Valderrama will be a little bit bigger. Any time you win an event of this caliber, you're going to be very satisfied.
Q. Shortly afterwards, you're going to have the 50 top players in the world.
MARK O'MEARA: Right. But I don't think it will devalue this tournament, in my opinion.
Q. What event do you think will be bigger?
MARK O'MEARA: What event do I think is the biggest?
Q. Over time?
MARK O'MEARA: Between this and the year-end? I haven't really thought about it. Next year is going to be the first year. I think it's going to take some time, we'll have to see. In time, if that's the case, maybe the World Championship, the stroke play at the end of the year might become bigger. Time will tell. Right now it's going to be new. I can't really tell you until I've played in it a few times. Hopefully I'll be playing well enough to play in it.
Q. You have one Player of the Year award already, a couple more still to come. THE TOUR's Player of the Year. How important is it for you to win that one? Are you thinking about it?
MARK O'MEARA: I'd lie to say that I wasn't thinking about it. I realize what's transpired this year has been pretty incredible for Mark O'Meara. To win two major championships in one year, you know, I would never have dreamed that was possible. So I would dearly love to win it, but I also understand that David has had a tremendous year. The guy's won four times; he's leading the money list. He's played more tournaments than I've played in the US. I've played a lot more abroad. I've played well when I've played overseas. Worldwide, I'm very content with what I've accomplished this year. It's up to the players really to decide. I know it's a vote among my peers. I know I'm 41. Might not be many more opportunities for me to win Player of the Year. We'll see. Hopefully I'll play well this week and I'll deserve that right. If David plays well this week, it's going to be a tough call. Just have to wait and see.
Q. Is that one the most important one because it is by your peers?
MARK O'MEARA: I mean, it is important. It is a vote amongst your peers, and that's important. But, you know, would I be disappointed if I didn't get it? Yeah, a little bit, maybe a little bit. I'm also realistic. I'm a reasonable person. Understand that I wouldn't trade the two major championships that I have. I mean, I wouldn't trade those for Player of the Year. Player of the Year is very important and I know it means a lot, and it would be great to be voted that. But I also understand that David's had a good year, too. So, you know, I don't deny that fact. We'll just wait and see what happens.
Q. There have been editorials pro and con, you or David for Player of the Year. You and David have both been asked every tournament you played in the last three or four weeks.
MARK O'MEARA: I haven't been around much.
Q. Can you recall a time when there's been this much interest in the Player of the Year?
MARK O'MEARA: Last year I think there was.
Q. Last year was a foregone conclusion, pretty much. It was talked about.
MARK O'MEARA: I think Tiger was a little concerned about it. David Duval, Mickelson could have taken it away from him. Somebody else was up there?
MARK O'MEARA: It was Davis.
LEE PATTERSON: Came down to the wire.
MARK O'MEARA: It's always going to come down to the wire.
Q. Do you think the interest has hiked in the last couple years as far as who gets that?
MARK O'MEARA: Probably, yes. I'd have to say yes.
Q. This one seems to be as close as maybe Norman and Wayne, going all the way back?
MARK O'MEARA: You know, it depends on how you judge a year, to be honest with you. Would you say four tournament wins, which is very impressive, which David's played well, no question about it? Would you take that or would you take two major championships? That's the question you got to ask. I finished fourth at the PGA, I had the lowest stroking average in all the major championships. You're talking to a guy that for so many years came in the media room and everybody asked, Why can't you win a professional major championship? I've won 14 or 15 PGA TOUR events. I kept telling you, I know majors are important, but I'm content. Now I've won two major championship, finished fourth at the PGA, had a reasonable showing at the US Open, so I can only tell you that I'm very excited about what happened this year. I'm very thankful. Whether I get the vote or not, I mean, I'm not going to let that take away from everything that has happened. Plus I got the PGA's Player of the Year. What the heck, I got one of them.
Q. Do you like the idea there's a lot of speculation about this?
MARK O'MEARA: Sure.
Q. Like an MVP award?
MARK O'MEARA: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, it's voted on by the players, and the players should vote the way they see fit. I'm not going to stand up here and campaign for it. You know, I'm also respectful of David Duval, who is a friend of mine, and I have a lot of respect for his game and the way he's played this year. So we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.
Q. What Player of the Year award means more to players?
MARK O'MEARA: Probably the vote amongst their own peers. I mean, when I come home from the World Match Play and win over there last week or two weeks ago, and have every player - majority of the players - come up and congratulate me, that in itself means just as much, if not more, than just winning the tournament. When your peers recognize that you've done something well, they congratulate you on, "That's nice going. Way to win." That's special, it really is special.
Q. David said you actually let him hold the Claret Jug, everything, when he was over at the house.
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah.
Q. Is that the first time --
MARK O'MEARA: He wanted to hold that. He didn't want to touch the Masters trophy. He said, "You stole that one from me." I said, "I don't know. You had the same putt I had on 18. I made it, you missed. What's the difference?" David came by the other day. I like David very much. I played with him quite a bit of golf before he ever won a tournament. Played with me at Valderrama last summer. I knew that he was talented. We all know he's talented. He's an aggressive player. I believe he's won seven tournaments in the last two years or whatever. I won three last year around the world; I've won three this year around the world. You know, I'm very content. Do I think that I can play better? Yeah, I think I can play better. But, you know, you just have to judge what's most important to someone.
Q. Speaking of around the world, what is your schedule going to be like leading up to the Presidents Cup? Are you going from here to there?
MARK O'MEARA: I'm going everywhere. I'm going everywhere.
Q. That's what I'm asking.
MARK O'MEARA: I'm home next week for about six days, so I have a little bit of time off. I've got things I I've got to do at home, unfortunately. All these things come with playing well, which is a nice problem to have. But then I'm in Japan the next week at the Visa Masters. I fly there Sunday night to play to Hawaii, play in the Grand Slam Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I fly back home for the awards ceremony at the Golf Village, and then I go straight back to Palm Springs the next week to play in the Skins Game with Lehman, Norman, Freddie. Then from there I fly straight to South Africa for the Million Dollar. Next week I'm in Australia, Melbourne. Next week I'm snow skiing, so then I'm done. December 14th, I'm looking at the calendar, that's the cutoff date.
Q. What about the Presidents Cup in your mind, great amount of importance? You have a lot of Ryder Cup experience, too.
MARK O'MEARA: I think anytime you compete, whether it's this week or any tournament I play in, it's always important to me. I always want to play well. I think it will be important, Jack Nicklaus is the captain. I thoroughly enjoyed two years ago at the Presidents Cup with Arnold Palmer as our captain. I played with David as my partner, three matches, we went 3-0 I went 5-0. That's a nice record to have. I hopefully can go down to Royal Melbourne and perform well, we can retain the cup. I know that the international team, along with Greg Norman coming back, is going to be primed, they're going to want to win. They've got a strong team. I think it's going to be a good venue. Looking forward to it.
Q. Are you going to talk to Jack at all? You had good success with David last time. You and Tiger played well. What are your thoughts about who you might want to be paired with?
MARK O'MEARA: We're going to see Jack tonight. My feeling is, I'll get to the tournament site, I'll see how I'm playing. I'm an honest guy. If I don't feel like I'm playing as well as I'd like to be playing, I'll step up to the plate and admit. If I'm playing well, I'll expect to be played. I'll voice my opinion of who I want to play with to Jack. Difficult that with Arnold. I told him David hadn't had any experience at an event like that. I said, I know this kid is a strong, talented player, let me take him along and bring him along as my partner. I did, and it worked. Arnold listened, that's good. I hope Jack will do the same. I think Jack will, because I think Jack knows that all the players that are on our team know each other pretty well, we know our games pretty well. Let the guys kind of pair up the way we see fit. I think he'll listen to the players. We're going to have a strong team.
Q. Is the main success you and David had that year, that blend of experience, or were there parts of the game that physically complemented each other?
MARK O'MEARA: I think a combination of both. He had some power. I felt like I had a little bit of knowledge and patience keeping him around, doing the right things. We made the right calls. We really played well as a team together. He's playing extremely well right now. I'm playing pretty well. So if it works out, he's comfortable with it, I'm comfortable with it, maybe we'll do it again, keep that string going.
Q. Can you talk from a player's point of view where the Presidents Cup is, where you think this event is going in terms of importance?
MARK O'MEARA: I think the Presidents Cup has grown tremendously. I think moving it to Australia has been a wise decision. The international team has come twice to America and played, lost both times, but they've been close matches. It was an exciting match for Freddie to hold that putt on the 17th green for us to win, very exciting. I know that the international team would dearly love to win. I know that probably will help the event if that happens. As long as I'm on the other side, I don't like to lose. I don't want to be on a losing team. I know that happens sometimes. I think it's growing. It's grown in popularity. It was a needed event because the Ryder Cup, needless to say, has grown at such a tremendous rate, is such a venue of huge proportions, but yet you've got the golf -- the game of golf is so global, that there's players that are left off of that, don't have an opportunity to make the American team or the European team. So this is a way to really compromise that and show all the other stars that are throughout the world and can play against the American team.
Q. Over the years, do you think the elite players in the US will be able to maintain their enthusiasm of playing a year-end event each year?
MARK O'MEARA: That's hard to say. You know, time will tell. But the game is growing. I think that the prize money is growing. So players want to go out there and compete, they see there's an opportunity out there for them. Yeah, I think that there's always going to be an interest. You know, I also believe that the game is more global, so that's why the World Championships of Golf will be good, they're going to serve a good purpose for the top players throughout the world to get together and play against each other more often, more frequently, besides just the Majors.
Q. You've always loved the Augusta National, but you walk those fairways now with a different feeling and a different light. Any thoughts that you're going to walk some more fairways that the great Bobby Jones walked? You seemed to play pretty well at houses he built.
MARK O'MEARA: This is completely different setup than Augusta National. Augusta National doesn't have any rough. If Augusta National had this kind of rough, those greens, forget it, it would be a nightmare. Here, it has the feel of being around that type of golf course, because the greens have got speed, got some movement to them. But once again, you know, miss a green here, you're either going to be in the bunker. And the sand is similar to Augusta, but a lot of times you're going -- it's going to be if you're on the greens. You have one shot, take out your sand wedge and hope you guess right, the ball is going to come out of the rough. In that aspect, it's a lot different than Augusta National.
Q. What about the historical value, in your mind?
MARK O'MEARA: You know, I mean, I've never been really known to be much of a historian on the game of golf. I know that it's nice to see what has transpired here at this golf course. This is my first visit today to see it. But to hear and read about what happened over the time, it's quite an achievement for all of Atlanta and Tom Cousins and all the international -- all the businesses here in Atlanta that have put the support behind this development and have brought it back to an incredible stature. My hat is off to them. It's very, very nice what they've done here.
Q. Will you be able to fit in enough of an off-season given this schedule? You have events early next year.
MARK O'MEARA: Yes. I'm going to play -- I'm going to go from the 14th through like December 27th, I'll be up in the mountains skiing with my family. I'll go home and practice for a week. Then next year, you know, right now I don't know exactly what I'm doing, but I'm going to probably play I think maybe the first two weeks in Hawaii, then I'm going to wait and see. But, you know, I obviously play Pebble Beach, some other things. But there's opportunities for me to play abroad, and overseas, and there's no reason why I shouldn't take advantage of those. When I go overseas, I play well. My worst finish this year overseas is sixth place. I travel well, I play well overseas, I enjoy playing overseas. There's no reason I shouldn't take full advantage of that.
Q. Kind of feel like you're going into '99 without an off-season?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah. I'm tired right now. I was tired last week at home, Disney, I was a little run down, two weeks in Europe I wasn't feeling well, sick, on antibiotics. I still was playing pretty well. It takes a little bit out of you. Takes the wind out of you a little bit. I feel better now. This week is not that busy of a week. It's an important week. I think I'll be ready to go Thursday.
Q. Would it have helped any if the Presidents Cup had been in September this year? Would there have made any difference for you, for your schedule?
MARK O'MEARA: No, not really. I mean, I was going to go to Sun City anyways, Africa. I'm pretty much halfway there anyway. Might as well keep going, go around the world, keep going (indicating). It's like one of those, you know, round-the-world kind of people, real global. All we need to do is get Star Trek, they can beam you there, quicker, wouldn't have to fly so far.
Q. You just mentioned you intend playing overseas again next year. Have you got any sort of commitments to play in Europe next year?
MARK O'MEARA: There's nothing definite right now. I mean, we're talking to some different tournaments that I've played in in the past that might be interested in having me back. There's nothing finalized where I'm going to go for sure yet.
Q. Not Germany?
MARK O'MEARA: Not yet. Not for sure. We're talking, like I said, but nothing final yet.
Q. You'll probably defend Match Play?
MARK O'MEARA: I would definitely like to come back to the Match Play and defend, especially since I'll be seeded and won't have to play the first match. If they change, I might not go back.
Q. Have you been to Australia before, played?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, I played this year in the Australian Masters. I finished sixth.
Q. Do you have any advice for those of us going to Australia to put up with the time?
MARK O'MEARA: Have you been to Australia before?
MARK O'MEARA: Probably in that area, I've played well in Melbourne before, but in that area, per square mile, they probably have the best golf courses in the world, in Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia, in a 20-mile radius, in an area of the sand belt, they call it, has got at least I know of six tremendous golf courses. You're going to have a great time. You really are going to have a nice time. The people are friendly. They'll probably get a little rowdy out there. They're Aussies, so it's okay.
LEE PATTERSON: I think Jerry is concerned about the long airplane ride.
MARK O'MEARA: You'll be fine. Taking a sleeping pill. You'll be fine. It should be -- it's going into their summer, so it should be warm. That golf course is going to be tough. It's a tough course.
Q. I saw an old clip of a match there on The Wonderful World of Golf.
MARK O'MEARA: With the wind blowing?
Q. I don't know if it would be anything like that now. Must have been 30 years ago.
MARK O'MEARA: They've cleared it out a little bit. Still, you have to hit it pretty straight. The fairways are somewhat generous. If you miss, you can get in some trouble. The greens are very quick.
Q. Anything like in America?
MARK O'MEARA: Similar to Augusta, but you don't have quite the size of trees. The greens are kind of like Augusta. Bunkers are deep. The ball doesn't kind of bury. Goes right to the bottom. Nice sand in the bunkers. Nice all-around golf course.
Q. You going back to Augusta any time soon?
MARK O'MEARA: Next year, right before the tournament.
Q. First time?
MARK O'MEARA: I've never played there when there wasn't the ropes up and people walking around. I've never played there in a casual round of golf. But I'm a member there, so I guess I can go and play there anytime it's open. I might have to call. I don't know. They haven't really sent me all the details. I'd like to go and play there sometime with just some friends and stuff. Maybe take my dad up there. Haven't seen the changes yet.
Q. What do you expect from Greg Norman and the Presidents Cup?
MARK O'MEARA: I expect him to play well. He'll be fired up. He'll be ready to go.
Q. Do you think there will be a little emotion there that the team might feed off of?
MARK O'MEARA: Absolutely. I think he'll be a positive force for the international side. I believe that he'll be a big motivating factor to the rest of the team, without a doubt.
Q. The rise in prize money next year, close to 40%, the World Golf Championships, how will that impact your '99 schedule?
MARK O'MEARA: I wish I was 25 years old, and I'm not, I'm 41. This year I played probably fewer tournaments than ever in America. I think this is my 18th event, something like that. You know, I would imagine that I'll probably play 20 some odd events next year. I doubt that I'll decrease my schedule, but I imagine I'd probably keep it about the same. You know, it's just hard to say. The fact that I do like to travel abroad and play plays an impact on how many I play in the United States. But I would like -- my main focus has always been playing well here in America, there's no question about it. So because prize money has gone up, that will be a factor in my determination, when it comes to determining what tournaments I'm going to play.
Q. And the second part. Winning two majors, besides getting into all these other tournaments, what has it meant to you financially?
MARK O'MEARA: Ask Peter back there, he's my manager. Start hammering him. He needs to do a better job (laughter). No, what does it mean? It means hopefully I'll be able to make some more money. I'm not going to deny that. I think that anytime you play that well, especially at 41, if I decide that I'm going to play a little bit more overseas or take advantage of what's happened to me this year, then if I don't play well, you guys tell me I got burned out. Hey, so what? I'm 41 (laughter). Don't you think I should try to capitalize a little bit when I play well? Am I supposed to take the rest of my life off, say, That's it. I'm looking for a raise, you know. It's not total Jerry McGuire. Not totally Show Me the Money. But it is about -- I'm an American. I need to go out there and make a living. My wife keeps cracking the whip. She buys a place up in the mountains. I got to go to work, got to keep working. I love to play. Let's face it. I enjoy playing and love competing. I don't think that's ever going to change. The dollar issue, hey, you know what, I was happy, to be honest with you, when I had my Volkswagen Rabbit and I had no money, to be honest with you. Now there's more pressure, more people expect more out of me. That in itself, you know, makes it a little bit more difficult. But it is nice to have nice things. But I'm more blessed by having a great wife and a great family and a lot of friends, and two major championships to boot. So whatever happens in the future, is going to be just fine.
Q. Have you decided on the champions dinner?
MARK O'MEARA: I haven't.
Q. Any candidates, possibilities?
MARK O'MEARA: Yeah. I don't want to spill all the beans, but --
MARK O'MEARA: I love Mexican food. That's all I can tell you. I've never seen that on the menu there at Augusta. It could possibly be some kind of a Mexican dish. It could be maybe a pasta dish. I haven't decided. You guys have any suggestions? What do you think?
Q. We can't come. If you do the Mexican, import it from Texas.
MARK O'MEARA: That's the problem. My favorite dishes, if you ask me what my favorite meal would be, would be probably chicken fajitas. Mexican and Italian food are my two favorites. Somewhere in between there, a little combination of those. I like sushi, too. We mice have to cover all the spectrums, maybe a little sushi appetizer, maybe a little Italian salad, antipasta, a Mexican entre.
Q. Can you see Bob eating sushi?
MARK O'MEARA: It would be awesome (laughter). Thanks.
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