August 26, 1998
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you for joining us this afternoon. We'll just open up the questions, Mr. O'Meara.
MARK O'MEARA: Fire away.
Q. We've talked in the past, but would you go over again that the influence Tiger has had on you over the last year?
MARK O'MEARA: I kind of look at the influence that I've had over him, actually, you know --. No. You know, our friendship has been documented. I have a lot of admiration for Tiger and, needless to say, he can do things with a golf ball that I haven't seen too many players ever -- that can do the same things that he can do. So his competitiveness and his fire to want to win and win badly, I think has helped spur me on a little bit in the last year-and-a-half. We enjoy competing against one another. We enjoy competing together. And I think that he's definitely helped me out and I think that I've helped him out, too, so it's worked out nice for both of us.
Q. You've won a major twice. That's a super performance. What's the difference between last year and this year?
MARK O'MEARA: I can't put my finger on it. I think that, you know, I got out of my own way this year. Had a few good breaks, needless to say. You got to get a little lucky when you win any tournament, let alone any championship. This year, it seems like things fell into place for Mark O'Meara in the standpoint of timing, being in the right place at the right time. I've always had a pretty good knack and history when I get into a position to win, get the job done. This year, I had some chances to win major championships and I got it done two out of four times. I was disappointed maybe I didn't finish a little bit better at the PGA. On the other hand, there was a lot of expectations placed on me. It would be an incredible honor to do something that Mr. Hogan did in 1953, I guess it was -- or '54 -- whatever year -- and to finish tied for 4th. I think it was a very respectable and I actually was number one in green's regulation. Probably hit the ball as good at the PGA or better than the MASTERS or the BRITISH OPEN. I didn't win at the PGA. I won at the MASTERS and the BRITISH OPEN. A lot has to do with putting, timing, get the right bounce here and there. That's what it takes to win.
MARK O'MEARA: I've worked on some things in the last year-and-a-half with Hank Hainy on trying to work on my ball fly a little bit and I think I'm hitting the ball better now than I have in a long time. I mean, I understand my swing a little better and some of the things that we've been keying on just recently have started to click a little bit and I'm doing better.
MARK O'MEARA: Up in the air a little more, putting the ball up in the air a little better. Flighting a little bit better. I could always drive the ball. At times, I drive it pretty good and, other times, because of my low flight, I miss fairways just on the edge. So I'm working on those two aspects of my game.
Q. I hear you play with a lot of celebrities like Ken Griffey, Jr.
MARK O'MEARA: Right. I'm going to go give Junior a little batting practice tonight at the game. I want to go see him. Just kidding. His golf swing and his golf game is a heck of a lot better than my baseball game is, swinging a baseball bat.
MARK O'MEARA: Not really. It's just -- he's a nice person and we're good friends and he's had tremendous success in Major League Baseball and he's a good family guy and I consider him a friend away from it all. So, it's nice to know people that are successful in other areas of their lives, whether it's Ken or Wayne Gretzki or football players that I know. It's only because those players in those other supports all love golf very much and that's why we all become acquainted and become friends.
Q. Did you hear something interesting because the whole major winner from --
MARK O'MEARA: Well, we almost had. I mean, three out of four. Vijay played well and won the PGA Championship, but Lee and myself and Tiger last year at the MASTERS, Payne Stewart has won a couple of major championships. He's member of the club that we all belong. So our little area has had some pretty good success in the last two years in major championships.
Q. Mark, in your opinion, how does this feel in this tournament as much as others?
MARK O'MEARA: This is one the premiere events on the tour. I think every player that wins a tournament, whether it's here in this country or a worldwide event that qualifies you for the NEC WORLD SERIES OF GOLF realizes that, hey, that's a great honor. That's the first thing they look forward to, knowing they're going to come here and play against tournament winners, play at Firestone, a course that's got a lot of history, very, very difficult, demanding golf course that usually yields a really quality winner. You come here and you play well and you win this championship, you know you've beaten not only a very demanding golf course, but you've beaten all tournament winners. So, it's a great honor and I think that everybody who's playing here, you know, is always looking forward to trying to get their name at the top of the leader board come Sunday.
Q. Mark, what has gotten Vijay on the roll the that he's on? Are you surprised at this?
MARK O'MEARA: I'm not surprised. He's talented player. We all know that. He have knows how to win tournaments. Golf is a game that's pretty cyclical. Confidence is a huge factor. Vijay started to show signs about a month ago that he was starting to turn on and started to go play well. Sure enough, he won the PGA Championship. He went into the International probably on cloud nine, pretty excited and confident. What happened in his life and the PGA. Wins again. A good golf course for him with his length. Needless to say, he's putting well. He's doings the things that you need to do to win tournaments. And a lot of that comes with confidence. It really does.
Q. What would be the -- (inaudible) -- cards and letters you've received since the OPEN?
MARK O'MEARA: Well, I think that -- I've gotten so many letters and so many nice cards, it's hard to pick out just one. But I know that it's always pleasure to get a note from Arnold Palmer or get a note from Jack Nicklaus or get a note from the President of the United States. Even though, right now, I don't know if that's so great. But either a note or a phone number. One of the two. No. I think that, you know, my peers -- you play out here, you try to gain respect of your peers. These guys out here that I play with that I've been playing with for 18 years, I think they -- we're all happy for each other's success. So, you know, nothing really stands out but the standpoint that I have had a lot of tremendous, nice notes.
Q. How many would you say, roughly?
MARK O'MEARA: Can't count them all. I mean, a lot. A lot. A lot of faxes, business people in the business world. Just a lot. And, you know, obviously, I have a to sign a lot more things when I get home, too. So time is spending a lot of time in the office doing all of those things. Probably thousands of notes and cards.
Q. I noticed yesterday Gary Player was quoted as saying someone when he made the championship at 60. Given your resurgence at your age, I just wonder what realistic limits you would put on or age limits you would put on winning a major championship?
MARK O'MEARA: It's hard to putt an age limit on somebody winning a major championship. I think, as you get older, the odds start to stack a little more against you. But on the other hand, like I've said before, I mean, the golf ball, you know, it doesn't know how old you are. The thing is, with youth comes strength and strength has become a big factor in the game of golf today. It's a different game. It's a power game and a lot of the guys with power also have touch and finesse to go along with it. That's a pretty big advantage. That's somewhere where the experience of somebody that's a little older and been there a bunch of times, if they use their wisdom and age as tools and assets, then -- you know, you saw what Jack Nicklaus did at the MASTERS, you saw what he did this year at the MASTERS. It's hard to put an exact number on what age it might be to win one, but I'm just happy I got mine under my belt, finally.
Q. There's talk in Denver last week that you might be looking for Stuart Appleby this week. What are you doing?
MARK O'MEARA: We're going to go to the game tonight. Natasha Woodbridge is here and she's been spending some time. Todd and Natasha are close friends with Stuart. Last week, I arranged somebody to get his dock stained at his house because I know he's going to go back to Isleworth next week. I think every player out here, especially myself, knows what kind of person Stuart is and also what kind of a lady Renay was and it's just -- you know, floored me, it floored everybody in the golfing world and we want to make it -- I just want Stuart to know that he's got friends behind him and we want to be there to support. Hopefully, we'll have a good time at the game, get down there on the field and say hi to Junior and the Mariners and watch batting practice.
Q. How would you characterize Vijay and how do you think his success --
MARK O'MEARA: I characterize Vijay as a pretty solid human being. Nice guy. Pretty strong individual. Got -- we all know that he's got great work ethics. You know, his success on the PGA Tour has come with a lot of hard work and his success in the future like he's having right now doesn't phase me. The guy is a good player and knows how to win golf tournaments. Right now, he's obviously putting well. I know he went to cross-handed. This is a good golf course for Vijay here. I saw he was shooting good in the PRO-AM today. Nothing really phases me. When you get on a roll, it just keeps going for while.
Q. How serious does he practice?
MARK O'MEARA: He probably spends as much time or more time than anybody on the tour on the range. Pretty serious.
Q. The streak that Vijay is on now, have you been on the same roll now since the MASTERS?
MARK O'MEARA: Not as much. I mean, he won back to back. I didn't win back to back. I think I've been playing pretty well. I was pleased with my performance once again at Sahalee. Tied for 4th. Played pretty well there. I play here next week and my next event will be in Lancome in France and then I'm going to be pretty much back and forth across the pond and I'm playing the Disney Tournament and the Tour Championship. So I'll be playing a lot of international golf from here to the rest of the year, which I kind of do usually anyways. With the win at the MASTERS and the OPEN championship provides that opportunity to go to some tournaments that I would like to be invited to but now I definitely got invited to because of my success this year. So I would like to take advantage of that.
Q. The fact that Vijay playing so well, if all goes well, pretty stiff President's Cup competition?
MARK O'MEARA: Absolutely. I know Greg will be back and I think that he -- he'll want to play well in the President's Cup. And Royal Melbourne, tremendous golf course. I know Australia will be a great host to the event and, I mean, the American players, even though I feel we're going to send out a very strong team, I know that the international team also is very strong, plus they've lost the last two. They're going to want to win. So they're going to play tough and hard. With Vijay playing the way he is and also with Els coming back, I think Stuart will be in form by the time that comes around. If he's on the team, he'll be a threat, too. It will be a tough competition.
Q. I know a lot of guys have gotten into the fitness thing. Do you do anything more than you were for or five years back?
MARK O'MEARA: No. I mean, I know everybody thinks that I -- I got the Irish look, I look a little like my father. Everybody thinks I'm a little pudgier than I actually am. I weigh 190. I know I probably look like I weigh 210. That happens when you're Irish and got more than one chin. But I probably run 3 to 4 times a week, about 3 to 3-and-a-half, 4 miles. And Keith Klevin, who is a physical therapist friend of mine in Las Vegas has come with me to all of the major championships with me this year. He's coming with me to some of the other tournaments. I've always been on a pretty extensive stretching program, especially when's he's on the road with me. I think I've been pretty blessed with the fact that I'm pretty flexible and hardly any injuries to speak of in my career. Whether that's just knock on-wood or good fortune, I think that a lot of the young players are definitely on some strengthening and physical conditioning programs. I know Tiger's very strong, David Duval and some of the other young players. I can't say I'm in the gym lifting every single day. That would be a lie, but I think I'm in pretty good shape.
Q. What do you think it's going to take to win this tournament, Mark?
MARK O'MEARA: A lot depends on always -- depends on winning any tournament is the weather. If the rains came, softens the course up, play a little long. It looks like it will be okay the next couple of days. Dry back up. If the golf course play is hard and dry and fast and you get a little wind, this course plays tough. If there's not that much wind and the golf course is soft, the players out here are such good players, they're going to shoot pretty good scores. It's never super low. I know that Jose one year shot an incredible score. I think Lanny might have shot a good score one year. Who else through deep one time? I think you're looking to 7 to 8, 6 to 10 under par. Somewhere around there.
Q. How many Japanese tournaments?
MARK O'MEARA: Right now, I'm scheduled to play Tahao (phonetic) Masters, Visa. Tahao Masters. One tournament right now.
End of FastScripts....