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January 17, 1998

Mark O'Meara


MARK O'MEARA: 21-under par after four days. I am pleased with the number that I am at. But, I realize that, you know, I have got to go lower. I have played reasonably well. I haven't played great. I know I have shot some nice scores. Today I think I left a few out there. I lipped-out some putts coming home that possibly could have gone in. But, I only had one bogey in four days. I have managed myself pretty well out there and, hopefully, tomorrow I can get out there and, you know, take it deep and shoot a low score, because that is what it is going to take. I think that Andrew obviously is playing well. Bruce Lietzke is playing well. I saw Freddy was making a move. But it is going to boil down to posting a good score tomorrow - there is no question about it.

Q. With the pins being more difficult on the final day traditionally, there won't be any amateurs -- (inaudible)

MARK O'MEARA: The greens are harder here and slower than the other golf courses, so that is an unusual combination. Early I hit some putts that just came up short right in the middle because the speed of the greens and -- on the other three courses are a little bit quicker. The greens are new. They are a little firmer; got more undulation on them. If the pins are tougher tomorrow, it makes somebody who is behind - if they shoot a good low score - they are definitely going to have a chance to move up. The leader is going to have the most pressure on him. That is the way it is in any golf tournament. So, it kind of all depends on what the top guy does. I mean, if it is Andrew, or whoever it is, and he has got a 2- or 3-shot lead, and he goes out and shoots a super round or 5- or 6-under par, 7-under par, I mean, it's going to be his tournament. So, I think the whole key in an event like this is not always worry about what everybody else is doing, but try to do the best you can. I think a lot of times you put so much pressure on you: "I have got to make an a birdie. I have got to birdie. I have got to birdie," and that sometimes you don't free yourself up. Just go out and play the golf course. The course is in good shape. The weather has been tremendous. So, I mean, it is out there if you make some putts. But, you have got to make the putts too.

Q. You say you got to shoot a good score. What is a good score in this tournament?

MARK O'MEARA: A good score -- a great score around here, I think, would be with the way -- the new greens and stuff, 7-, 8-under par would be a very, very good score around here.

Q. Do you check the scoreboard at all when you are in the hunt?

MARK O'MEARA: I look at the scoreboard, yeah. I do. I, obviously, if I am playing well tomorrow, I will try to take a look at the scoreboard to see how I stand, see how aggressive I might need to be or non-aggressive. I mean, basically, you can't be too non-aggressive out here because, you know, guys are out there firing at it and making birdies. So, you know, I think I am, at this point, maybe four, five shots back. So, I have got a lot of work cut out for me.

Q. What does it do for a guy like you who spends a lot of time managing your game? Don't you have to come up with a new game plan on a place like this where you have got to go low?

MARK O'MEARA: If I remain patient and usually I am a pretty darn good putter, so, what happens for my game is -- if all of a sudden I get in a little string, I might rattle three or four birdies off in a row - boom, boom, boom, boom. But, if you get frustrated out there, you get off to a low start or this or that, then it is that much harder to all of a sudden free up and make some birdies in a row like that. So, I think the key for me tomorrow would be if I drive the ball well, and I start holing some putts early, hopefully, that will definitely free me up to try to shoot a really low tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Do you remember what you have done in the couple of times you have been runner-up here; the final day, have you rallied?

MARK O'MEARA: Well, I kind have had the tournament one year playing here at Bermuda Dunes, the host course, I remember hitting it out of bounds on No. 11; still made a good bogey. I ended up shooting 1-under on the backside. I had a five-way playoff. But, you shouldn't have to shoot -- hopefully you can shoot better than 1-under on the backside. But on the other hand, I shot 1-under today on the backside. Is it easy? It is easy if you -- if you make the putts; keep the ball in the fairway, the golf course can tend to play easy because the conditions are good with no wind and it is not overly an overpowering golf course. But on the other hand, you know, you get a little bit off on your swing, or you are not that confident on the greens, well, you are in for a little bit of a longer day.

Q. What do you think of the changes they made to the greens; has it toughened the course?

MARK O'MEARA: I think it has made it a little bit more difficult. If you are asking my personal opinion, I don't like the changes. I think the golf course was fine the way it was before.

Q. The pace of a Pro Am event like this one, playing foursomes, does that affect your game at all?

MARK O'MEARA: Well, I mean, my game has been built around Pro Am wins, unfortunately. I think with my personality, the way I was brought up, I respect all golfers, regardless of what their handicap is. Today I played with Emmett Smith and Marcus Allen and Jim Louis who lives down here in the desert, and, you know, I played with two Hall of Famers and it was exciting to meet them and spend the day with them. And, I want them, when they leave, to say, "Hey, you know, that Mark O'Meara guy is a good player, but he is a good guy too." That means a lot to me. I don't want to just hit my shot and not give them any attention at all. The first four days, kind of for me -- I am trying to obviously win the golf tournament but they are also for the amateurs too. I just think it is the only right thing to do. That is the only way I know how to treat people. I just couldn't walk down the fairway and not even pay any attention to them because I don't think that is the right thing to do.

Q. A little critique of those guys' games.

MARK O'MEARA: Emmett Smith has been taken lessons from Hank Haney, he told me out there today. So, he has definitely got some talent. He says he has been playing for eight years and he played to an 18 (sic), but I don't know, we got to maybe check the handicap a little bit. Made four birdies, so it was pretty impressive. But, on the other hand, I heard yesterday Jim Louis, his other partner, first six holes he never finished, so, he is a competitor. He has got a good touch. He loves the game. I mean, he is totally infatuated with it. Marcus Allen, the same thing, a good solid player, a lot of times all I had to do is keep trying to tone him down. They always want to hit driver on every hole. I said "Look, the tees are up. You guys are so strong, that is not the percentage play. There is no reason to hit driver. You can hit 2-iron out there and 8-iron. I mean, why hit driver?" So, a lot of times Emmett hit iron off a lot of the tees and I think he was rewarded because of it. But I think both of them are pretty talented players. Probably beat you TR, straight up.

Q. I have watched them for 10 holes. I'd like to get a little natural --

MARK O'MEARA: Emmett did play one off the condos out there on 16, so -- but it was a lot of fun. They were good for the gallery and it is good for the game to have all different entertainers, athletes, whatever walk of life come out and enjoy playing golf. And, if that creates more interest for the game, the better everybody is.

Q. Ever feel like this owes you anything; that you are due to win this?

MARK O'MEARA: I couldn't lie to you if I told you I didn't think that the Bob Hope might owe me something. I think that there has definitely been the opportunities where I have had the chance to win, losing in two playoffs, and shooting really low a couple of times. So, you know, maybe tomorrow I will get the bounces and make the putts and hopefully I will. And, if I don't, you know, there will always be another time hopefully.

Q. Talk about the west as opposed to back east. You seem to excel in this part of the country?

MARK O'MEARA: I have always been a player who always wanted to get off to a quick start. For some reason, that has kind of been the tendencies of my career, you know, you ask a pitcher or a ballplayer why he might run better early in the season and late in the season, I don't know, or a jockey with a horse - for Mark O'Meara, been pretty good start at the beginning of the year; not so good in the middle of the year and pretty strong finish at the end of the year. Golf is basically a 12-month sport now. It is not eight, nine months. It is 12 months. I played so much international golf, a lot of times I am playing overseas and doing well overseas and a lot of times people in America don't know that. So, you know, hey, golf is like life. I mean, you have your ups and downs. For some reason, I do good at the beginning of the year. Maybe it is because I have little bit of vacation for three weeks prior to the west coast or four weeks, maybe I need to learn to schedule myself better; take some more time off. I don't have the answers.

Q. Not necessarily the grass out here?

MARK O'MEARA: I think I have always been a great putter on poa annua greens. My success at La Costa, my success at Pebble Beach in the Monterey Penninsula, the times I played well at L.A. and Riviera, I tended to putt on poa pretty well. Here in the desert, you have got Bermuda greens overseeded, so it is a little bit different. I think my wedge game has always been pretty good, my short game, wedge game and putting. And a lot of times you are hitting a lot of wedges and putting and so those are two strong points of my game when I am playing well.

Q. Talk about good breaks and bad breaks. Have you thought anything about the 2-shot pin you took in the third round last week at Mercedes? That would have been two shots that would have given you the victory, actually. What do you think happened with that drive?

MARK O'MEARA: Well, I know what happen. I hit a 3-wood out. It was the 15th hole. I was 5-under for the day and I got to the top of my backswing and someone was using a Port-O-Let over to the right and slammed the door right at the top. It is not very often that I would use that as an excuse. I could honestly say at that time it kind of got my concentration a little bit. I kind of flamed it to the right a little bit. I still thought I would be fine down there because it is a short hole. Somebody said it hit this one tree because -- that was good because I figured it wouldn't plug because it was so soft. Somewhere the ball had to be sitting there. 150 people looking for the ball, no one ever found it. I told Tiger it was probably because of his whole group that was behind us; probably some young person probably picked it up and decided they found a souvenir out there. Unfortunately, I made a triple bogey. I walked to the next tee and I could have gone either way. I could have gone for a bogey-bogey finish. Fortunately, I came back and birdied 16, 17, 18. So, when I walked off the 18th green, I was really proud of the fact that, hey, you know, I had this shell-shock hole and I bounced back with three great birdies to put myself into a position where if I played good on Sunday I might have a chance. And, I shot 64 along with Tiger on Sunday and we came up one short.

Q. You did take a 2-shot penalty?

MARK O'MEARA: Yeah, it was the last ball. I had to go back to the tee. Then I made bogey on two shots on top of that, so I made triple.

Q. Was it to the right of the bunker?

MARK O'MEARA: Just right of the cart path there. Yeah, just short and right of the bunker. Maybe in that pine tree it stuck there, I don't know. All right? Hey, nice shirt their, Jim, support that company Taylor Made, I like that. Thanks.

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