In His Own Words - Mark OMeara 1998 Masters Part 1
NEARLY EVERY MASTERS IT SEEMS LEAVES US WITH A MEMORABLE STORY LINE. WHETHER IT'S CRENSHAW WINNING ONE FOR HARVEY PENNICK OR TIGER AT 21 BLAZING A NEW TRAIL, BUT 1998 WAS ESPECIALLY RIVETING IN THE WAY THAT A THRILLING KENTUCKY DERBY IS WITH SEVERAL HORSES IN FULL THUNDERING STRIDE GALLOPING TO THE WIRE FOR GREEN JACKET GLORY.
IN THE END MARK O'MEARA'S TRIUMPH LEFT US NOT ONLY BREATHLESS BUT MINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT PERSEVERANCE DOES PAY.
MARK, PRIOR TO 1998 YOU HAD PLAYED AUGUSTA MASTERS 14 TIMES. YOU DIDN'T PLAY IT ALL THAT WELL. SCORING AVERAGE OF ALMOST 73. ONLY ONE TOP TEN, A FOURTH PLACE FINISH IN 1992. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT YOUR GAME AND AUGUSTA NATIONAL THAT WASN'T A PARTICULARLY GOOD FED UP UNTIL LAST YEAR?
RICH A LOT OF TIMES WE PLACE SUCH HIGH IMPORTANCE ON THE MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS AND I KNOW THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT AUGUSTA NATIONAL IS A RIGHT TO LEFT TYPE GOLF COURSE.
I TEND TO HIT A... RIGHT TO LEFT TYPE PATTERNED GOLF SHOT. YOU'VE GOT TO PUTT WELL, LET'S FACE IT, TO WIN AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL. I'VE ALWAYS BEEN A PRETTY GOOD PUTTER THROUGHOUT MY CAREER AND SO I'VE ALWAYS PROBABLY PUT TO MUCH PRESSURE ON MYSELF THINKING THAT IF I WAS GOING TO WIN A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP IT WOULD PROBABLY BE AUGUSTA NATIONAL.
DAY ONE IS ALL ABOUT THE WIND. GUSTING UP TO 40 MILES PER HOUR. HOW DID THE DIFFICULT CONDITIONS IMPACT YOUR, YOUR FOUR ROUND GAME PLAN?
THE GOLF COURSE WAS PLAYING VERY DIFFICULT EARLY IN THE WEEK IN THE PRACTICE ROUNDS, HARD, FAST, A LITTLE BIT OF WIND. THE STORM BLEW THROUGH. PUT SOME WATER, SOME MOISTURE ON THE GOLF COURSE.
WE GOT OUT THERE THURSDAY. THE WIND WAS SWIRLING... VERY, VERY DIFFICULT CONDITIONS BUT I TEND TO BE A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A LOW BALL HITTER SO I FELT LIKE HEY THIS IS GOING TO BE BETTER FOR ME BECAUSE NOW, NOT THAT MANY GUYS ARE GOING TO GO REAL LOW, SO I NEED TO BE PATIENT OUT THERE AND JUST TRY TO FACTOR IN THE WIND, TRY TO CONTROL MY GOLF BALL THE BEST I CAN AND, AND TRY TO GET A, A, A REASONABLE DECENT SCORE.
FREDDIE WAS THE ONLY GUY WHO BROKE 70 IN ROUND ONES, SO YOU'RE SORT OF WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. YOU'RE 5 BACK. HE SHOT A 69. ROUND 2 YOU SHOOT A 70. YOU'RE AT THE MIDWAY POINT.
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH WHERE YOU'RE AT, BECAUSE YOU'RE, AGAIN, YOU'RE ONLY 5 BACK?
I AM PLEASED. I THINK ANYTIME YOU GO TO A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP, THE FIRST THING THAT YOU LOOK AT IS THAT YOU WANT TO PLAY WELL BUT YOU WANT TO MAKE THE CUT. AND NOW I'VE MADE THE CUT.
I'VE SHOT 74, 70...I'M BACK TO EVEN PAR. I'M STILL BEHIND THE LEADERS BUT I ALSO REALIZE THAT HEY I'M GOING INTO
THE WEEKEND. ALL OF A SUDDEN I STARTED TO SEE BETTER RESULTS ON THE GREENS, NOW THE CONFIDENCE IS SLOWLY BUT SURELY GROWING JUST A LITTLE BIT.
SATURDAY... BREAKS AND THE CONDITIONS ARE NOW IDEAL AND YOU GO OUT AND YOU BIRDIE ONE AND YOU BIRDIE NINE AND NOW YOU'RE STARTING TO FIND YOUR GAME
UH NO PUN INTENDED MR. TAYLOR MADE
(MARK O'MEARA LAUGHS)
BUT YOU ARE FINDING YOUR GAME AND YOU KICK IT INTO ANOTHER GEAR AT, AT NUMBER 12.
NUMBER 12 WAS, WAS VERY KEY BECAUSE I HIT A GOOD SHOT IN THERE AND I HAD ABOUT A 14 FOOTER, 16 FOOTER FOR BIRDIE. I, ONCE AGAIN WAS THINKING A LITTLE BIT ABOUT GETTING MY EYES OVER THE BALL TRYING TO GET MORE SQUARED UP. I MADE A GOOD STROKE THERE, THE BALL ROLLED TRUE ON THE GREEN AND WENT IN THE HOLE AND ANYTIME .
(CROWD IN BACKGROUND CHEERING)
LET ALONE HIT THE 12TH GREEN YOU'RE HAPPY, BUT WHEN YOU WALK OFF WITH A BIRDIE, IT GIVES YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE CONFIDENCE AND I WENT TO 13, I HIT A PRETTY GOOD TEE SHOT, MISSED THE GREEN JUST TO THE LEFT
FORTUNATELY FOR ME THERE, ON 13, I HIT A GOOD PUTT.
IT GOT UP AND LEFT TO THE HOLE JUST TO THE EDGE OF THE RIDGE... HAD ENOUGH SPEED JUST TO CARRY HIM DOWN BY THE HOLE TO ABOUT 6 FEET 8 FEET AND I MADE THAT FOR BIRDIE.
AND THEN 18 I THOUGHT WAS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. YOU DROVE IT RIGHT INTO THE TREES ON THE PINE STRAW AND MADE A TERRIFIC UP AND DOWN... MADE FOUR.
WELL ESPECIALLY AT AUGUSTA, RICH, THEY'VE ADDED SOME TREES OVER ON THE RIGHT SIDE ON 18 AND YEARS AGO, PEOPLE WOULD HIT IN THERE, YOU'VE SEEN SOME DRAMATIC SHOTS PLAYED OUT OF 18.
WE SAW THE ONE THAT JOHN HUSTON HIT UM MYSELF, I WAS JUST TRYING TO GET THE BALL BACK UP IN FRONT OF THE GREEN SOMEWHERE TO GIVE MYSELF AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAYBE WALK AWAY WITH A PAR.
I HIT A, A 5 IRON OUT OF THE STRAW... LOW, AROUND THE TREES GOT UP JUST SHORT OF THE GREEN, SHORT RIGHT, HIT A, A PRETTY GOOD PITCH SHOT UP THERE I BELIEVE TO ABOUT 6 OR 8 FEET AND I MADE THAT PUTT FOR PAR AND AS YOU POINTED OUT THAT WAS REALLY A, A, A GREAT PAR AT THE RIGHT TIME.
WELL IT GOT YOU INTO THE FINAL GROUP WHICH YOU HAD NEVER EXPERIENCED AT AUGUSTA. GOOD PAIRING FOR YOU... WITH FREDDIE COUPLES. EXPLAIN HOW THAT CHEMISTRY WORKS BETWEEN YOU TWO GUYS.
IT WAS NICE TO BE ABLE TO PLAY WITH FRED BECAUSE FRED AND I WENT TO THE QUALIFYING SCHOOL IN THE FALL OF '80 TOGETHER. WE WERE PAIRED TOGETHER ON THE LAST DAY. WE BOTH GOT OUR TOUR CARDS TOGETHER.
WE BOTH BASICALLY STARTED OUT OUR CAREERS TOGETHER AND FRED COUPLES AS EVERYONE KNOWS IS A WONDERFUL GUY ON THE GOLF COURSE. VERY LAID BACK, VERY RELAXED BUT VERY COMPETITIVE AND A VERY GOOD BURNING DESIRE TO WANT TO WIN GOLF TOURNAMENTS UM I FELT LIKE IF IT WAS GOING TO BE AN ADVANTAGE FOR ME IT WOULD BE TO BE PAIRED WITH FRED COUPLES ON SUNDAY.
SUNDAY DAWNS AND IT IS ALMOST SURREAL, MARK. JACK NICKLAUS AT THE AGE OF 58 GOES OUT AND HE BIRDIES 2, HE CHIPS IN ON 3 AND THROWS THE HANDS UP AND, AUGUSTA'S GOING ABSOLUTELY BANANAS.
HE BIRDIES 6, HE BIRDIES 7 AND SUDDENLY HE IS 2 BACK AND THE GRAND OLD COURSE IS AS ELECTRIC AS I HAVE EVER SEEN IT. I, I'M WONDERING DID, DID THAT CHARGE YOU UP AT ALL AS YOU WERE BEGINNING YOUR DAY?
IT DID UH AS A YOUNG CHILD GROWING UP, I MEAN I STARTED GOLF AT A LATE AGE OF 13. I KNOW THAT DOESN'T SOUND LATE BUT COMPARED TO TODAY, AND JACK NICKLAUS WAS ALWAYS MY IDOL AS A YOUNG MAN GROWING UP I MEAN HIS PERFORMANCE IN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS AND WHAT HE'S DONE IN THE GAME OF GOLF WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE REPEATED.
SO TO BE ABLE TO PLAY IN THE FINAL GROUP ON SUNDAY WITH FRED COUPLES, TO BE ABLE TO FEEL THE ELECTRICITY THAT WAS IN THE AIR, LIKE YOU SAID RICH, WITH ALL THE OTHER THINGS GOING ON LET ALONE SEEING JACK NICKLAUS GET OFF TO AN INCREDIBLE START ON SUNDAY DEFINITELY WAS A MOTIVATING FACTOR.
SO YOU BIRDIE 3, NICE LENGTHY BIRDIE PUTT. AND THEN YOU MAKE THAT NBA RANGE, 3 POINT BOMB AT, AT NUMBER 4. YOU'RE, YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY FEELING IT AT THIS POINT.
I AM BECAUSE THAT IS AN AREA THAT I DON'T, I MAKE A LOT OF PUTTS, I FEEL LIKE I'M A VERY GOOD PUTTER BUT I WOULDN'T SAY MY STRENGTH IS MAKING A LOT OF 40 OR 30, 50 FOOT PUTTS.
I FEEL I'M VERY GOOD IN THAT SHORT RANGE AND WHEN THAT PUTT WENT IN ON NUMBER 4 I WAS LIKE HEY YOU KNOW, MAYBE YOU CAN JUST MAYBE SLIP IN AND DO THIS THING THIS YEAR.
MARK, EARLY ON, ANY SENSE OF, OF BEING TENSE?
I WAS TENSE UH I THINK ANYTIME I PLAY A GOLF TOURNAMENT, NO MATTER WHAT TOURNAMENT IT IS, IF I HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN, I'M A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS AND I KNOW, I ACTUALLY KNEW IN THE BACK OF MY MIND THAT
GOING IN THAT, THAT MY CHANCES TO WIN A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP WERE SLOWLY BUT SURELY DWINDLING A LITTLE BIT AND EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION.
IF I WON OR IF I DIDN'T WIN AT AUGUSTA IT STILL WOULD HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTING IF I DIDN'T GO OUT AND PUT ON A GOOD PERFORMANCE ON SUNDAY.
IN THE PRESS TENT SATURDAY NIGHT, YOU'RE TWO OFF THE LEAD SO YOU'RE ANSWERING SOME QUESTIONS UM, DID YOU GET HIT WITH THE 'MARK, WHAT DOES TOMORROW MEAN?' CONSIDERING
YOU'VE NEVER WON A MAJOR?
I DID. I DID AND, AND I WAS IN THAT CATEGORY THAT A LOT OF PLAYERS HAVE BEEN IN AND IT'S A NICE CATEGORY AT LEAST FOR PEOPLE TO THINK THAT HEY YOU KNOW HE'S A GOOD ENOUGH PLAYER THAT GOSH HOW COME HE HASN'T WON A MAJOR TO THIS POINT AND I EXPLAINED TO THE MEDIA... NO I HAVEN'T WON A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP YET BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION.
WHEN I GO OUT AND PLAY ON SUNDAY, YOU KNOW, I WANT TO DO WELL BUT IF I DON'T DO WELL I THINK MY WIFE AND MY FAMILY ARE STILL GOING TO LOVE ME.
DO YOU THINK THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE WHO MAYBE DIDN'T BUY THAT, THAT LINE OF THINKING, WHO SAID MARK'S JUST SAYING THAT IT, IT'S, IT'S A CRUTCH?
UH PROBABLY AND YOU KNOW THEY... EVERYBODY HAS A RIGHT TO BELIEVE AND, AND THINK WHAT THEY WANT TO THINK BUT I, I KNEW THAT MAYBE, YOU KNOW, MAYBE IT'S JUST NOT THE TIME FOR ME MAYBE, MAYBE I'VE HAD A NICE CAREER, MAYBE I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN A MAJOR.
THROUGH 5 HOLES O'MEARA AND COUPLES WERE TIED AT 7 UNDER. DUVAL TWO GROUPS AHEAD STOOD FOUR BACK. THE LEADERS AFTER LENGTHY PAR SAVING PUTTS AT THE 6TH DEMONSTRATING THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR ONE ANOTHER.
MEANWHILE, DUVAL CONTINUED TO INCH CLOSER, PICKING UP YET ANOTHER SHOT AT THE 7TH. AT THAT SAME HOLE FRED COUPLES HIT THIS PERFECT APPROACH
SETTING UP BIRDIE AND GIVING THE '92 CHAMPION THE OUTRIGHT LEAD.
DUVAL, CHARGING HARD AT THE PAR 4 NINTH, THREW THIS DART TO SET UP A BIRDIE WHICH WOULD TAKE HIM TO FIVE UNDER BACK AT THE PAR 5 EIGHT, COUPLES RECOVERED FROM A POORLY HIT 2ND SHOT AND EXECUTED THIS SUPERB PLAY.
THE ENSUING BIRDIE CARRIED THE POPULAR COUPLES TO NINE UNDER PAR. O'MEARA HOLDING STEADY BUT WOULD STEADY BE GOOD ENOUGH ON THIS DAY?
YOU'RE TWO DOWN GOING TO THE 9TH HOLE. 9TH HOLE WAS A PIVOTAL AS ANY. YOU'RE 2 SHOTS DOWN TO A GUY WHO HAS JUST MADE 2 CONSECUTIVE BIRDIES. THE MOMENTUM IS CLEARLY IN HIS FAVOR.
I THINK THIS
WHAT'S YOUR MIND, WHAT'S YOUR MIND SET?
WELL I THINK THIS IS WHERE EXPERIENCE COMES IN AND I USE IT AS, AS AN ADVANTAGE FOR ME FROM THE STANDPOINT THAT YOU KNOW, I HIT A BAD TEE SHOT. NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, BUT I'VE HIT BAD TEE SHOTS BEFORE.
I'VE BEEN OVER THERE BEFORE AND THERE WAS NO NEED TO NECESSARILY PANIC, BUT LET'S JUST GET OUR SELF BACK OUT. LET'S GET IT BACK ON THE FAIRWAY TO WHERE I GOT A SAND WEDGE TO THE GREEN OR A PITCHING WEDGE... TRY TO MAKE PAR.
THAT'S MY MIND THOUGHT, AND FRED'S DEFINITELY LOOKING AT BIRDIE AND SO WHEN FRED CAME UP JUST SHORT, SPUN THE BALL BACK OFF THE GREEN NOW I'VE PITCHED THE BALL TO ABOUT SIX FEET, ALL OF A SUDDEN IT'S, YOU KNOW, THE GAME HAS CHANGED. I MAKE MINE FOR PAR. FRED MISSES HIS 8 FOOTER AND MAKES BOGIE.
YOU WALK OFF NINE GOING 'PHEW' I JUST STOLE ONE AND WH....
I THINK YOU GOT TO THINK THAT... AND I KNOW THAT I THOUGHT THAT, BECAUSE YOU, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE, ONCE AGAIN, FRED HIT A GOOD SHOT TO THE 8TH... TO THE 9TH GREEN AND I MEAN IT WAS A GOOD GOLF SHOT
BUT THAT'S WHERE AUGUSTA CAN BE
SO PENALIZING. JUST A LITTLE BIT OF A MISCALCULATION OR A LITTLE BIT TOO MUCH SPIN OR LAND IN A CERTAIN AREA IT COMES BACK OFF THE GREEN, WE'VE SEEN IT HAPPEN BEFORE TO OTHER PLAYERS AND YOU KNOW IT HAPPENED TO FRED ON, ON SUNDAY.
AT THE VERY NEXT HOLE THERE WAS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF MARK O'MEARA NOT PANICKING.... YOU, YOU FINALLY MISSED THE PUTT... IT WAS... A FAIRLY SHORT PUTT, WHAT ABOUT 5 FEET, 4 OR 5 FEET BUT HIT A PRETTY GOOD PUTT
AND, AND IT DIDN'T PHASE YOU, WHY?
I MADE A GOOD STROKE. I FELT SOMEWHAT COMFORTABLE OVER IT AND I HIT A GOOD PUTT AND IT LIPPED OUT, SO I WASN'T OVERLY DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE AT LEAST I HAD THE RIGHT MIND SET, RICH, WHEN I WAS OVER THE PUTT AND THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME.
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Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.