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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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback
As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.
The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.
It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:
Breaking news. In addition to limited flight balls, the USGA plans to ban working out, proper diet and swinging faster than 105mph. They are also planning on removing the 3 point shot in the NBA.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 23, 2018
If we were playing a match, would you rather hit 7 iron to my 9 iron OR hit hybrid to my 5 iron? Oh and by the way, I can still hit par 5s in two with 3 wood. You can't.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) February 25, 2018
Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.
Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer
Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.
Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:
SERIOUSLY, Kevin Na?!?!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) February 18, 2018
That Is A Tap In, MATE! pic.twitter.com/YMmNT6m5H7
He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:
Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:
@kp24 lets get some facts straight. Shot tracker shows what u call “tap in” 3ft 4in. Since when is 3’4’’ on green speed 12 a “tap in.” FYI 1 shot for me on Sunday was 300k. Difference between T2 and T4. Yes, I did back off because the line didn’t feel right. So what! BTW that was the only putt I backed off all day. Also our group was on pace all day! We waited if anything. @pgatour @golfdigest @golf_com @golfchannel #getyourfactstraight #sticktoyourownsport #everyshotcounts
Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.
The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.
Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.
Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.
The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.
Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.
On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.
''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.
''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''
Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.
''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.
''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''
Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.