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In His Own Words - Mark OMeara 1998 Masters Part 1

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RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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)
 
RICH LERNER
BUT YOU ARE FINDING YOUR GAME AND YOU KICK IT INTO ANOTHER GEAR AT, AT NUMBER 12.
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)
 
RICH LERNER
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.
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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.
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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.
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
MARK, EARLY ON, ANY SENSE OF, OF BEING TENSE?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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
 
MARK O'MEARA
WELL
 
RICH LERNER
YOU'VE NEVER WON A MAJOR?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
ANNOUNCER:
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?
 
RICH LERNER
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.
 
MARK O'MEARA
I THINK THIS
 
RICH LERNER
WHAT'S YOUR MIND, WHAT'S YOUR MIND SET?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
YOU WALK OFF NINE GOING 'PHEW' I JUST STOLE ONE AND WH....
 
MARK O'MEARA
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
 
RICH LERNER
YEAH
 
MARK O'MEARA
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.
 
RICH LERNER
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?
 
MARK O'MEARA
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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