Q&A with Mark O’Meara on what might be his last Masters

Mark O'Meara receives the traditional Green Jacket from Tiger Woods after winning the 1998 Masters in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 12, 1988. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke) Ed Reinke/Associated Press (1998)

Q&A with Mark O’Meara on what might be his last Masters

Digital Edition

Q&A with Mark O’Meara on what might be his last Masters

Mark O’Meara became one of a small group to accomplish every golfer’s dream: sink a Masters-winning birdie putt on the final hole.

Twenty years later, O’Meara is signaling that this is likely his last Masters as a player. But the 1998 winner will always have a special place for Augusta in his heart. The 61-year-old talked to Golfweek about the putt, the Masters and its new chairman.

Q: 20 years later, what comes to mind most every time you drive up Magnolia Lane?

A: There’s a couple things that come into play. The memories of going there in 1980 as the U.S. Amateur champion and playing my very first Masters and staying in the Crow’s Nest. I was very nervous, not a very good player, shooting my 80-81. I remember driving up Magnolia Lane that Friday afternoon with my father in the car and my dad looking over at me, and he’s like, ‘Aww you know, I know you’re upset,’ and I’m like ‘Nah, I’m not upset.’ And he goes, ‘Well I know you didn’t play very well,’ and I’m like ‘Dad, you know, I know a couple things.’

Q: Which where?

A: I said, ‘First of all, you know I’m an amateur, I’m not that good, even though I’ve won the U.S. Amateur.’ And I said, ‘Second of all, no matter what happens with my life, at least I got to play at the Masters one time.’

Mark O'Meara from the USA holds up the cup on the18th green, Sunday, July 19, 1998 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, in Southport, in North West England after winning the 1998 British Open Golf Championships.

Mark O’Meara captured the Claret Jug in 1998 at Royal Birkdale. (Getty Images)

Q: Yet you eventually became a Masters champion and contended several other times.

A: I look back at what’s transpired and then to come to 1998 and win when I’m not playing well, don’t have much confidence, and playing practice rounds with Tiger and everything that went with that. I had very low expectations, I’m 41 years of age, nobody has me on their radar screens – including me! So I just think that I have so many incredible memories and so proud of the fact that I have a green jacket. The fact that I’m a very small part of the club is really cool.

Q: You won The Open later that year, but is the Masters your greatest golf accomplishment?

A: I’d say that’s right at the highlight of what anybody could ever dream of. Everybody who loves the game of golf realizes when April comes around, in all of sport, not just golf, everyone knows about the Masters. Sure, they know about the Kentucky Derby, they know about the World Series or Super Bowl. But the Masters is special in the world of sports. To go back every single year, I don’t know whether this will be my last year or not playing – it’s getting close to that time. There will come a point in time where I stop playing, but I’ll still always come and still want to come.

Q: Is the Champions Dinner your highlight of the week?

A: When I hosted in ’99, every living Masters champion who was alive came. Gene Sarazen was still alive and there. Byron Nelson was there. Certainly Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper. Even Jackie Burke, who doesn’t come that often. So, I think that Tuesday night is special, and obviously I’m looking forward to the dinner this year because I’m very happy for Sergio (Garcia) and what’s transpired a little later in his career after all these near-misses. You get to finally break through and be a Masters champion, especially with Jose (Maria Olazabal) and his legacy there at Augusta. I think it’ll be really special to be a small part of that evening with Sergio.

Q: Did you play much amateur golf with Fred Ridley, the new chairman?

A: No. I certainly know of Fred and have played golf with Fred, and in all honesty, I was a little shocked when Billy stepped down. He just did an unreal amount of good for the club. And I know Fred will continue in that legacy. But I was kind of surprised that Fred got the nod. I thought there was someone else at the club who I’m good friends with that is also very good friends with Mr. Payne. But maybe I don’t know how it works at the club. I’ve never asked, you know? And that’s fine. Fred’s got an incredible golf background. The table’s really set for him to keep taking it to the next level, like they do every year at Augusta National. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home