Nick O'Hern Interview - Accenture World Match Play
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2007 Accenture Match Play Championship | Round Three | 24 Feb 2007
Q: Nick, thanks for coming in and joining us. Terrific victory there. Not too many people can get the better of Tiger Woods these days, but you’ve done it twice now in a couple of years. Talk us through the emotions of the day.
Nick O’Hern: Yeah, the back nine was pretty stomach churning. I got off to a nice start, playing pretty solidly, and Tiger obviously had his problems. So I was just trying to shoot one shot better than him on those couple of holes where he had a few problems, and I knew he was going to make a run at me on the back nine.
It was just important for me to force him to make birdies to beat me on holes. A lot of those pins I couldn’t really get to. So par was a good score for me. I tried to pick my moments when I could attack holes. Birdie on 17 was nice, to get that in to get a 1-up cushion.
I knew he was going to make birdie on 18. Tried to make my putt there, and then he let me off the hook on the 19th so things went my way.
Q: What were you thinking when you stood over that putt?
Nick O’Hern: My caddie gave me another ball and said, Okay, next hole. I said, Mate, he doesn’t miss these. It happens. Then it was just time to regroup and put a good swing on the next tee shot.
Q: You got 4 up after 7. What were you thinking when he came back to get it back to all square?
Nick O’Hern: I knew it was going to happen. Tiger is No. 1 in the world for a reason, and he’s not going to play poor golf for any extended period of time. The good thing was I just told myself I’ve been in this situation before and I know how to handle it, and it’s a matter of how you handle it is the most important thing.
When he’s coming at you like that, you can lose your focus and play poor golf, but I still played nice, solid golf. As I said, I forced him to make a lot of birdies, which he did. He’s No. 1 in the world for a reason, and it was a heck of a match in the end.
Q: After he drove it into the water on 4 and it took him about 12 or 13 minutes to hit his next shot, what were you doing to stay warm?
Nick O’Hern: I put an extra jacket on so I had about five layers at that stage. As the day went on my back was seizing up and my swing was getting shorter and shorter. It was important to ball keep the ball in play and force him to hit good shots.
Match play is all about I guess applying momentum and pressure. My game is built on consistency, fairways and greens. I’m not going to make too many mistakes and he obviously knew that. You know, that tee shot on that hole where he hit it in the water, I was actually thinking, I don’t think he can hit this to the fairway, because it was straight into the breeze.
Driver 3-wood and I’m still short of the green. Sp the course played very long today. It was just important for me to keep the ball in play, and he made some mistakes early which gave me a bit of a cushion. As expected he came back.
Q: How much pride do you take away from beating him twice?
Nick O’Hern: Not many people can say that, I guess. You know, to beat him once was an amazing thrill, and I’m sure he wanted to even the score today. I just knew if I played well and I played solidly I could do it again because I’ve been in this situation before.
You know, it’s something to tell the grandkids, I guess.
Q: Early in the round it did not seem like Tiger was conceding any putts, especially when he was out of the hole, making double bogey. On the 15th hole you concede a putt to him when you were kind of out of it. Any type of strategy as far as what you do when you get in situations like that with putts or conceding putts, that type of thing?
Nick O’Hern: No, he had a ten-footer and he only needed a two-putt. I think my mother could two-putt from there to be honest (laughter). I hope she didn’t — well, it doesn’t matter.
No, you know, I have a little bit of a strategy with conceding putts and not conceding putts myself. But you’re not going to fool Tiger too much.
You know, I have a little bit of a ploy every now and then in match play that I use, but today was — if he’s going to make it, he’s going to make it.
Q: How bad was your line in the bunker at the extra hole there? Was that a tough shot?
Nick O’Hern: Well, it was because the pin was on a bit of a knob at the back. Some of the pins they’ve given us today were just — you’re almost thinking about putting off the greens on a couple of them. It wasn’t a very nice lie and I’m having a bit of trouble with the sand here. It’s quite a thick grain.
The long bunker shots with the tough ones. The shorter ones are not so bad. I felt as though I hit a really good bunker shot and it was still 12 feet away, which probably didn’t look too good. But I was pretty pleased because I gave myself an uphill put and I had a 12-footer on the line there for birdie, so I figured I’d give myself a nice uphill putt and I could make it.
Q: Take us through the putt on 17.
Nick O’Hern: That was about a right half putt up the little. I hit two lovely shots in there. I had 3-wood or 4-wood and I was in between. Long was better because I was chipping back into the wind for my third shot. I just wanted to put myself past the hole.
If it went in, great. Past the hole and I had ten feet, and I thought, Well, this is the perfect opportunity. Just hit a good stroke on it, and I hit it right where I wanted and straight in.
Q: Two quick questions: Was it lonely out there? Because I’m sure the galleries made their feelings known.
Nick O’Hern: They were pretty vocal. There was a couple of weird comments on some of the tees there. But it’s kind of part and parcel when you’re playing amongst so many people, and that’s golf and that’s sport these days. You’re going to hear some things that maybe you don’t agree with, but so be it.
It’s a matter of blocking that out and getting on with the job. There was a few Aussies out there, so that was nice.
Q: What was the weirdest comment you heard?
Nick O’Hern: Oh, I can’t repeat it (laughter).
Q: Also, I know you beat him two years ago, but given his current streak, is this maybe an even bigger achievement for you?
Nick O’Hern: Yeah, that’s right, he was going for eight in a row, wasn’t he (laughter)? I don’t pay too much attention to it, to be honest. Tiger is Tiger. He wins tournaments all over the world and he’s a fantastic player. I’ve just got to worry about my game, and I’ve got a nice semifinal tomorrow against Henrik Stenson. I’m going to be 40 yards behind him tomorrow, so that will be interesting.
Q: It’s only a quarter actually?
Nick O’Hern: Sorry, quarter.
Q: You mentioned Henrik Stenson. How do you goo about preparing for that match after today? Obviously you’d be pretty drained I would guess. And what’s your record against him?
Nick O’Hern: I’ve never played him in match play. My preparation is going to be a nice hot bath tonight because it was freezing out there. I mean, talk about — it wasn’t too bad, it was more like the European Tour, really. We play in these conditions up in Scotland. I’ve played with Henrik a lot. Lovely guy, and it’s going to be a heck of a match.
Just — again, I’ve got to pick my holes to attack because I have to look at these pin positions again. The problem you have with not playing this course before and not seeing a lot of it is you think, Okay, the pin is here. Let’s leave ourselves in this position to give ourselves an uphill putt, and actually it’s not an uphill putt.
It’s pretty tough when you play a new course and they put these pins on some of these knobs which they’re doing. Par is a good score on a lot of the holes.
Q: Can you give us some perspective on the second playoff hole? You hit it left and obviously you had a fairway wood in your hand and were 30, 40 yards back. Obviously you’re in trouble. What are you thinking about? How difficult Tiger’s was shot, or did it look definitely to you and were you just expecting him to kind of run it up short and run it on the green?
Nick O’Hern: This is on the second playoff hole?
Q: Second playoff hole.
Nick O’Hern: He was in the middle of the fairway. I don’t know what iron he had in, but it wasn’t an easy shot. The wind was whipping in pretty quick. I figured he was going to put it in the middle of the green, and I was just trying to figure out a way to make 4. I figured 4 would be a halve, not a win.
Q: Also he said he missed seeing a mark between his ball and the hole that he just kind of overlooked it. Did you see that mark at all —
Nick O’Hern: The first playoff hole?
Q: The first playoff hole.
Nick O’Hern: No, not really. I had a similar putt to him, a little bit shorter. I had about a three-footer. I think his was four feet, similar line. What I did notice about the putt is it could have gone either way. It was on a bit of a shelf. It wasn’t an easy putt. It needed to be struck firmly. Obviously it hit something and he missed. We all do that; we’re human.
Q: He was saying that it hit the left side of a ball mark that he did not repair, did not see it, and it kind of jumped right. Did you see any odd movement to the ball?
Nick O’Hern: Not really. I wasn’t watching, to be honest. I was just waiting for the sound of ball going into hole (laughter).
Q: Were you aware that they cut the greens on the extra holes?
Nick O’Hern: Really? No, I hadn’t actually.
Q: Tiger wasn’t aware of that.
Nick O’Hern: No, I didn’t. I didn’t actually notice it too much. The first playoff hole I hit a beautiful putt, thought I made it. Second playoff hole, I did make it. You know, it was — the greens looked the same to me.
Q: What did you play the second hole, driver, what?
Nick O’Hern: A hybrid club. I had the same — I was about 8 meters further back the second time around.
Q: How far was that?
Nick O’Hern: I had 210 meters to the hole, so that’s, what, 231 yards.
Q: How long was the putt?
Nick O’Hern: I’d say about 12 feet.
Q: Nick, congratulations again. Good luck tomorrow.
Source – WGC