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Mark O'Meara was mentally and physically prepared for Thursday's difficult conditions. (Redington/Getty Images)

O’Meara blog: A respectable score to get started

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Mark O'Meara was pleased with his shotmaking on the back nine en route to an opening 74, but the best part of his day was the nice ovation he got on the 18th green.

Editor's note: Mark O'Meara, who capped a career year in 1998 at Royal Birkdale when he added the Open Championship to his Masters title, is writing a daily blog for PGATOUR.COM this week. This is his fourth installment.

It was trying out there the first six, seven holes with the rain coming down. The guys in the morning certainly played in the bulk of the rain. We played in the wind in the afternoon, but minus the rain so it was a little more scoreable. That's why you saw some better scores in the afternoon like Rocco Mediate holing a wedge on the 17th to finish under par and end up with a share of the lead. I'm pleased, though. Four over is not a great score, but at least it's a respectable score.

I was prepared for this kind of weather, though. Yesterday (Wednesday), it was windy out there. It was kind of like this in 1998 on Friday and Saturday, so it's not a shock to me to see the course play the way it is right now. Half the battle in these tournaments is understanding that everybody's going to have to play in these conditions.

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If you let the conditions beat you up before you even get out there or after you are out there, you're in trouble. You have to try the best you can, know you're going to struggle at times, and not let it get the best of you mentally. Then you can hang in there and total up your scores at the end of the day or at the end of the week and you might have a chance.

The front side I didn't quite strike the ball as well as I would have liked, but that's kind of been the way it's been all year long. I missed a couple of greens and the pitch shots I had weren't that hard but I didn't convert. In the old days, I would have gotten it up and down but this year, I don't. I chip them 4 or 5 feet and I miss them. That's kind of the difference between 70 or 71 and 74 or 75.

On the back side I really hit some quality drives and hit some really nice shots. Like at No. 17, I hit a good drive after waiting about 25 minutes and I hit a long iron, a rescue iron, just off the back edge and two-putted for birdie. It was as good as I can hit a golf shot. So overall, I'd give my rating on the back nine for ball-striking about an 8 1/2 and on the front side I was about a 6 1/2. A 74 is not a great score, but looking at the rest of the scores and some of the guys that have had a tough time out there, it's OK.

I got a nice ovation walking up to the 18th green today. It meant a lot. It's a sign of respect and I did feel very welcomed. The people here are fantastic. This championship to me, being the Open Championship of the world, especially here at Royal Birkdale, brings so many fond memories. They've always respected their past champions and I respect the gallery because they're very polite and very knowledgeable about the game. And to me, that makes this tournament what it is.

Tomorrow I go early, and I know it will be tough. I'd just like to play the front side a little more solidly and make a few more birdies. One birdie is not great. You know you're going to make some bogeys out there. I just need to get the ball a little bit closer to the hole and make some putts. Then we'll see what happens.

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