The night before I went out with friends and my mom and dad and I had a great marinated rib eye. We went back to the house and went to bed probably around 10:30 or so. I was staying with some people whom I'd met through a friend in Memphis. My wife hadn't made the trip because our second child was due in a few weeks.
I wore khaki pants and a shirt that matched. I think it was beige, patterned. It was clean and it was in my suitcase. A writer said I looked drab and boring. I guess I was supposed to wear pink pants.
I was nervous on the first tee on Sunday. I'll bet Tiger's nervous on the first tee, too. I think he was in the top two in every category that year, and nobody drove the ball longer and straighter.
I was very confident with my irons. In my mind I could hit first all day and put the pressure on him, because I sure as heck wasn't going to do that in a driving contest. I knew we were going to play two different golf courses, and on the first hole I thought he'd pulled his tee shot. There was a tree 276 yards out, but he was trying to go over it. His ball kept rising. Mine landed somewhere near the base of it.
Both of us grew up in Southern California, so we were familiar with each other's games, which might have helped me. We never got to compete against each other because I'm seven years older, but I had a lot of junior records he was chasing and broke. I think he knew that I was a good player. I was playing some good golf, too. I had just defended at the British Masters, finished in the top 10. I was very confident.
I don't know if I buy into the idea that I had nothing to lose. No one ever has anything to lose. People put that pressure on themselves because of the size of the gallery or whatever. The way I look at it is that the fans are out there because they can't do what you do, and they want to see you perform. I think if you think about it that way it eases your mind.
I never got sucked into it, but there were some shots I remember like yesterday. He hit a 2-iron from like 260 on 10 that was so high it was a joke. They picked it up at the airport probably. It ended up just short of the green, hit the top of a bunker and rolled back. His drive on 17 in regulation play was just enormous. Almost at its peak it kind of disappeared, then reappeared on the way down.
We talked pretty much the first nine holes, but on the back nine we went into our zones. It wasn't a two-man race until after 12. We both birdied 10, I birdied 11, we both birdied 12. We were separating from the rest of the field.
I never looked at a leaderboard until I went to hit my second putt on 18. It was about 15 feet and I wanted to know how hard I could hit it. We were five shots clear of the field.
In the end, I didn't get caught up in his game. I kept to my game plan; I'd played well the previous two days and the conditions were about the same Sunday. I didn't play Tiger, I played the course, but I also never felt comfortable that I had him beat.