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October 21, 2009

Sean O'Hair

Q. Can I ask you a question about American golfers playing overseas? Fantastic to have you here, given where you rank in the world, but a criticism often made of American players, particularly top players with the exception of Tiger Woods who does travel around frequently is that they are disinclined and reluctant to leave America, and I guess with all of the money that you make in America, that's understandable. But do you feel as one of the world's leading golfers that once the PGA TOUR finishes, you have an obligation to the rest of the golfing world to play in other parts of the world like New Zealand?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, it's funny that you say that, you know, I don't think the reason why the American golfers stay home is because of money. Because to be honest with you, after the PGA TOUR season is over, you know, most of the money for us to make appearance-wise or just playing-wise is overseas. Because the silly season, we call it in America, there's not a whole lot of money involved there.
So I don't know exactly -- I can't really speak for any other players but myself. I've always wanted to play overseas. I haven't so far yet because of the birth. I've had quite a few kids in the last few years. I've got three children in the last five years. So that's kind of been the reason why I haven't travelled.
But you know, I'm looking forward to travelling to China and travelling to New Zealand and seeing different parts of the world, different golf courses, and playing at a world level. I definitely see myself becoming a world player, not just a PGA TOUR player.

Q. You do talk about family, so what was the pivotal effect that's bringing you over to Hawkes Bay, which is as far as you could probably get from China?
SEAN O'HAIR: Sure. No. 1, I was invited. I've heard that it's a phenomenal event. One of my best friends on TOUR won the event, Hunter Mahan, and he talked about how great of an event it was and how great of a golf course and sight it was.
So to me when I was invited, it was a no-brainer. I think I'm not playing any Fall Series on the PGA TOUR, you know, and to me, I do like to play a little bit during our off-season, and so I looked at it as a great opportunity.

Q. How did your friendship with Hunter come about?
SEAN O'HAIR: I grew up in Texas and so did Hunter. He grew up in the east side of Texas and I grew up in the west side of Texas, and basically we kind of met playing junior golf. And it was really just Texas golf. We always played the Texas Oklahoma Invitational, which is one of the biggest junior events in that area, and we played a lot against one another.
During the junior golf days, I think our fathers got along well and we got along well, and I think we were pretty much best friends out on the junior ranks for quite some time. And then you know, we kind of parted ways because Hunter went to college and I took a different route. I turned pro at 17. So you know, we didn't see much of one another for quite some time, and then you know, when I got on TOUR in '05, he was already on TOUR.
So you know, we kind of got back together and you know, Hunter and I have always gotten along well. I don't know what it is; we just feel comfortable with one another. We practice together and have the same coach. I would say he's my best friend on TOUR, that's for sure.

Q. Do you see a lot of each other both during the TOUR and out of TOUR time?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, off the TOUR, we don't see much of one another, because I live in Philadelphia and he lives in Dallas, and so you know, it's kind of hard.
But like for instance, Presidents Cup it was great to hang out with him. It was a fantastic experience being with him as a team in the first day of The Presidents Cup, and even though we lost, it was a great experience and something I'll never forget. It was pretty cool. He and I were sitting there talking when we were paired together, we were talking about that moment since we were 11, 12 years old and it was pretty cool that that actually happened.
It was a great experience and something that I'll never forget.

Q. Do you think you have any advantage over the other players --
SEAN O'HAIR: I don't know about that. I think that you have four of the top "young guns" I guess you could say out on TOUR or who play worldwide or what have you want to call it. I'm not going to sit there and say that, you know, just because I've been a pro for, I guess, ten years now, that I've got an edge on those guys. I think we are all playing fairly well. I know Camilo is playing really well, h has been playing really well this year, AK is always playing really well, and to be honest with you, I think it's going to be a shootout.
It's going to be very entertaining and I think there's going to be a lot of birdies and I really think it's just a matter of who makes the most birdies. It should be a lot of fun, and hopefully, hopefully I come out on top. We'll see.

Q. Somewhere on the US PGA TOUR this year, you apparently hit your drive a tee shot 412 yards. Can you remember it and can you tell us something about it?
SEAN O'HAIR: Did it say which golf course? You know what, it's funny, when they measure those things, they don't tell us how far we hit it. It was probably somewhere out in the desert.
It was probably for the Match Play in Tucson, Arizona. You know, the golf course was playing very firm. Obviously it's very dry out there and I probably hit three or four sprinkler heads in the middle of the fairway. That's the only way I could figure I hit it 400 yards.

Q. I thought you might have had a very strong wind behind you.
SEAN O'HAIR: I think "strong" is an understatement. It was probably gale force.

Q. I just wanted to ask you if there was one area of your game that you felt that you had to improve, what would that be?
SEAN O'HAIR: That I have to improve? With putting, normally I'll have some really good stretches and then I'll have some really bad stretches. And if you look at stat-wise, that's pretty much the area that I've always struggled in.
So I don't see it's a matter of, you know, I'm a bad putter. I just think I need to get a little bit more consistent. I think I definitely -- when I'm inconsistent, when I'm not putting well, it tends to be really bad. I tend to try and force making putts, so I 3-putt quite a bit and so really it's just a matter of not -- I guess being a little bit more patient on the greens and eliminating those 3-putts.
CRAIG SMITH: The guys here in New Zealand maybe don't know or didn't read about the putting tip that Tiger helped you with. Do you want to go through some of that stuff?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think at TOUR Championship, Tiger just kind of showed me a few things. We played a practice round together and I just was asking him some questions about his putting stroke and what he works on.
And we were just kind of -- basically I just was picking his brain a little bit, and he was kind of showing me what he does with his stroke which is the fact opposite of what I was taught. You know, he tends to try to add loft on his putter going back and he tends to release the face going through. I've always been deloft it and take it back shut and basically block everything.
So I've tried to -- over the years, I've tried to gradually change my stroke, and it's getting better. And basically he just kind of confirmed some of the things that I've worked on and that I've worked on with my coach.

Q. If I remember right, you then turned around and gave Tiger quite a hard time at THE TOUR Championship, didn't you?
SEAN O'HAIR: I don't know about that, but I putted fairly well that week, and I putted nicely at The Presidents Cup. So it was a nice way to finish off the year.

Q. You obviously took a slightly different route to the way you ended up becoming a professional golfer. Do you feel you've missed out on something, or do you think you made the right decision?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think I wouldn't recommend it if I was teaching a kid, or I wouldn't recommend it for my children.
And yeah, I think I missed out on a few things. I know that basically everybody playing in this event, except me, went to college and had experiences and had a good time and basically have friends because of going to college or whatever. And I think, you know, socially, I missed out.
But I learned a lot, too, from turning professional at 17. I went through a lot of hard times on the mini-tours and playing against guys twice my age, and a lot of very valuable learning lessons, I guess you could say, and really lessons that you couldn't -- you couldn't have in college.
And so I think because of those hard times, I appreciate -- I definitely appreciate where I am and enjoy where I am. And not saying that these guys don't, because they do, but I definitely in my case, I feel like the hard times definitely make the good times a lot more enjoyable.

Q. Why did you decide to do it that way and not go to college?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think I felt I was better than I really was and, I think my dad felt like I was better than I really was. And it was just one of those decisions that once you do it, you can't do anything about it. I was originally going to go to University of Florida for college golf, and decided to turn professional.
You know, I think really in the long run, I really do think it helped me and I think it helped my career and it helped me as a person, as well.
CRAIG SMITH: Thank you so much.

End of FastScripts

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