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March 15, 2010

Sean O'Hair

LEE PATTERSON: Good afternoon. Pleasure to welcome you to today's conference call with Sean O'Hair, who will be defending his Quail Hollow Championship title April 26 through May 2nd. As you all may remember, Sean recorded rounds of 69, 72, 67, and 69 for an 11 under par, 277 total. And his performance last year was good enough for a one-stroke victory over both Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover. Sean, we want to thank you again for spending some time with us today.
SEAN O'HAIR: Not a problem.
LEE PATTERSON: Perhaps you might start by reflecting on what winning the Quail Hollow Championship has meant to you for the past ten months?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I think winning the Quail Hollow Championship has been my biggest win. It was a huge step for me, you know, due to, I guess, the golf course and obviously the field that plays in the event. You know, it's really kind of catapulted my career ever since I won.
LEE PATTERSON: Can you also share with us about that final hour on Sunday? You birdied 16, then you had a couple of hiccups coming in and then had to wait a little bit with a lead.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I played very well on the weekend. The whole week I struck the ball very well. As I remember, I don't think I made -- I don't think I made a putt over 10 feet the whole week. So, obviously, that just goes to show you how well I hit the ball.
The last few holes are very difficult on that golf course. You know, especially 17 and 18. And really it was just one of those situations where I kind of put myself in a position to win and hit a pretty decent shot on 17 right after I birdied 16. Pretty difficult up-and-down.
But really on 17, I think it was a two shot, you know. I basically just wanted to keep it on the right side of the green and try to make it up-and-down there, didn't. Then hit two good quality shots on 18 and three-putted.
So it wasn't how I wanted to finish, but I can't really look at that. I played very well all week, and it was nice to pull it out.

Q. When you look back on last year at Quail Hollow, is there a single memory that stands out? One thing that keeps popping back in your mind from that time?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think it was just I stepped on the golf course during the practice rounds and I really liked the setup. It was a lot different than years prior. Shorter rough, but kind of let you hit a lot more drivers off the tees. It just felt like you could make mistakes.
In years past, I hadn't played very well there because I hadn't driven the ball well in the past. And obviously with the big rough, you know, it's difficult to do that. But last year I just felt very comfortable on the golf course. That is one thing I definitely remember from last year.

Q. You dealt with a stress fracture last year. Can you assess where you are health-wise, game-wise? You played very well yesterday at Doral.
SEAN O'HAIR: I've been struggling a little bit with the stress fracture. Early in the year, I found out about it -- when was it? It was in the off-season. And basically just tried to heal it up as good as possible by really not doing anything. Went to Hawaii, wasn't fully recovered yet.
But as of now, I think it's pretty much healed up. There's pain every now and then with it due to scar tissue because I guess I fractured it at Colonial, and it was still fractured in the off-season. So there was quite a bit of tissue there that I just got to continue to work through and break up.
But other than that, I feel good. The game is coming around, and I'm looking forward to having another good year.

Q. You're going into next week or this week where you've won before, and you're kind of hitting a stride where you seem very comfortable on the golf courses. Can you talk about where you are following that 66 yesterday? And how you feel like you are in the run up to the Masters and Quail Hollow?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, you know, the ball striking has been a little bit sketchy this year. Believe it or not, my putting is really good right now which normally is not the case this time of year.
So last week I kind of started seeing a change in the driver. The driver is really hitting it a lot farther than I have in quite some time. Starting to get the driving speed back to where I want it.
I think the improvements this year have been with the short game. I haven't been as many making bogeys and doubles as in years past, but unfortunately I haven't been making as many birdies.
So I was looking at my stats the last couple of weeks and I definitely noticed some room for improvement with the wedge game. Not quite -- I'm not quite there yet with that. My proximity to the hole is not very good right now. So my birdie opportunities aren't as many as they should be.
I definitely saw a huge improvement the last two days at Doral. And I'm quite excited about this week. I feel very comfortable on the golf course, and obviously I won here a year ago, and I kind of like how the game is falling into place. It's a good time to have the game come back.

Q. When at Quail Hollow, did you get the reception more from other players about what a quality field and tournament that is maybe more so than your other victories?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I don't know if there was so much an acceptance from the players. I mean it was a pretty good event. But I think more for myself was kind of like, you know what, I won on a quality golf course against a quality field. So I think it's been more for me than anybody else.

Q. Going back there in May, do you take a different approach when you won at a place already and you go back?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think you just feel a little bit more confident or you feel more comfortable than you have. And obviously when I stepped on the golf course last year and before I played a practice round on it, you know, I haven't played well there before. So its one of those venues where I'm going to mind my own business and hopefully I'll play well. And luckily I won the golf tournament.
So now I'm definitely going to be a lot more comfortable than in years past there. So when you feel comfortable, it's going to affect your play in a positive way.

Q. You said you were having problems with your wedge play. Does that have anything to do with the grooves?
SEAN O'HAIR: I definitely think there is an issue there. Last year I wasn't able to do a lot of practices with my fractured arm. This winter I did no practice at all. That's been the biggest affect on my wedge play and all my games. So, you know, I'm now just being able to practice the way I want to practice. And I'm starting to see improvement.
But I will say there is a little bit of an affect with the grooves. But that's just a matter of time before I can use that.

Q. I want to talk to you about the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year. There must have been disappointment right there. Tiger making a putt on you, yet you rebounded well at the Masters and Quail Hollow. Can you take us back to Tiger making the putt on you, how it affected you, and just what happened with your game after?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think all in all, Bay Hill was a very positive week for me. It was the first time that I really dominated a golf tournament. I was five shots in the lead after three days. And so I think that was definitely something that could give me a ton of confidence.
Any time you get to play against the best player in the world, the final group in a golf tournament, it's a positive thing whether you perform or not.
Unfortunately, I just did not -- I just didn't get it done on the front nine. I played very well on the back nine, and actually the year before last year it was kind of a similar situation. I definitely have learned something from Bay Hill, and I kind of credited Bay Hill for my win at Wachovia.

Q. It's a Tiger question. Can you just talk to how curious players will be as to the state of Tiger's game when he comes back?
SEAN O'HAIR: I'm sorry? What was that question again?

Q. How curious are players as to what the state of Tiger's game will be when he returns? What are you expecting when he does?
SEAN O'HAIR: I expect no less than how it was when he left, if not better. I think, obviously, he's dealing with a lot of issues right now, but I expect him to return ready to play and ready to win. So I don't know the curiosity of players, but it sounds like he's going to be returning fairly quickly. I think when he does, he's going to be in top shape. And if not, close to it.

Q. What has the Tour been like so far this year? Can you give us an overview of the way things are without Tiger and the other things going on?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think it's -- it has been pretty much business as usual. But I think we miss Tiger. We want our best player out there. I think when you win a golf tournament, you'd like for him to be in the field, because it adds that much more to your win and to the tournament and really to the game.
So I just think Tiger's such an asset for the sport and to the Tour. I'm looking forward to him coming back.

Q. Wanted to ask you a little more about your injury. You mentioned I guess it happening at Colonial. Did it go undiagnosed for a time, or were you just trying to play through it? Or did you not know the severity of it? Either way, did you do yourself any harm by playing?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, as far as I know what happens, I think what happened. I actually remember the exact shot where I hurt myself at Colonial. But I just thought it was kind of a tendonitis-type thing. I was obviously quite concerned, because it kept getting worse and worse.
Finally, in the end of the year I just figured that I better get it checked out. And I talked with the doctor and he said, you know, you've got a stress fracture in your forearm, and that's obviously what's causing the pain. If you're going to be injured, this is the type of injury you want because there is no surgery or anything like that necessary. You just take some time off and let it heal up.
So he said it should recover actually a little stronger than it was in the past, but I've got to breakthrough that scar tissue which is a little bit painful. But I don't think there's any long-term damage or anything like that.

Q. Do you recall it affecting you at any time throughout the rest of the year? Did it keep you performing in any tournament that you remember?
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I think I played quite well the first two days at Colonial. Then on the weekend I started getting some severe pain in my forearm. And in the next week at Memorial I had to actually pull out due to the pain. So there were some times where it was painful, and I really had to tone back my practice. I couldn't practice nearly as much.
Later on in the year, I couldn't practice at all. And I remember this year at Hawaii on Sunday I couldn't even warm up. I hit a few balls on the range and I just said, no, I don't know if I'm going to be able to play today. I took some Advil and kind of was able to play well somehow. I don't know how, but I did.
So it's not affecting he me as far as practice or my play anymore, but I definitely think there are some scenarios last year where it affected my play.

Q. What was the shot that you hit at Colonial?
SEAN O'HAIR: It was during practice on Tuesday. I just got done with a practice round and I was working on my impact position. It was very hot there, the ground was very firm, and I just got the shot. And I remember there being a very sharp pain, and I couldn't really do my practice from there on.
The next day I didn't really feel much pain at all, and I didn't actually feel any pain until a few days later on Saturday.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you for joining us.

End of FastScripts

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