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August 21, 2014

Hunter Mahan


KELLY BARNES:  Just want to say, welcome.  

Q.  Does this suit you, this place?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, this is kind of a no‑nonsense golf course.¬† You've got to hit it well off the tee.
I think of all the tournaments we probably played this year, this one is the most demanding off the tee.  You've got to really hit it in the fairway.  You can't play out of the rough on this golf course.  The rough is too thick and you can't attack the greens.
Even if you do get a decent lie, it's pretty tough to get it anywhere near a hole.¬† So hit fairways, hitting greens, giving yourself a lot of good looks is‑‑ like everyone says, it's the best way to play this golf course.¬† Even if it's pretty safe off the tee, greens are so big, you still can be somewhat aggressive on your seconds.¬† But if you don't place it in the fairway, you're not going to score out here.

Q.  You have the course record here.  Good vibes coming back here?  Is there any similarities between today's round and that?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, it was in the morning.  I remember I played in the morning when I shot that round and it might have been similar conditions.  It's perfect right now, not too hot, not too cold.  Being third off was nice because the greens were just in perfect shape so you could make a lot of putts.
So there probably was some similarities.  Like I said, I get on this golf course and I just feel comfortable and I feel like it kind of suits my strengths.

Q.¬† How much do you think about Ryder Cup?¬† You're in the middle of the Playoffs, trying to do that, but you know that if you make a good push the next few weeks‑‑ is that in the back of your mind?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Not really.  I mean right now, it's just about, I feel like I've got a lot to play for, and now is the time to trust everything and just go out there and just play golf.
Like I said, it will be a bonus to make it to Atlanta and it will be a bonus right now to make The Ryder Cup Team.  So I have nothing to be nervous about or get out there and doubt myself.  I have to trust myself because everything I'm doing is good and everything else will kind of take care of itself.

Q.¬† If somebody had told you you were the only player to be in all the Playoffs‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I've heard that before, and you know, I take great pride in that fact.  It's a pretty neat thing to have that kind of consistency and to make it to Atlanta kind of every year is pretty neat.
I want to continue that obviously but it's neat to have that kind of distinction because that's a lot of consistent good, playing every single year and good playing in the Playoffs, because you can kind of definitely lose it during these three weeks and not have your best and obviously you can kind of slip out of there.
Yeah, it's neat to have that kind of distinction I guess.

Q.¬† Is there any reason for it?¬† Are you a second‑half‑of‑the‑year‑type of player?¬† Do the FedEx Playoffs mean more to you maybe than other guys?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No, I don't think so.¬† I think it's just‑‑ like I say, it's probably just consistency.¬† I think some years I haven't won, I've played really consistent pretty well and other years that I've won, I haven't played as well.¬† I haven't finished as high in the FedExCup but if you do win in the FedExCup during those tournaments, it's a huge, huge advantage, huge bonus.¬† Obviously everyone wants to win but it seems like in golf, winning, it takes you to an even higher place.
Rickie with four Top‑5s in Majors is just unbelievable in calendar year but he would give them all up for one major.¬† That's just how this game works.¬† I think it's just been some good luck along the way, as well, to do that.¬† It's kind of a fluke kind of thing to play that consistent and that well and not be hurt for a couple months or something.¬† It always seems like something could happen to you.

Q.  You haven't won since 2012 and you've been playing intermittently some good golf so what's been missing?  Can you put your finger on what has not been there for you?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I definitely went through a period where I didn't hit it as well as I normally do, and I think that kind of weighed on me more than it should have.  Got a little bit too frustrated at times more than I should have.
I feel like it's a good time, good opportunity, being 33 years old, to look at myself, look at my game and look at how I do things and examine them; and am I getting the most out of myself every week, every day, am I working the way I need to, and just question everything and make sure I'm doing the best that I can with what I have.
So I've been thinking about that over a month or two, thought fully about it and I think right now in the last month or so, I've really been focusing on the details of myself and my game.  Making sure that I don't waste any shots on the course and when I'm practicing.  I want to make sure everything is very, very precise and treat it the right way to get the most out of myself.

Q.  When you weren't getting the most out of yourself, when was that?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† It was basically the middle part of the year, from Augusta, Houston‑‑ Houston to the British, because the British, I actually played pretty well and hit it pretty good.¬† But there was just a lack of control and I just didn't have any kind of control over my game.¬† Just hit some weird shots that I usually don't hit.

Q.  There's a groundswell of support of Foley saying that he's bad for Tiger's game.  You being around Foley a lot and also having observe the two of them work together, what's your reaction to people saying that?
HUNTER MAHAN:  It's comical and most likely are people that have no idea who Sean Foley is and what he's doing and obviously no one knows Tiger so you're not going to get anything there.
Most of the people haven't made any sort of effort to get to know Sean and understand what he's trying to do.¬† Because I know there's numerous guys and analysts who have made efforts to call Foley and e‑mail him, what are you guys working on, to kind of understand what they are doing and what he's trying to do.¬† And understanding that most people that talk about it, don't have any understanding of what's going on.
I hear them and I see their background and it's like, well, you don't even deserve it because you don't even know anything.¬† It's comical the power some people have without doing any sort of homework.¬† It frustrates me and kind of angers me a little bit.¬† But you know, that's the world we live in and that's just kind of the way things are, and Foley is better for it because he can handle a guy like Tiger‑‑ a lot comes with that and I think he's done a pretty good job of containing himself and not letting it bother him.¬† He just does his job every day and does it better than anyone.

Q.  What are the things that he's done for you, the most tangible things since you've been with him that he's done?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Well, a complete understanding of the golf swing and why things happen.¬† And I mean, his understanding of the swing and the game in general is just really impressive.¬† He's kind of been the pioneer of biomechanics and science of golf and why things are the way they are.¬† Sean always wanted to know why he does that, why are you going to tell me to do this, if it doesn't ‑‑ if it really make sense and hit it right.
Golf has been so old school; it's so old and people have theories and formulas and I think people like that.  They like to have their own ideas when the truth is out there and you just have to search for it and that's what Sean's done and he's done it with different people and he's not afraid to call somebody or ask somebody's help, who like have nothing to do with golf because they have a lot of information and he's kind of found the answers kind of within that.  His work ethic is really second to none and that's kind of what I appreciate about him.

Q.  Sean played in college and seems like he's a good player but not at the level that you guys are, but he's done all this research and he does what he does for you guys, it's an interesting dynamic?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, playing golf doesn't excite him.  Hitting one pure iron shot and knowing why that happened excites him.  Hitting on the range and just hitting shots, hitting iron shots and seeing the flight and the sound; he just loves all that stuff.
Because when we get on the golf course, it's all about getting a score out of it.  It's not how pretty it is.  It's about figuring out how to score that day and what do I have to do and how do I have to adjust things.  He's more interested in how high the ball is going on a certain flight and he always wanted to know why, why things were the way they were.  But as a teacher he's grown a lot since I met him.  His understanding of the game and of what it takes to be a great pro or what it takes to play well, it's been unbelievable the past few years.  He's really taken, I don't want to say a psychological ploy approach but just an understanding of the mental side of the game of golf.

Q.  How did you come to him?  Was Justin with him before you?  Or you were before just in?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Sean O'Hair is a buddy of mine and started working with him and just telling me about him, so I kind of inquired and started working with each other at the 2007 PGA I think.

Q.  I understand about ten percent of what Foley tells me.
HUNTER MAHAN:  He uses big words.

Q.  How much do you understand or does it take a long time to understand him?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† For sure, I know‑‑ yeah, like I said, he uses the big words.¬† He's a very intelligent human being.¬† He reads a ton about stuff.¬† But I do understand because language is a big part of teaching.
You've got to understand what someone's saying and that sounds remedial but it's very, very true.  He knows me very, very well and I know him very well so we have a great understanding of what each person is saying.  He knows how to talk to me.  He talks to me differently than he talks to Rosey or Tiger or anybody else.  That takes time to know your guy and when to know kind of when to get on him or back off and just let them figure it out because they are having a mental episode.
He's very open and it's easy to talk to him and say, I don't like this; okay, let's figure something else out.  He doesn't take anything personally which is good.

Q.  The Ryder Cup that you guys lost, you were with him at that point, right?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, that was 2010.

Q.  Did he talk to you about that afterwards at all?  What was his reaction?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† That was a long time ago but I think he would just say, oh, wasn't me and played great‑‑ there's really nothing to, it's not one of those things to make a mountain out of a mole hill.¬† Let's not grind on this or make this moment bigger than it actually is.¬† I think that was his general message and things we were just trying to do.¬† It was just a moment and it didn't‑‑ that day just didn't go my way.

Q.  Was that a pretty powerful impact to have somebody Chicago?
HUNTER MAHAN:  He called me afterwards, and everyone was pretty awesome.  Talked to Furyk after the round and it was just a cool sense of people coming to your side and just talking to you about it and giving their input and their kind of two cents and their experience.  You're not going to do anything without getting kicked in the teeth a little bit because that's a part of life and it's how you react to things, not kind of what happens.

Q.  Are you burning to get back into that scenario?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Sure, there's nothing like playing a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, a team event like that.¬† I mean, it really has taken a life of its own since Azinger became captain and kind of invited‑‑ made the crowd a part of the event.¬† I think he was the first one to really do that and since then everyone uses the crowd to their advantage because it is an advantage, 100 percent.¬† It's such a unique, special event to be a part of and every player that has played in one‑‑ every player wants to be a part of one but once you have been, you want to get there almost even more than guys who haven't just because you know what you're experiencing and you know what you're missing.

Q.¬† You're on the cusp right now‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  You never know.  Absolutely.

Q.  You've had a stigma a little bit of a guy who always gets picked.

Q.  And now that you need a pick, I assume it's better to be a guy that always gets picked than the guy who doesn't get picked.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Sure, absolutely.  That's my thing, I've always been nine or ten.  It not like, okay, I've been 20.  But I've always been right on the edge and that's always bothered me because it's like, I want to be in it and don't have to worry about it.
But I've always been right on the cusp there and got a pretty good record, pretty good singles, teams and stuff.  I think I'm pretty easy to get along with and get along with a lot of different guys and stuff like that.  We all love to play in them but I think some guys maybe get into more or relish it more than others.  It's so much fun to be a part of that week and that event.

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