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August 24, 2014

Hunter Mahan


LAURA NEAL:  Hunter Mahan, our 2014 Barclays Champion, moves to No. 1 in the FedExCup.  Just give us your reaction, aside from breaking the trophy two seconds ago, we'll talk about that in a second, about this win and moving to No. 1.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Obviously it feels great to win The Barclays, to be the champion in this event is something I kind of‑‑ even going into this week I felt like the game was in good order, and this golf course, that I like.¬† It suits my game, and you have to get it to the fairways and to the greens.¬† You can't play from the rough.
I just felt good about kind of how I was playing going into this week and just stayed calm in my head and just relax and my swing and my game and just let everything happen, and it did and obviously made some huge putts coming down the stretch.
So obviously this means a lot and this is kind of the biggest win in the sense of what comes with it, having a chance to win the FedExCup.  A lot has changed from Saturday and Sunday.  That's for sure.

Q.  Curious, at what point, when do Ryder Cup implications settle into your thinking?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I've been thinking about it for a few weeks.  Just the unfortunate things that have happened to the guys on the team, seems like it's let a lot of guys in.  I don't know who he's thinking about or what his process is, but I need a strong couple weeks, a strong major and a strong couple Playoff events, to have a chance.
Obviously a win, it helps a lot.  Obviously playing well at the PGA helped a lot.  So obviously I have no idea what he's thinking or if he has any sort of strategy.  But I think a win is a good step in the right direction.

Q.  When did you see your wife and daughter, and when did you know they were here and what did you think when you saw them?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Obviously the first time I saw them was when I turned around and was walking through the tunnel and there was Zoe just kind of walking around.  I was almost in shock I think, because I'm kind of wondering where Jason is and what he's got left.
And all of a sudden, there's my wife and daughter and I'm like, wait a minute, should they be on the green or not, what do we do.  There was a lot going on in my head and it was hard to keep everything kind of straight.  They didn't come in week and I wasn't planning to see them till tomorrow.  Obviously to see them right now and to win is a special feeling.

Q.  Does this make up for the Canadian Open when you left for the birth?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, you know, nothing to make up for it but feels good to be back in contention and get a win.  I was playing great that week, as well but you never know what could have happened.  It feels good to get a W.  It's been a couple years, and it feels good the way I did it with a great round on Sunday.

Q.  And secondly, what happened to the trophy?
HUNTER MAHAN:  The trophy?  I don't know.  I don't know what you're talking about (laughter).

Q.  Laura?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I'm her press agent.  All questions go through me. (Laughter).

Q.  You have the course record here, 62 before this week; do you seem to play better as the season goes on?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Well, I don't think so.¬† I try to break it down into one day at a time.¬† I've thought about that.¬† I've thought about all that stuff and it's just about having a good day and try to get better and try to know what I need to do to get better.¬† And that continuation of work from day‑to‑day I think will lead to good results.
I felt that and I felt going into even the British Open, I was doing the right things and things were turning around and I was getting better.  I obviously played good, solid at Bridgestone and the PGA.  I just need to continue to work and keep going and I needed to focus myself a little bit after the middle part of the year.
You know, there's really never a bad time to play good golf, and this is a really, really good time to play good golf.  But yeah, I would like to peak at this time every year.  That would be ideal, that's for sure.

Q.  You said that you envisioned a win this week.  Whatever feeling that is, have you ever had it before in another tournament?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I felt at Travelers.  I felt really good.  I remember sitting on the range Sunday morning at Travelers hitting balls and I just thought, this is my time.  This is going to happen.  I saw myself winning.  I saw myself making the putts.  At the Match Play, it was kind of the same thing.  I just got in the groove and I just was seeing myself winning there.
I felt so into the moment on every shot.  I wasn't behind and I wasn't thinking too far ahead.  And I just was so in the moment and focus on what I had to do right in front of me that I felt like that this week, just the history I've had here, I really was excited to play.

Q.  Is the harder part when you feel that way, beating a field like this and a leaderboard like this on Sunday, or staying calm and getting out of your way?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† It's getting out of your way.¬† It's just allowing yourself to play golf and giving yourself an opportunity and not getting in the way, thinking about where not to hit it.¬† Because there's so many places here that it's just jail.¬† You can't hit it there; it's going to be a tough up‑and‑down; you can't hit it over there, you can't hit it over there.
You just have to be so focused on hitting a good shot, and especially on a golf course like this where it demands great shots on almost every hole.

Q.¬† Did you know you had a three‑shot lead when you were visiting with all the people on 18?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I think so.¬† I think I walked by and I saw it, and I think I kind of knew I had probably a two‑shot lead, at least a two‑shot lead kind of teeing off.¬† And then I was kind of walking over to the trees, and I was like, I definitely‑‑ I don't know if I didn't freeze, but I was thinking, now what do we do, we want to play this correctly, the smart way, get our five, get out of here and make someone make an eagle, have Jason try to make an eagle.
It definitely feels a little weird.¬† Usually I've always kind of come from behind in my wins.¬† To actually have a numerous‑shot lead with only a couple shots I have to hit left was definitely kind of a different feeling.

Q.  Two years ago you were The Ryder Cup in points almost all year till right at the end and you fell out at the PGA and obviously didn't get picked.  Can you talk about how difficult that whole thing was?  And obviously now it's a completely different year and you've actually put yourself in a good spot here with a week to go to get a pick.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I wasn't playing well coming down the stretch.  I was bleeding out and I was just trying to make it, just trying to make it on the number somehow, and I just wasn't playing very good golf and a lot of guys were.
I thought being a pick was going to be tough.  I had to play really well during the Playoff events and I played okay.  I didn't play great, and there was a few guys that were just playing awesome.  I really didn't think I would be a pick just because I wasn't playing as good as those guys, no matter if I was on the points or not.  Those guys were kind of on a tear.
It definitely hurts when you don't make it because that's the goal of every American and European player.  Definitely stings a little bit.
So you know, definitely kind of role reversal; I've been out all year long.  I knew, I felt like there was an opportunity for quite a few guys to kind of make a run and make themselves known and kind of put their hat in the mix there.  So I think the last few weeks I've done that and at least give him a lot to think about.

Q.  How surprised were you that you missed the green with your third shot on 18?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I was pretty surprised (laughter).  It was a wedge.  It was a great number.  I just was like, I'll hit a nice high draw that I do almost every day on the range.  I hit one left hardly all week, and sure enough I hit it left and was like, wow, this is not what I imagined playing the last hole.
But, you know, it's just about getting it in.¬† I knew if I could get up‑and‑down, it would be a five and that's kind of‑‑ after my tee shot, it's like just get a five and get out of here.¬† It was more exciting than it needed to be, but it was a good lesson learned and still got five and still made a good putt.¬† Made it exciting and gave myself a little more confidence with my putter so that felt nice.

Q.  As a guy who prides himself on being competitive and now that you're back in the winner's circle, can you tell us how much it was weighing on you, the fact that you had not won in a little while?
HUNTER MAHAN:  It weighs on you a little bit, but I think you have to remember, I know I had to tell myself, I can't go out there and try to win golf tournaments.  I have to go out there and try to get better every day and just doing the little things.
I talked to Foley somewhere and I just was like, Foley, I don't want to waste a shot anywhere, on the range, on the putting green, on a chipping green, on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  I don't want to waste a shot.  And I want every shot I hit to have a purpose, a goal; I'm worrying about my alignment and setup and everything is in the right place.  I don't want to go out there and just go through the motions and put my time in.  I've got make sure this stuff counts.
And he bought into that and I know I've been trying to buy into that quite a bit.  I felt like it's paid dividends.  I just want to know that when I go home and play with my buddies, I'm not wasting a shot.  I'm focused a hundred percent on that shot and trying to make the best swing that I can.  It's not about putting the time in.  It's about putting the right time and putting the real focus on to every shot, because I think that's what great players do.  They don't waste a second of practice time when they are out on the golf course.

Q.  I just want to get your thoughts on what the atmosphere was like, playing with a guy who is having a home game with lots of friends there and didn't seem to hurt you.  What was the atmosphere like?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, right off the first tee, it's funny I look at Morgan and I didn't think he's from New Jersey for some reason.  I think he's a California kid or something.  It's so funny to me.  When they announced him off the tee, it's so cool to hear a kid who grew up five minutes away from here get that kind of ovation.
People are so behind him and they are so jacked for him.¬† I'm sure he was a little nervous and probably wanted to birdie the first five holes and get off to a good start.¬† Struggled a little bit but he grinded his way out and made some huge up‑and‑downs and finished really strong.
So that was really cool to see, and I know he's proud to be from New Jersey and he's proud to play in this event and play well.

Q.  What was that feeling like when the putt went in on 18?  You kind of dropped your putter.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I think I was thinking that it was harder than it needed to be, and I was thinking just how good it felt to just pour it right in the middle and to kind of‑‑ to not‑‑ I kind of limped in, but to make that putt was kind of like, man, did you that.¬† You rolled that thing in there confidently.¬† You did what you had to do to win.
It was a lot going on, kind of a lot and a little going on in my head, and I was just figuring out all these different situations if I missed or if I made it.  I found a good line there and had great feel, great speed all day and hit it and it just looked like it was perfect.
Yeah, just felt like at ease, kind of everything kind of just left my body at one time.

Q.  How proud are you of that streak, you're the only guy too play in every Playoff event which is now assured.
HUNTER MAHAN:  I'm very proud of that.  That's a long time.  This is the eighth or ninth FedExCup, what is it?
LAURA NEAL:  Eighth.
HUNTER MAHAN:  That's a lot of golf.  That's over a lot of years.  I think that's basically saying that I haven't really had a bad year in that span and that feels really good.  Like I said, there's been a lot of great players who haven't done that.  I'm extremely proud of that fact.

Q.  We'll find out next week on The Ryder Cup, but is there any part of you that is just desperate to get back for other reasons; just haven't been in the last match to win the other way, and the last one had a sour feel.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, it was a sour feeling.  I think Geoff Ogilvy had the best quote of team events:  It's the most fun you'll ever have, until you figure out you're going to lose; until that moment you're going to lose, and it's like, oh, that really stinks.
But that's truth of it.  Everybody gets so geared up for it, man, and you just see these emotions come out of people that you just never thought existed.  I think it allows people to be free and just to go out there and play golf because you want to win for no other reason.  It's really an honor to be part of the team, and I think with this win, I've got a chance.
You know, I can't go there with anything to prove.¬† I can't try too hard.¬† I can't, you know, try to force anything.¬† I've just got to play golf and know that I'm playing great and just know that this is ‑‑¬† I'm here because I deserve to be here.¬† I can't add too much to it because there's enough emotion going to be out there for all of us.

Q.  And the contrast to the putt on 18, what does it feel like to see the putt go in on 17, because at that time it looked like that was the clincher.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, that's what I was kind of thinking there.¬† I think I saw‑‑ I couldn't tell if Cameron‑‑ I can't remember Cameron, if I saw Cameron make bogey on 18 or not, but I thought 13 was probably going to be second.¬† I knew if I could get a two‑shot lead going into 18, that would be huge, because 18, that's a difficult hole.
And for some reason, I just got over there and I just kind of‑‑ I saw Morgan's putt and I had a feeling, I like I knew what this putt was going to do.¬† It was downhill and speed wasn't an issue.¬† And hit it saw it rolling down the middle, or it looked like in the middle to me.¬† The green is so pure and it went right to the middle of the hole.
To make that one, like you said, it was probably going to be the clincher for me because basically I had a three‑shot lead with one to go.¬† Almost needed all three shots, but it felt good to make that one, and you know, to seal it with kind of authority.

Q.  Your lie on 13 off the tee, that can be kind of a dicey shot going over the club in that.  Was it a good lie or good shot or what?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† It was a pretty good lie.¬† There's definitely worse out there.¬† It was still a pretty good carry and we went to the right because of‑‑ obviously less carry than going to the left.¬† But obviously hit it solid and got it over.¬† That was definitely an important shot there because you can kind of make a mess of that hole quickly.

Q.  And how long have you been doing the AimPoint and how much of a difference has that made?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Since Colonial, and I really like it a lot.  It just gives me a lot of confidence over a putt.  I don't feel that there's a whole lot of doubt when I'm reading my putt and doing the AimPoint Express, it just feels like I know what the putt is going to do.  I mean, I don't know exactly where it's going to go, there's still an art to putting.
But I still feel very, very confident; especially when you have those little putts that have just a little bit of movement, you can really feel it in your feet and you don't have to use your irons, because sometimes it can lie to you with all the little bumps and hills that goes on with the putting green.
So I've enjoyed the process and I've enjoyed kind of learning about it.
LAURA NEAL:  Congratulations.  We'll see you in Boston.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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