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September 23, 2014

Hunter Mahan


SARAH GWYNN: Hunter, thanks very much for joining us today. Welcome. It's been four years since you were on the U.S. Team. Must be very exciting to be back.

HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it feels great to be back. Tough thing about The Ryder Cup is when you win, you get to cherish it for two years; and when you lose, it takes awhile to get over and you have to wait hopefully two years to come back. It's taken me four. It's good to be back and excited for this week and this opportunity.

SARAH GWYNN: You're a captain's pick again. How much are you looking forward to justifying Tom Watson's faith in you?

HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, that's a tough thing this week is that you want to do so much and you want to be so important to the team and everything. You've got to remind yourself you're one of 12, and you have to do what you can and take control of what you can control and own that. But I think we're all -- we just need to go out there and play golf and just our abilities, and I guess the main thing for myself is just trust what I'm doing and how I'm playing and allow that to come out.

Q. The strange fact is you're one of America's best match play players if you look at your career, but your most visible moment was not a good one. On the other hand, imagine it would not be helpful to focus on the redemption angle this week, but what role does that play for you playing in this Ryder Cup?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think the U.S. has been kicked in the teeth for a while now. I think Phil and Jim have been a part of a lot of teams, and they have won some but they have lost some. There's such a big difference between winning and losing these things. Winning feels great, but losing is just -- it's painful and you don't get a second -- it's not like you've got next week, like a normal Tour event, or next year. It's two years you've got to wait. It's painful when you lose and it's unbelievable when you win. But we have been kicked in the teeth for awhile now, and I think a lot of the guys are motivated. Redemption is a word that some guys have thrown out and it kind of feels like that. We kind of feel like we're better than some of the golf that we've played, and we're capable of doing great things. This is just a great opportunity for us to go out there and play golf and to trust our abilities. Don't try to go out there and do too much. This event can kind of get you so pumped up and so jacked, you want to do so many great things. You just have to trust your abilities. Our abilities are just as good enough to win this, and we know that and we just have to keep believing in that.

Q. If Rory and Ian are Europe's big dogs, who are yours?

Q. Closers, people you want to have.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think Jim is playing some unbelievable golf. He has for a while now. I mean, Phil is a guy you love to have out there. He's been through everything in the game of golf. Kuch is about as clutch as they come, especially on the greens, he can make anything. It seems like he always does. I think we've got quite a few guys. Rickie has played unbelievable the last few months. Put him in any situation, and you like his chances. Bubba, with his length, that's just a great tool to have, especially on this golf course to be able to hit it that far. You could almost play a different golf course sometimes.

Q. How do you get recharged in one week?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's a little bit of a challenge, because you are preparing for The Ryder Cup. So you're not going to take seven days off and do nothing. You try to take care of yourself physically first. You try to eat pretty clean and drink a lot of juices, and I take BioSteel, you know, so take a lot of BioSteel and try to eat clean and try to cleanse your body out a little bit and get a lot of sleep, get as much rest as you can. You know, go to the golf course kind of focused and determined. You don't need to be out there eight hours, but you need to be able to make sure every shot you hit has a purpose and you're focused on exactly what you need to do. Come out here ready to play, but you know, just not overwork yourself this week. This is one of those times where we have a lot going on this week and it's easy to kind of do too much and mentally kind of do too much, kind of playing practise rounds, you hit a few bad shots and start over-thinking things. It's all right. We all know our games are good and just keep going and keep patient. Friday is not coming tomorrow, so we just have to make sure we take care of each day and do the best we can.

Q. If the Ryder Cup came down to one match on Sunday, all-square going to 18, would you want that? Would you want to be in that match?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it would be a fun match to be in. That would be an incredible situation. It's not too many times in golf where you have so much kind of on the line like that where so many people are watching you and kind of depending on you. You're playing for your team and country. That's what feels different this week, you feel like you're not just playing for yourself, which in golf you're always playing for yourself. This feels bigger than you. To have that would be an incredible kind of moment. Not too many guys can ever really experience that.

Q. That being said, can you just refresh my memory in 2010 when you do go in the last match, how it came to be that you went No. 12?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, I don't know how I came up to be that. That was kind of Corey's decision and the captains at the time, assistant captains and stuff. I'm not really sure. I think I'm not sure if we were behind. I think we were behind going into the singles. I don't know how he wanted to position things. I can't remember. But you know, I don't know how that -- how that came about, I guess.

Q. When you knew you were going last that day, what was your initial reaction?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I was excited I guess. You never really know how important your match is going to be playing The Ryder Cup. In most Presidents Cups, I usually like going first or second. In 2008, I was one of the first three groups. So it's kind of different. You're kind of waiting around and seeing everything unfold before you, which is really neat because you can stand there a little too long trying to figure the scores out and everything and where everybody is sitting. But it's a really neat kind of moment to be in because it's kind of funny because you're kind of -- everyone is kind of watching you play, but they are kind of watching everyone else because all the matches are getting towards the end, so you don't know if you're going to matter or not. Then all of a sudden -- it comes quick. All of a sudden, boom, everything is on you and everyone is focused on your group. It was really interesting to be in that situation. It was really neat, too. It was neat to have our teammates kind of watching you and all the captains and everything. It was a cool feeling.

Q. What do you think of your potential partnership with Zach?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I played with Zach before in different team events and definitely in 2010. We kind of have the same temperament. We're both like to stay kind of level there for most of the around, whether we make birdies or bogeys, we're trying to stay not too high and not too low. I think we complement each other's games. We communicate well between one another if we're going to talk about something. It's a really easy, seamless transition to be with him and playing with him. Like I say, it's just easy to find a partner like that and enjoy your time out on the golf course and feel like you can count on him and he knows he can count on me.

Q. I think if I'm not mistaken, there are four of you guys here that came up through Texas Junior Amateur ranks, you and Patrick Reed and Jordan and Jimmy Walker. Is that a Texas Mafia thing or is that just a coincidence?
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably a coincidence. (Laughter) Texas Mafia, I didn't think -- #TexasMafia, that's going to roll out there I think (laughter). I think that's coincidence. We're all kind of different ages and kind of different parts in our life. I was thinking about that. I didn't know Patrick was from Houston and kind of when I heard about that, I thought that was pretty interesting to have four guys from Texas. It's neat. I think it's pretty cool to have four guys from one state kind of representing our country this week. But it's good to get to kind of know everybody on a different level like that. Like I say, I didn't really know Patrick and Jimmy as well going into this week. So, it's neat. It's neat to have that kind of partnership with other guys in the group, as well.

Q. Given the teams have been fairly evenly matched for so many years, can you put your finger on why Europe keeps winning so many of them?
HUNTER MAHAN: No. You try to watch past ones and see if there's anything. Some people say it's because they are a tighter-knit group. I would dispute that. I feel like our guys have always been pretty tight. I'm not sure if it's the -- I think sometimes, it seems like other times maybe Europe always seems to be the underdog, and they always kind of really -- I mean, they really use that almost as a rallying cry between one another and there's something to prove. And maybe the U.S. has played tight because they've had such great teams and such unbelievable players on the teams. They don't play as loose as Europe, and Europe is just out there firing away. At times it looks like they're having more fun. I remember, in '99, Sergio is running around and Jesper and these guys are just letting loose, like they've got nothing to lose. I think we've started to do that a little more, started to buy into The Ryder Cup emotion and I think we've played better. In 2008, I remember Zinger was all about that, all about using the 13th man, all about using the crowd and everybody to use that emotion as a great thing and just feel it and use it. I think maybe, like I said, in 2012, I thought they played great, the team played great, just came up a little bit short. But you know, I don't think it's a team bonding thing. I think we are bonding great this week and having a great time and partnerships have been great. I think everybody has a great idea of who they're going to play with this week, which I think is big. I don't know, I think everyone's so relaxed with one another. There's just absolutely no tension in the team rooms. We are just so excited and eager to play.

Q. Paul McGinley talks about a template or a model that's been around for a while and it's tweaked ever so slightly. He didn't exactly tell us what it was. Can you see that? And if you can see it, what would be your definition of it?
HUNTER MAHAN: A template? I think it's important to kind of get your groups early and really start working that bond. It's hard to bond 12 guy together, but it's a lot easier to bond two or three guys together and play with each other and develop that chemistry and that communication. It's hard to play with somebody you haven't played with all week, and now all of a sudden play on Friday and try to learn how they play, the pace they play and kind of what they want from you. Every player wants something different. Some guys, they don't want to talk to you at all. They just want to stay in their own game and that's perfect, that's perfectly fine. Finding a good rapport with somebody, understanding what they want out of you and what you want out of them; like I said, getting that close bond between three or four guys is a lot easier than 12. We all want to get to know one another but that's hard to do in such a short amount of time. I just like the process that Zinger had. It was so easy for us to know who we were going to play with, and we played with each other every day, and kind of ate with one another and just felt this incredible chemistry in a short amount of time and felt great. That's what this week feels like. Feels like everybody is in tune with one another and developing great relationships very quickly.

Q. Speaking of bonding, Bubba said that he thinks he could play with anybody but he's not sure everybody could play with him.

Q. Do you understand why he says that, and can you explain why he and Webb seem to make such a good, tight pair?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, Bubba's different (laughter). He's a great guy. I think he just, everyone does things differently. I don't know if everyone would want to play with me, but I would -- you can't be shy to play with Bubba. He hits it long. He's got incredible skill set. He goes out there and he hits shots that no one else hits, and he enjoys that. He has fun with it. It would be great to play with Bubba. I think a lot of guys would like to play with Bubba. I think how you play on the golf course, whether you're an emotional player -- if you're like Keegan, Keegan and Bubba probably might not work together. Keegan is out there, he's explosive out there. He will give you a high five and he might take your hand off. That's why he and Phil work well together, they just feed off one another. Some guys are more subdued. Bubba is a great guy and he's going to -- he's a great match-play player, because he can do a lot of things that a lot of guys can't do. As a player, I would love to be with that and see that out there.

Q. These foursomes that went out today, does that feel like the pod structure from Zinger's year, is it sort of organised that way?
HUNTER MAHAN: I'm not sure. I think there's -- I think maybe it's hard to tell. I don't know exactly what Tom's going to do. But I think we've talked to him and I think we've liked all the things that he's talked about and said and liked the pairings that he's kind of thrown around there. Like I said, everyone's pretty tight. Everyone's gelling together really well this week. We're having a lot of fun with one another. I think the fact that sometimes it's difficult, because there was a time there in Ryder Cups where the 12 Americans, they played with each other for like five times in a row. They knew each other so well. There was a little bit of a learning process, but I think now with another team event in the middle there, we are starting to learn each other more and more, so it's a lot easier to pick up on guys. But this is a pretty fluid group. A lot of guys can go with different guys, and I think it's a nice three sets of four there that we've got going on.

Q. So he didn't -- Tom Watson didn't explicitly say you guys are going to be with each other this week as foursomes?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, he did not. No.

Q. I know you're not here sightseeing, but I wondered, a guy from the biggest State of the Union, what do you make of this landscape, Gleneagles, playing golf in this kind of environment?
HUNTER MAHAN: That was one of the first things we saw. We took a cart yesterday and went on the golf course and just wanted to see it. We hadn't seen it before and just kind of wanted to get a feel for it. That's the first thing I saw, the first tee shot, these incredible rolling hills and some of the valleys and the elevation changes on some of the shots were really nice. It's beautiful and it's really amazing out here. I think we are all fortunate and lucky to be out playing at Gleneagles, because this is a great venue for an event like this.

SARAH GWYNN: We'll finish up there. Thanks, Hunter.
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