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January 7, 2015

Hunter Mahan


THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started.  Tournament of champions.  I guess first and foremost talk about the new logo on the sleeve, the new relationship with Ace Hardware.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah.¬† I'm excited to partner with ace.¬† Being their first athlete in their history, 90‑plus history is pretty special and it's an honor to be a part of them, and I think Ace and myself and golf is a great fit.
We were able to shoot a commercial maybe a month or so ago, and got to meet a few of their employees and people there and talk to them about the company and what they're about and learned a lot about them and excited about what they do.  So I'm really excited about the opportunity to partner with them, and I think it's going to be a great relationship.

Q.¬† Does Kandi work on the house or ‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  You know, it's funny, she was raised by a single parent or mom, and her mom had to go to Ace quite a bit to do the household chores.  So when her mom comes into town, I mean she goes through the house and gives it an inspection and makes sure everything is tip top.  So she's pretty handy and doesn't really wait on us guys.  We're too slow and trying to read instructions and she's just trying to bust in there and do it right.

Q.  Is Kandi's mom in the commercial?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  No.  But she might be.  I don't know.

Q.  You said the first athlete in 90 years.  How did that come about?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† That's a good question.¬† I guess I'm just lucky, you know.¬† I think they've been looking to get into sports, and I think golf is just a great avenue for them.¬† You know, I think their jingle is that "Ace is the Helpful Place" and they really value their customers, and just like the PGA TOUR and golf, we value relationships and we value relationships with our fans.¬† So it was a good connection there, and like I said, I got to know them a little bit and I'm just excited about‑‑ they're company is really interesting.¬† They‑‑ you know, they value the relationship, and definitely the local stores, the local relationship between the store and the people, and you know, they're kind of old school in a sense.¬† Things are so, you know, you just kind of look on line to do things, and when you're things around the house or doing anything yourself, it's much easier to talk to somebody, and they value that very much.

Q.  Speaking of do it yourself, that seems like a good segue.  How much did you do it yourself, building a golf career?  How much coaching did you need?

Q.  Actually, I guess what I'm interested in is the level of some coaching there is, at what level do you help yourself?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† You know, I think‑‑ I mean I think I've got‑‑ I've been lucky to be around a lot of great teachers.¬† I've had Randy Smith, and I had Tom Sargent, who was a pretty good teacher locally in Southern California.¬† I had Sean Foley.¬† I've had a lot of really incredible people, and they can give‑‑ they can see things as much as they want, and we talk about stuff.¬† I mean communication is so important because, you know, we have a vision for what I want to swing and how I want to look, but if I don't put the time in, I don't put the work in and strive for that, it just doesn't do much good.
And you know, so much of what we do is we go on the golf course, we go on the range, and we have to figure a lot of things out.  I think we know what we were trying to do, and teachers kind of help you and give you keys to get better at certain things, but if you don't put the work in and put the right work in, really focusing on each shot and not just getting out there and swinging, you know, it's not going to do much good no matter who your teacher is.
I mean we've seen it with great football coaches or anything like that.  You go to one place, they don't succeed, they go to another place and they're taking off.  I mean I think the coach is important, but how players buy in and how much they work and how much they put into it, it matters a great deal.

Q.¬† You said you've had Randy Smith, Tom Sargent, you had Sean‑‑ you have Sean Foley?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I have Sean Foley.  I thought you knew.  No?  (Laughs).

Q.  Hunter, this course it's been raining, maybe a little bit soft right now.  How does this course fit your game and have you had a chance to play at all yet this week?  Are you going out later today?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No.¬† I haven't played this week, not going to play today.¬† I'm going to start out tomorrow and get in 18.¬† Wednesday, Thursday.¬† And I want to see as much of the course as I can, and obviously it's very hilly.¬† Obviously if it is wet, it's going to play longer, but this is a golf course where you gotta be aggressive.¬† You gotta birdie the par‑5s and short par‑4s and take advantage of those shorter holes and opportunities, and if it's soft, then you gotta be aggressive and fly the ball to the hole and play the angles of the greens and give yourself‑‑ you know, I think a lot of this place is giving yourself makeable putts.¬† You can give yourself a lot of putts that break six, seven feet that have a lot of slope to them and you're not going to make many of those.¬† So we'll just place the ball on the greens, and even if it's a long putt, if it doesn't break too much, you can make a lot of those.

Q.  There has been a lot of wind in the last few days.  How does this course fit your game with wind and maybe without wind?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, you know, obviously with wind is going to make it tougher, make it more challenging for anybody.  And the lower you hit the ball, might keep it out of the wind a little bit more.  That could help on some holes, but out here you're going to need kind of every kind of shot.
And you've had different players win here.  You know, you had Zach, which is kind of a shorter hitter, and you've had bombers come out here and win.  So I think this course doesn't really suit anybody.  I think anybody's game can play here.  It just comes down to making putts because you're going to have a lot of birdie opportunities and maybe even some eagle opportunities.  So like I said, probably getting on the right side of the holes and giving your putts that break putts to the foot are going to be the ones you want to have this week.

Q.  What was your learning curve like here?  Is it a harder place to learn than a lot of new courses you see?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I don't know.¬† Probably not.¬† I mean I think this place is pretty much out in front of you.¬† It's not a‑‑ you know, I think it's all about your approach shots and about where you leave it, you know.
Like I said, you could leave yourself a lot of really funky putts even if they're close to the hole, if you're on the wrong side, you're just not going to make many of those putts because they're going to break so much.
Like I said, if you got straighter putts, I would take it a few feet further away from the hole, just so I have less to think about and you can be more aggressive because they're usually not too fast.¬† It's just a second‑shot golf course where you gotta be aggressive.¬† I don't think there's too much to learn here.¬† You can kind of figure out where you want to place the ball and where you don't pretty quickly.

Q.  When people say where you're starting your season, do you say Kapalua or do you say how it started at Frys?
HUNTER MAHAN:  It takes a second to realize it has already started, and I remember back my wife's like are you ready to start the season.  I'm thinking, well, the season is already started actually, which is kind of weird, but you know, it's just a mindset and it's just a tournament you're going to play this week and I'm going to go play the next one that I'm scheduled to play and go from there.

Q.  What's your mindset, that this is the start of the season?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No.¬† This is just‑‑ you know, this is another tournament to play.

Q.  Take two months off after this?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Yeah.  See you in Augusta.

Q.  Hunter, does local knowledge help on this course?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I don't know how many people live here and have local knowledge.

Q.  I mean familiarity with the course.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† It might.¬† It might.¬† You know, if you know the greens a little bit more.¬† I don't think the pins change too much from year to year, so the more you see it, it's probably‑‑ it's helpful.¬† But I am going to play 18 tomorrow and 18 the next day.¬† I do want to see as much of this place as I can, and I will probably spend a good amount of time on the greens because we kind of have an idea of where the pins are and get a feel for that.
But the more you play any golf course, the more you're going to get comfortable with it.  Like I said, and usually off the tee is important playing a golf course, but off the tee here is not that big of a deal.  You just gotta find the short grass.

Q.  You kind of alluded to what (indiscernible) said a minute ago about a learning curve.  What was your first impression?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Of this place.

Q.  What's the first time you saw this place, what was the first thing that entered your mind?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Probably the slope, you know, from kind of 18 all the way back down to 2, how steep it was and how kind of that can influence how you read putts and see things when you have so much slope that you're on and you're looking at, you know, you have to really remember where you are and kind of use your feel on the greens and the kind of position you are, and you know, I think the challenge here is when we've got such uphills and downhills and the wind kind of blowing where it is, it's judging the two, judging the downhill and judging the wind, you know, getting that specific distance right, you know is important here.

Q.  How would you feel, would you be interested in completing in like a Wednesday afternoon Match Play teeing off on 17 with the green being No. 1 green?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Oh, yeah, that would be fun.

Q.  How would you play it, do you think?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean the second shot from 17 down to 18 would be tough.¬† Yeah.¬† I think that would be a good‑‑ you know what would be really fun is playing it from 16 tee back down, trying to cut it across 17, the bridge there.¬† That would be interesting.
But yeah, that would be fun.¬† That would be fun.¬† You know, like just getting from the fairway to the next hole is going to be interesting, because easy from 18.¬† You know, once you get it past that‑‑ from the second shot of 17 into 18, from there you can see it.¬† You can see it all the way down there.¬† So it's not too bad.

Q.  Would you go?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Sure, yeah.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
HUNTER MAHAN: ¬†Yeah.¬† We talk about that all the time.¬† Like there's‑‑ you know, what's that‑‑ I haven't played here enough to know, like 6, the long par‑5, you know, how far is it on the green, I think it's longer now, like it's a mile or so.

Q.  Five tee to six green?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  There's always fun holes like that whenever you play golf courses like that.

Q.  Do you do stuff like that anymore?  You used to do stuff like that all the time probably like that?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I don't do that as much anymore.¬† I probably should.¬† You know, probably should make‑‑ do fun stuff like that.¬† That would be kind of interesting.¬† Charlotte has a lot of cool holes like that, you know, because we've seen them all the time, trying to hit it across the lake or whatever from like 13 or so to 16, 17.¬† Yeah, as a kid you kind of did that because you were a kid, you could kind of get away with stuff like that.¬† As an adult, if you hit into somebody or hit somebody, you can't get away with stuff like that anymore.

Q.  Are the sidelines here a distraction?  I mean if you're looking out on to the ocean, seeing whales breach and just the beauty of this place.  Is it a distraction at all?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No.¬† No.¬† You know, this is a reward like anything, you know, making the Ryder Cup team, Presidents Cup team.¬† This is a reward to be here.¬† You know, it's an honor and privilege to be here.¬† You know you've earned the right to play in this great event, this long history of great players who have come here and played and won, and you know, the beauty and the scenery of this place is second to none.¬† So to be able to see that is always‑‑ and to be here is always just, you know, it will leave you in awe sometimes, and it's fun to‑‑ you know, it's fun to see, you know, the whales jumping out and doing all that.¬† It's very cool.

Q.  Do you set goals?  Are you a goals guy?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah.¬† It's funny, I thought about that and people ask me goals or something, and I guess I do, but I think‑‑ I got performance goals or whatnot, but I have‑‑ I think I‑‑ I'm trying to set different goals, you know, goals that aren't so performance oriented, things that are more, you know, day‑to‑day things.¬† You know, just kind of, you know, kind of smile more and be home more and use my phone less and little things like that, you know.¬† Sometimes goals are so big that they're, you know, more daunting than they are anything else.¬† And you get little things that just make each day kind of better that will kind of help your days out better and be more fun and relaxed, I think those are the things that I think I want to do this year more than any other year.

Q.  Are you using your phone less now?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Doing okay with that.  It's hard sometimes.  But yeah, to be more present, you know, on the golf course, at home, with the kids, family, stuff like that, I think is always a good thing.  Phone is sometimes more of a distraction.  Technology is good and bad sometimes.

Q.  What's the one thing you're looking forward to this year?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Off season already.

Q.  When is that for you?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I don't know.¬† (Laughs).¬† No, I think‑‑ I don't know.¬† I think I'm just looking forward‑‑ well, I'm looking forward to having another kid.¬† Obviously you're probably talking more golf specific.

Q.  What major are you looking forward to the most?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† You know, you always look forward to Augusta, you know, and just‑‑ whenever you don't play well there one year, you can't wait to get back.¬† And you know, going to the end of the year, you know, I really wasn't playing great, you know.¬† You know, you're like, man, I could easily not make it and that would be just so heart breaking, so to know I'm in.¬† I think I'm going to try to go more this year.¬† In the few years past I just haven't gone very much.¬† I think it's just kind of a waste, you know, to have the opportunity to go to Augusta whenever you want and not do it, it just seems silly now.¬† So I'd like to go there a few times and play, just enjoy it, because it is a joy to play and it's a privilege to play.¬† And so I'm looking forward to that.
But you know, every major you look forward to because every one poses a different challenges.¬† The U.S. Opens are getting fun again.¬† They're getting exciting instead of kind of a daunting kind of a grind, you know.¬† They're becoming fun and they're giving opportunities to all kinds of players to win, not just‑‑ you know, they're having fun with their tournament, which is nice, which they should be doing.¬† It shouldn't be a miserable kind of week for everyone.

Q.  Are you looking forward to that, Kings Bay?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, for sure.¬† Yeah.¬† Haven't played in‑‑

Q.  When was the last time you were at a major venue?
HUNTER MAHAN:  There's a bunch of them.  British opens and stuff like that.  PGA sometimes you don't play.  But you know, it does help when you do play it a few times beforehand, you know, since it's usually a long week to begin with and if you're doing so much work on the golf course that week, it can make it much longer, so anytime you can get there early and do some work and get like sight lines and where you're trying to hit it and all that stuff is just kind of out of there and you're just kind of playing golf and getting ready for the week helps a ton.

Q.  You mentioned smiling more and using your phone less.  You mentioned going to Augusta just to do it, just to enjoy it more.  Is there any part of you as you look back on either '14 or '13 that you found yourself grinding too hard and not enjoying it as much as you should?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† For sure.¬† I think we all‑‑ I think, you know, I remember talking to another player about this.¬† You get out here so long and you get out here and you play, you get in such a weekly routine that I think it‑‑ for me I lose feel for it.¬† I'm just like a robot going from thing to thing, going from the gym to the course and play, practicing, then back to the gym or back to‑‑ you know, you become so routine.¬† Your life becomes just a big routine and it's like you got no say in it, you got no fun sometimes that, you know, you can just kind of‑‑ I feel bogged down sometimes, and you lose the joy of just playing golf and playing a round or hitting a shot, put too much on things.¬† You know, you put too much on that day into your happiness, and it can melt into your home life, and it just doesn't‑‑ it's not going to make you a good‑‑ you're not going to like yourself as much as you want to and you're not going to play as much fun golf and enjoy what you do.
I think I just want to make sure every day is a day of going out there and doing the best I can and getting better playing golf and the next day is a whole new day and it has nothing to do with the day before.¬† It's just a brand‑new day to go out there and get better, and sometimes maybe that may not be going to the course or it may be switching focuses to being less time on the golf course or going home and relaxing a little more because that might help my golf and not be‑‑ and I think not being afraid of doing anything like that.¬† Before I was afraid not to practice or play and be so, you know, intense when I don't need to be.¬† Just being‑‑ you know, doing whatever I can to be as relaxed as I can every time I go out there and play golf.

Q.  Is there a player you look at that you kind of think maybe has that figured out?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah.¬† I think any top player, I think Rory has a great balance of that, you know I remember playing Frys this year and I was just tired and coming off the end of the year and everything, and I just‑‑ I knew that I couldn't waste too much time hitting balls practicing, spending‑‑ I mean I got to the range half hour or so before I played and go hit a few putts and go to the range and hit balls and just played that week because I knew I didn't have that much energy.¬† And that awareness paid huge dividends.¬† I played great that week and spent less time at the golf course than any other tournament I've ever played.¬† So sitting out there hitting balls for four hours a day doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have success.¬† You know, it's a balance.¬† You gotta figure that out.
Kind of like Rory who travels‑‑ I don't know how much he travels, and then he still plays great and I think he just understands‑‑ he shows up sometimes on the range like 30 minutes before to hit balls and goes and plays.¬† He knows I don't need to sit there for two hours and hit balls.¬† I just need to be ready to go out there and play and hit the shots I need to hit.
I think Phil does a great be job of that.  He's very well aware of when he's tired and I got nothing left in the tank.  So no point in me going out there and banging balls and everything.  So I think any good player has a good idea of that, and you know, great thing about golf, it's never too late to learn anything and change it up, and if you think something's going to help you, you can't be afraid to do it.

Q.  Along those lines, you like other sports, so I'm sure you've seen guys in the n b a as their career goes along add shots, add things to their game.  Is there anything in your game you'd like to kind of add at this point?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, I'd like to add 20 yards if I could, but it's going to be pretty tough.  I want to get better at irons.  I want to have a better short game and be a more consistent putter and do things like that.  But I think which Foley is so good, we want to make the golf swing last.  I want to be able to play this game a long time without injuries, without my swing affecting me in a negative way.  I want to be able to be free with it and, you know, I want to play golf as long as I can at a high level.
And a lot of that has to do with I think what I'm adding is trying to be the best shape I can be in.¬† You know, once you hit‑‑ there's no doubt, once you hit 30, 35, things just‑‑ you know, your body just changes.¬† You just‑‑ you need more rest and you need to, you know, working out becomes even more important than ever before, and I see a lot of guys at 40 or so who haven't done too much.¬† You know, bodies start breaking down and it happens quick.¬† You know, you're great and all of a sudden you see guys in the work out trailer and they're getting worked on every day because they're in pain.
Golf is not‑‑ the travel and the beating of the balls and the swing is not great for your body, so you gotta take care of it.

Q.  You talked about Rory and all the travel he does.  Obviously he chose not to be here this week and not to dwell on that, but is this a tournament that as long as you could help it that you would ever choose to skip?
HUNTER MAHAN:  You know, I don't know what could happen in the future.  I don't know.  This is such a great place.  They take such great care of us.
You know, with the wrap‑around season that we have, especially in Europe, guys play so much golf, I can understand this is a time where they don't play.¬† They're taking their time off.¬† This is kind of like their off season.
So everyone is on different schedules now.¬† There's not one schedule that everyone plays.¬† But I can't say I will never skip this event.¬† I just couldn't say that, but this is an event‑‑ like I said, this is an event that you want to play in everywhere and you want to get that invite because it's the best of the best here and all the winners.¬† You know, just winners only this week, so that's pretty cool.

Q.  Best Christmas present you got?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Best Christmas present I got?  Oh, man.  I usually get a lot of cooking stuff.  I love to cook and my family knows that, so it's an easy thing for me to get.  I got some big Le Creuset set, bowls and stuff, dishes and stuff to make big things with.  And I love that stuff.  So I got some big bowls that I can cook big stews with and different things.  Yeah, I got some fun stuff.

Q.  What's your specialty?
HUNTER MAHAN:  My specialty?  I can cook you anything you want, bro (laughs).  You know, I don't really have one thing.  I just like to cook anything, and I'm always looking through recipes and stuff like that.  I don't want to stick to one thing.  I want to learn as much as I can about it.  I like to do it.  It's therapeutic thing for me.

Q.  What's the best Christmas present you gave?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I gave?¬† Man.¬† I don't know.¬† My wife always gets jewelry.¬† It's the easiest thing for her to get.¬† You know, I know she'll like it.¬† I don't know.¬† I've given different things.¬† I don't know.¬† It's hard‑‑ I don't know.¬† Christmas there's so much pressure on it.¬† Sometimes I see things that randomly I see something and think that's awesome for that person.¬† I got my wife when she was pregnant a foot massager because her feet were hurting.¬† I thought that was pretty good.¬† I was proud of that.¬† It wasn't during Christmas.¬† It was just a random gift.¬† Sometimes random gifts are the best.¬† It's a bonus.

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