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February 22, 2015

James Hahn


LAURA NEAL:  Northern Trust Open Champion, James Hahn, quite the exciting finish.  You've been saying "wow" since the putt went in.  Talk about how you're feeling now about getting your first win here at Riviera.
JAMES HAHN:¬† Speechless.¬† I grew up in northern California, and this is one of the biggest tournaments that, you know, growing up as a kid, I would watch on TV.¬† I would watch Tiger Woods, when he debuted as a pro.¬† There are a lot of legends that came through here, and being in the locker room and seeing all the murals and pictures of past legends; and to be able to think that one day, I would be up on that same wall‑‑ to me, it's‑‑ I'm speechless.

Q.  If you had not made that putt on 10, you wouldn't have had the putt on the par3.  People were talking about how difficult that hole was, but you had two birdies and three pars all week.  What was it about that hole that suited you?
JAMES HAHN:¬† It's a fun hole.¬† I think you have to approach it as that.¬† I think it's a well‑designed hole, and you could walk away with an easy three or an easy six.
And to me, going into that hole, I had talked to my caddie about it starting the week that regardless of what number I made on that hole, I would go to the next hole as if that didn't even happen.¬† Because you can win or lose a golf tournament on that hole, and you know, to be able to go 2‑under, two birdies out of five tries, I think that's pretty good for me (laughs).

Q.  Can you tell us what was going through your mind exactly at two different points:  One, when you made the putt on the third playoff hole, and secondly, when Dustin missed the putt.
JAMES HAHN:¬† You know, I was just excited that I made it, whether or not that he‑‑ I think he had a pretty good read on it.¬† He kind of peeked his head in there and saw that it straightens out at the end, if not falls a little right.
I couldn't look.  I was so nervous.  I was, one, excited; my heart rate was going 120 beats per second.  Knowing that I couldn't lose it on that hole, because I was already in with two, to me, that's a pretty good feeling, and then just getting myself into the mentality that, hey, he could make this putt, and I would have to play another hole.  So just getting into that frame of mind.
But that's a tricky putt.¬† I think you can hit it a hundred times and you would miss it right 90 percent of the time.¬† It looks like it goes left, and I wouldn't have known unless I had that same putt in regulation.¬† I thought it would break left and it breaks right.¬† I'm not sure what side he missed it on, does anybody know?¬† Left?¬† Well, maybe I give him over‑read.
I put a good putt on it and it was good speed, just enough to catch the left corner.

Q.¬† On 18 in regulation, playing that hybrid out of the rough, Dustin has a 10‑footer to get to 7, what was your objective there?
JAMES HAHN:  Make par.

Q.¬† Hope he misses‑‑
JAMES HAHN:¬† You know, what at that point, Sergio was leading by one.¬† I had no idea‑‑ I had been peeking at the leaderboards, but I played with Sergio yesterday, and he absolutely bombs the ball.¬† To me, it was no question that he was‑‑ if he hit the fairway on 17, he would probably get there in two, 2‑putt for birdie and have a two‑stroke victory.
For me, I bogeyed so many holes, so many 72nd holes in my career, that I just didn't want to bogey, because it makes the flight a little more sour.¬† So I was just like, you know, what get it up and in.¬† I'm taking four weeks off, so for me, I didn't want to have to think about, you know, that last up‑and‑down on the last hole for the next four weeks.

Q.  Are you not going to play Doral?
JAMES HAHN:  No.  I'm not in Doral.  I'm not even close.  If you want to give me the invite, I will.

Q.¬† I will‑‑ does he not‑‑
JAMES HAHN:  Guess the baby's going to have to wait (laughter).

Q.  Baby's due in three weeks?
JAMES HAHN:  The week after Doral.

Q.  Will you be back in time for the Masters?
JAMES HAHN:  Yes, I will be.  Absolutely.  I will clear my schedule for that one.

Q.¬† What are your thoughts on‑‑
JAMES HAHN:  I haven't even thought about it.  To me the biggest thing in my life right now is the birth of my daughter in three weeks.  That, to me, kind of humbles myself and kind of brings me down to reality that, you know, I'm going to be a dad here in three weeks.  I couldn't be more excited, and more nervous that we don't have a name picked out yet.
I'm going to have to talk to my wife about Riviera (laughter).  I think that's a good name.  But we'll see what she says when I get home.

Q.  Is Northern Trust a good name for your daughter maybe?
JAMES HAHN:  It's a little long, maybe her middle name (laughter) NTO?  That would be nice middle name.  (Laughter).

Q.¬† Just doing it, how you did it, and where you did it, and the fact that you've dreamt about this your whole life‑‑ that feeling now, as brand new as can be, is it different than you might have thought it would be?
JAMES HAHN:¬† The only one different thing that I thought, was that I thought my parents would have the opportunity to watch me play golf and see my first victory.¬† It's a little bittersweet, you know, because I play for them; I play for my mom and dad, I play for our family.¬† I play for my family, my wife, my soon‑to‑be daughter.¬† And for me, you know, I have a TOUR family, and it was nice for them to stay and congratulate me.
You know, I think there's something else that when you have family that has been with you through all the struggles and has seen me grow into the person that I am now.  So very grateful to have it in my life.

Q.  So Dustin and Paul are new fathers themselves.  Did that come up at all in the chatter between shots?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Absolutely.¬† The first tee, I had asked him how his‑‑ I think he has a girl or a boy‑‑ a boy, okay.¬† I had asked him how his son was doing, and he said, "Get as much sleep as you can."¬†¬†¬† (Laughter).
He also said to hire help, because it is a lot of work.  So we had talked about it for about four, five minutes before we teed off on hole one, and we kind of touched back and forth throughout the round.  To me, it was very calming if anything to talk about being a dad.  I mean, I'm lucky to play golf for a living, but to have the opportunity to be a father, I think is crazy, absolutely crazy.

Q.  Talk about the second shot on No. 10 in the playoff.  After you watched Paul knock it up there about 15 feet, the guys on TV were saying there's no way you could go for it where you are.  Talk about that shot and how difficult it was and putting it where you did?
JAMES HAHN:¬† The good thing about that shot, I had a great lie.¬† It was sitting a little downgrain, which to me, I love those shots, because I can nip the ball pretty well, get enough spin on it.¬† It was coming from the rough.¬† It was a little wet but that's one of those shots where I've been practicing with my brother ever since I was five years old.¬† You know, pick the most difficult lie, try to get up‑and‑down, and it's to win a golf tournament.
You know, I was just drawing on those memories, and I hit a pretty good shot.  I hit a really good putt, and fortunate enough to see that go in.  I thought I left it short, but I'm sure there was a little nerves that kind of gave it a little extra oomph.

Q.  What is it about your personality?  Through the near misses and the struggles, you always seem to have fun and stay loose and keep a positive attitude.  What is it about your personality that you've been able to do that?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Just kind of look at myself in the mirror some days and tell myself that I'm not even supposed to be here.¬† Come from a small town.¬† Didn't do well in college.¬† Was never an All‑American.¬† Sold shoes for a living for a while.
Yeah, and then just one day, the putts started going in and started playing a little better.¬† Won a couple golf tournaments, and now I'm here.¬† So for me, I can still remember the day when I was grinding on the mini‑tours and I didn't have any money.¬† Didn't want to ask any family for money or any sponsors to see if they could help me out.¬† It was just one of those things that I figured, I would just do it myself and be accountable for myself.
Yeah, and just take advantage of certain opportunities, kind of like what I did today.  So played a year in Korea, two years in Canada, three on the Web and this is my third season on the PGA TOUR.  So I think I'm trending in the right direction.

Q.¬† When you were in the playoff, Nordstrom's was trending on Twitter‑‑
JAMES HAHN:  Oh, yeah?

Q.  What year was that? 
JAMES HAHN:  I can't remember, it was so long ago.  Let's see, I played Canadian Tour 2008 and 2009.  Was probably selling shoes in 2006.  I sold a lot of shoes.  I was pretty good at it (smiling).

Q.  Where was the Nordstrom's?
JAMES HAHN:  There was one in Walnut Creek that I worked at, and Pleasanton.  I worked at two of them.

Q.  You said your TOUR family out here.  I saw Danny Lee hanging around.  Who is your TOUR family?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Everyone.¬† We all tee it up, every one of us today‑‑ or every one of us that started off on Thursday, we all eat together.¬† We sometimes stay in the same hotels.¬† We see each other.¬† We play golf together.¬† I think everyone here, there's a genuine respect in what everyone does out here.
The guys that I'm really close with are the Koreans because we like to eat the same food (laughs).  No one makes fun of us that Kimchi smells.
We go out to dinners a lot, Danny, Seung‑Yul Noh, K.J. Choi, all those guys.¬† I think there's a lot of us that I think we are trying to win, and we are competing against each other, but in the end of the day, we are just playing golf.¬† And whether or not it's your day, whether or not you shoot 6‑under to make the playoff or you play really well and only shoot even par, I think you're battling yourself most of the time.

Q.  On Wednesday afternoon, probably around 3 o'clock or so, when usually everybody's gone, you were on the range trying to hit it into those baskets, trying to hit flagsticks?
JAMES HAHN:  You saw that?

Q.  I saw all that, yeah.  For at least, I would say at least 45 minutes.  You seemed very relaxed then.  Is that something usually do, or is that something that just happened this week?
JAMES HAHN:¬† That just happened this week.¬† There was a golf course that I used to practice at.¬† It's Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland.¬† This is when I was on mini‑tours, still living at home.¬† They would have those baskets and there would be roughly anywhere between six to eight of those rings throughout the entire range.
And I would stay there all day trying to hit five balls into this one, five balls into this one, five balls into this one.  And then there were these poles that were maybe six inches around, and I would try to hit every pole before I left.  Just kind of drawing back on those memories, so every time I see a basket, I try to hit it and do it.  Who doesn't, right?  It's only 55 yards, anyone can do it.
We had some balls left over.¬† My caddie didn't think that I could hit into every one of those baskets before, I think it was like 30 minutes, so I gave myself a 30‑minute time limit.¬† But the clock stops when I'm doing something else, like talking to somebody or grabbing some water.
So there were three baskets, and I had to hit three balls into each of them, and I think I had done it in 15 minutes.¬† So I was like, okay, so now what do you want me to do.¬† He says, you have to one‑hop it into this one two times and one‑hop it into that one two times.¬† I did that in about five minutes.
He said, "You've got ten minutes left."
I was like okay.  Well, that flag, I think it was 90 yards and the other one was 120.  He's like, "Hit that flag."  So I hit it in like five minutes, I couldn't believe it.
I was like:¬† "All right, what else do you want me to do?"¬† And I hit the 120 flag, too.¬† I forgot who was there‑‑ P√°draig was there and he had saw the whole thing.¬† He was like, "Give him something harder to do."¬† (Laughter).
So I did that and it was amazing, so the confidence kind of carried over throughout the golf tournament, we would have certain numbers I would always draw back on.  I would have 92 yards and we would kind of look at each other, try to make this one, it's a perfect number.  And that happened a couple times throughout the entire golf tournament, Thursday through Sunday.
I think that my wedge game this week was spot on.

Q.  That was going to be my question.  You just mentioned your wedge was spot on, but could you just elaborate a little bit more about which part of your game today was your weapon in your arsenal that gave you this victory?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Definitely the putter.¬† I feel like‑‑ I did a little research, statistical stats, last night.¬† And me and Dustin were the only two players inside the top, I think it was the Top‑12, that had a negative strokes gained.¬† And I was at negative point nine and I think he was at negative point three, so I was worse than he was.
Talked to my wife about it.  She's like, well, that just means you're striping it.  I was like, okay, that's pretty cool.
So I was trying to draw on all the good memories that I've had of when I was making putts and when I was putting well.¬† Saturday, I didn't putt that well, but ‑‑ there's a really good end from of mine, one of my best friends.¬† His name is Joe Brazel¬† (ph).¬† We used to watch this DVD back in college, I think it's "The Secret," any of you guys heard of it?¬† It's about the Law of Attraction.
I remember one day, this is back when I was grinding on mini‑tours, that I would write down on a sticky note, "I will putt great today."¬† And I would just put that everywhere would possibly go for the entire day, right next to my toothbrush, on the mirror in the bathroom, put it on the toilet seat, put it everywhere, put it on the door before I left.¬† I kind of did a little bit of that yesterday.
I just told myself, "I will putt great tomorrow.  I will putt great tomorrow."  And I just kept saying it.  I was watching the Matrix yesterday and in between commercials I just kind of closed my eyes and I was like, I'm going to putt great tomorrow, I will put great tomorrow.
And you just kind of convince yourself that you will putt great.¬† I'm not sure if you guys‑‑ I'm not sure if they even showed me on TV early on, but made a greasy 12‑footer on 1 for birdie.¬† Made another 8‑footer on 2 for par.¬† Made a greasy, like 6‑footer, double‑breaker on 3.¬† Made one from off the green on 4.¬† So that doesn't really count as a putt.
And then that's kind of how my round started.  I was like, wow, this stuff really works (laughter).

Q.  On the birdie putt on the last playoff hole, you celebrated pretty much.  Did you have a feeling in the back of your mind that Johnson wasn't going to make that putt?
JAMES HAHN:  I thought he was going to miss right.  I couldn't see it.  I didn't want to watch.  It's a tough putt, especially this late in the day, poa annua greens, third playoff hole to win a golf tournament.
But he's been putting great all day.  I never for one second would I put it past him that he was not going to make that putt.  I had kind of given a Tiger Woods fist pump there on the third playoff hole and shouted a little bit, which, you know, in the heat of the moment, it just came out.
But you know, it was‑‑ I don't know if Dustin was a little thrown off by that.¬† I do feel kind of bad about that, because it is a gentleman's game at the end of the day.¬† But I was just so happy that putt went in.
And then from there, I just kind of let fate take its place.

Q.  There was so much talk about Gangnam style from Phoenix that people were expecting more.  The subdued nature:  How humbling is winning?  That's what it seemed like, anyway?
JAMES HAHN:  Humbling is awesome.  Winning is awesome.  Everyone wants me to do the dance.  I don't think they even know my name (laughter).
I think a couple of guys in the locker room are calling me John, like John Huh.  It's amazing how many people don't know me.  (Laughter) and I don't think it's that amazing, but it's like, that's kind of cool.  They have no idea who I am.
I was walking up the stairs, and I played with Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson and this little kid was like:  "Okay, good job Jim.  Good job, Dustin.  Good job ..." he had nothing to say.  He was like, "who's that guy?"  (Laughter).
Even when I was signing hats after the round, I asked some guy, I was like:  "Hey, like is there a playoff?  Like what's going on."
He's like:  "Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and some other guy."
I was like, "Yeah?  Okay, cool, here's your hat."  (Laughter).
It's definitely humbling.  I mean, I don't expect anybody to know my game.  I just play golf for a living.

Q.  Going back to a shoe reference here, but at what point did you, or did you ever think about quitting when you ran out of money and didn't want to take anyone else's, did you ever consider doing something else for a living?  Did it reach that point?
JAMES HAHN:  Other than selling shoes for a living?  Yeah, I had played my first year on the Korean Tour, played two years on the Canadian Tour, and it was my first year on the Canadian Tour that I was struggling.
And I thought, these guys were really good.¬† My game definitely needed improvement at that point.¬† I had just under $200 going into Edmonton that week, and I'm sitting there in my room on my‑‑ I've got to borrow money to pay for my caddie fee.¬† Like it was a little embarrassing.¬† I was going to borrow money from my parents to get a flight home.¬† And I'm sitting there on the computer going on Craigslist and I start looking for jobs.
It kind of just hit me, like, hey, you have an opportunity to do something with your life.  And I was wasting it just hanging out with friends, partying on the weekends.  I wasn't putting the time in.
And kind of committed to myself that if given the opportunity, given the opportunity again that I wouldn't waste it.  That week, I had one of the best weeks of my life and finished eighth, and that kind of rolled over into, you know, a couple more weeks, and finished out the season keeping my card.  I thought, that was, to me, a very successful season.

Q.  What year was that?
JAMES HAHN:  I'm going to say 2008.

Q.  Do you remember how much you made?
JAMES HAHN:¬† That week?¬† Eighth place, I think it was like $3,000.¬† But to me‑‑ it was Canadian, too.¬† But to me at that point, like $3,000, you might as well have just given me $1million.¬† I could play golf; I could keep playing golf.
And then I remember exactly a year later, I was at that same golf tournament, and I had like $2,000 at this point and I thought I was a millionaire still.  I was like, dinner's on me, guys.  Got $1,000 in my bank account.  Don't worry about it.  And had good memories going into that golf tournament and kind of, you know, seeing exactly a year ago where I was and how much work I put into it and to be able to still play golf at that point.  That was a big, big goal of mine to just keep playing golf at that point.
And I actually won that week in Edmonton.¬† To me, I have kind of good vibes there, and that started off my career, really, because then I qualified for Q‑School, went through all three stages, got my Web.com Tour card, and then from there, it was just a matter of time.

Q.¬† Surprised first‑‑ to win on Tour‑‑
JAMES HAHN:  I wasn't even thinking about that.  That's pretty cool.

Q.¬† First Cal guy‑‑
JAMES HAHN:  That's awesome.  There are so many good players coming out of Cal right now.  Brandon Hagy just played, was it last week?  He did play last week.  Max Homa, another great guy.  There's so many good guys coming through that program.  They had an epic season two years ago, when they had won 12 golf tournaments.  I just wanted to kind of be the first.  That was also a goal of mine to do that and I did it.  So I feel good about that.

Q.  We don't talk about much money in here but the fact that you brought it up, and the $3,000 was like $1million, it really is like $1million now?
JAMES HAHN:  No, it is $1million.  It's not like $1million.  (Laughter).

Q.¬† What's that like?¬† Is it almost mind‑boggling?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Do you know how many diapers I can buy with a million dollars?¬† This is‑‑ it's a dream come true.¬† I know it's clich√© to say that.
I was just talking to my wife on Wednesday, and she's driving a 2005 Volkswagen Jetta.¬† And this thing is a piece.¬† I mean, this thing has 130,000 miles on it.¬† I said, "If I finish Top‑5, I'm going to buy you a new car."¬† I said that to her yesterday.¬† I was like:¬† Hey, I'm doing pretty good, if I finish Top‑5, can I guy you a new car?
She said, no, there's nothing wrong with my car.  She absolutely loves her car.  "There's nothing wrong with my car."  She just got new tires the other day:  "This thing's perfect."
I'm like, "No, it's not."  So I think I need to go buy a new car when I get home.

Q.  Apologies for not knowing this, but what is your status for The Presidents Cup, being born in South Korea but raised here in America.  Which side would you play for?
JAMES HAHN:  Right.  I would play for the U.S. side, which means I have absolutely no chance of making the team.  (Laughter) I need to win like ten of these.
Yeah, I was born in Korea.  I was born a U.S. citizen, though.  I kind of say it to kids who don't understand, I always say it like this:  If your parents were vacationing in Jamaica and you were born in Jamaica, would you be Jamaican?
And they are like, "Yeah."
I was like, "No, you would not be."  So I'm the same way.  So I'm American.
LAURA NEAL:  Can you elaborate, if you were to make the team and play in Korea, what that would mean?
JAMES HAHN:¬† Other than winning this golf tournament and my child, it would be the third‑best thing that ever happened to me (laughter).
I don't even think about it.  It's like me slam dunking a basketball.  That's never going to happen.  No, I really don't think I have a chance.  So I don't even think about things like that.

Q.  So on the last nine today, seemed like other golfers were having trouble.  When it started raining, they were putting their jackets on and having the umbrellas coming over them and having to deal with the elements.  Players like Goosen seemed to crumble when the weather turned bad.  Just talk about how the weather affected and you how you were able to overcome.
JAMES HAHN:¬† I told my caddie before I teed off, I was like, I love the rain, absolutely love it.¬† I feel like it's‑‑ not to be spiritual about it, but I feel like it's God's way of just kind of washing the streets and making everything fresh again.
Because that's what happens in the Bay Area when we get a lot of rain, the streets are clean, spotless.  I absolutely love it.  I remember days when I was living at home I would go to Metropolitan Golf Links and it would be raining every single day and I would be the only guy on the range.  I would go home and look at myself in the mirror and say, you know what, you worked hard today, you deserve to go to sleep, you deserve all the good things that happen to you, because I think I put a lot of time into this.
When it was raining today, kind of brought me back to being very spiritual and just saying, I love this.  It's golf.  It's not a fair weather sport.  We don't play indoors.  It was coming down sideways for a little bit.  I was like, "God, that's a little too much."
But it stopped, and yeah, it turned out to be a beautiful day.

Q.¬† Back on the shoe theme.¬† Did selling shoes make you‑‑ are you a big‑time shoe connoisseur now, and are you buying your wife a pair of really nice shoes with that?
JAMES HAHN:  Luckily both my wife and I are not really shoe connoisseur.  I think I have like four pairs of shoes at home, which is not many.  My wife has four times the amount.
Yeah, I don't think we can afford Nordstrom to be honest.  That's kind of high end, don't you think?  I worked in the Salon Shoes department, and there's some really expensive shoes there.  We are more of a Footlocker kind of people.  Being on TOUR has its perks.  I get shoes from Under Armor and they do a good job of providing me with clothes and stuff.  She unfortunately has to go out and buy her own.  She goes to DSW and buys a couple pair when they are on sale.  I'm embarrassing her right now (laughter).

Q.¬† When you had the 4‑putt at Q‑School, did you think a day like this would some day come still?¬† What did that do to you?
JAMES HAHN:  Absolutely.  Part of my story.  Had a putt to get my card and at the time I thought it was the most devastating thing that's ever happened to me.  But being able to play three years on the Web.com Tour, I think that's one of the reasons why I'm here today.  One of the reasons why I'm here in this room today.
        I feel like I played some really good golf on the Web.com Tour, and I played some really bad golf on the Web.com Tour.  To not be on TV when that's happening, I think is a bonus, because you can work on things on that tour, and I did get my first victory on the Web.com Tour in Raleigh and that was also in a playoff.
I feel like I fed off of that today, and I have a pretty good record in playoffs, which is pretty cool.  But you know, just back on certain memories, it seems like my best years were on that TOUR, so I feel like I could draw back on some of those memories, regardless of what tour I'm playing.  If you're playing well, you're playing good enough to win out here on this tour.
LAURA NEAL:  Congratulations.

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