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May 10, 2016

James Hahn

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Well, we would like to welcome our most recent PGA TOUR winner, James Hahn. It was just a day between winning and extra holes over at Wells Fargo Championship for your second PGA TOUR win. Coming in this week, you're making your fourth consecutive start. Obviously probably feeling good after Sunday, but can you talk us through the day that you had to digest, the weekend, and going into this week.

JAMES HAHN: Overwhelming support from all the friends and family that have been with me since day one, have been with me with my first win, have been supporting me through the last two months of poor golf, and then to break through with my second win. It's great to see that there's a lot of good people out there that still root for me that believe in me, and it's -- it feels good to make them proud, and it's one of the reasons why I play so hard. Obviously I play for my family, but all the people that have supported me throughout the years, I feel like I owe it to them to give it a little extra.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Well, a stat is a stat, and the stat is you are coming off eight missed cuts and then you got that win. So talk about the state of your game and what was going right for you last week.

JAMES HAHN: Yeah, we -- the PGA TOUR does a great job of keeping our stats. And it's one of the things that I do look at after each round, after each golf tournament. And there was really no glaring stat that said that I was really bad at doing one thing or over something else. It was just a combination of one putt, one drive, one bad hole, one mud ball, one bad break, that kind of snowballed into a couple bogeys and a couple missed cuts. I think that three or four out of the eight golf tournaments that I had missed the cut, I missed by one or two strokes. On the PGA TOUR, that's really one shot.

I can think back to Innisbrook on a par-3 hole, 13, my ball hits a sprinkler head, goes over the green 30 yards, underneath the tree, stymied in between two roots. Chip that one over the green, goes in the water, makes triple. If it doesn't hit the sprinkler head, I probably get up-and-down for par, save three strokes and make the cut.

Same with a lot of the other golf courses. New Orleans, a couple mud balls here and there. But those are the differences, difference between hitting a shot to 20 feet and making birdie or mud taking it over to the right, being plugged in a bunker and not getting up-and-down and making bogey. So all in all, I felt like the game was there, the confidence was there, but the results weren't. And in a game that we play where at the end of the day you basically have you a score and everyone judges you by a score, I feel like that's really not fair, and that's something that my caddie and I work hard at to just see how well we're playing, how well we're executing shots and going through our process, and I feel like we have been doing that the last eight weeks very successfully. There was no reason why I wasn't ready to break out for another win.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Besides the math, what's the difference between being a one-time winner on the PGA TOUR and getting that second win?

JAMES HAHN: Huge. My wife and I probably said it a thousand times on the way down here, we drove from Charlotte, and it's got a good ring to it, two-time PGA TOUR champ. I still, I feel like I'm dreaming. It's really unbelievable. It still hasn't sunk in yet. It's been the greatest 48 hours, 24 hours, however long it is, that going from making a cut on the PGA TOUR and stopping the streak of eight consecutive missed cuts to PGA TOUR champion, it was really no other better feeling than that. And it's just a validation of all the hard work that I've put into it and all the support that I've gotten over the years.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Besides all the texts, how was it when you arrived here on-site, the support you received from fellow players?

JAMES HAHN: Amazing. Amazing. Yeah, we compete against each other one a weekly basis, but to have the guys that I play against that we all practice hard to beat each other, to see them come up to me and congratulate me, it really shows how good a group of guys that the PGA TOUR has. Everyone's happy for me, genuinely happy for me, and that's something that's very rare on this TOUR or in any other sport, that you can see, you can compete, you can play against someone like Roberto in a sudden death playoff where we're just trying to kill each other in that playoff and then at the end of it all, be genuinely happy for the other person. Hats off go to Roberto, because he's a true competitor, but also a good friend of mine as well.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Great. Start with questions.

Q. During that tough stretch, how much, if any, pressure did you feel from sponsors saying, well, we're not endorsing you to not be on TV on the weekend? How much of the difficulty when you're in a stretch like that comes from external sources like that?
JAMES HAHN: It's definitely an internal pressure that I felt. So starting from the beginning of this year, I did switch equipment I'm using PXG equipment from driver, 3-wood, hybrid to the irons. There was a -- you hear people talking about players changing golf clubs and then taking a couple weeks, months, years, to get accustomed to the new equipment. And I wouldn't honestly, going to my wife and my daughter, I would never make a decision based off of money. I would always make it based off of performance. These golf clubs have helped me become a two-time PGA TOUR champion, and I can say that and I validated it last week. Bob Parsons, Mr. Bob Parsons, is a good friend, and there was no pressure for me to perform to his, to see his expectation. He had actually had reached out through Matt Rollins, the PGA TOUR rep for PXG, that if I ever needed any help, if I need a workout trainer, a massage therapist, just whoever, that he would be happy to help and assist in that part of my life.

But you know, it's really, it comes down to just wanting it more than anyone else and just saying, hey, look, I'm going to do this for myself, do it for my wife, do it for my daughter, and I don't really need to try to prove anything to anyone other than myself, and I think that's the hardest thing to do on this TOUR.

Q. When you come here, 16, 17 and 18 get a lot of focus. Can you cite the first 15 holes some hole that's memorable or a stretch of holes that's memorable, and do you play those 15 holes with a different mindset than the final three?
JAMES HAHN: I play every hole with a different mindset. I think it's one of the toughest golf courses that we play all year. There's not one hole where you can take for granted and say this is an easy par hole or an easy birdie hole. There is trouble everywhere. Hole 16 is very special to me. I had made, I think, a 10 on it last year and it was the best 10 I have ever made. I could have been a lot worse. Yeah, going into the week, no matter who I was with, I would always tell whoever was in our group how I made 10 on this hole on hole 16 the year before. I said this is the most unbelievable 10 I ever made. You got to listen to this story, and my caddie's like, why are you telling this story, like why would you want to relive that; he's like, let's think about the week. And he's saying, we're going to beat this hole.

And I kind of thought about it for a second, and I was like, you know what, you're right. I was like, we're going to play this hole 1-under par for the tournament. And lo and behold, I played it 1-under par for the tournament.

Those are the things that you feed on. I unexpectedly made birdie on it on Saturday, to go 1-under for the tournament, and then had one of the best bunker shots I've ever hit in my life to make par on Sunday to stay at 1-under, and at the end of the day, I'm like, I kind of told my caddie, I told you we would go 1-under for on that hole for the week.

It's crazy how thought can become a reality, if you truly believe in it and you focus on what good can happen as opposed to what bad can happen, because on that tee box, if you -- I've seen guys, well, last year I hit it into that right bunker and I couldn't even reach the green from there. It's 210 downhill, wind's blowing in your face, and you have to -- and the lip is three feet high and you have to carry a 5-iron from a bunker, sidehill lie that's sitting down, and it's like, there's no way you're going to make par from this bunker. But if you hit it left, there's a possibility it rolls all the way down and goes in the hazard, and that's what happened last year.

And the slope is so severe that you really can't drop on the hill. They actually grew out the rough a little bit this year, so last year what happened is I went all the way on the other side of the -- it was a bad move -- all the way to the other side of the creek on the lake and was trying to hit my next shot over the like. And I was basically just doing a Tin Cup, just dropping, hitting a shot, going in the water, didn't work, let's try it again. Drop another ball. Did the same thing. And I could have stayed there for 20 minutes trying to hit that shot, but we would have eventually run out of golf balls, so I bailed out and I can tell you later, it was the best 10 I've ever made, but those are the things that you kind of think about and obsess about, and that's kind of the reason why I've been doing what I have been doing of eight straight missed cuts. You start thinking about, this is the hole where I made 10 and missed the cut by one. This is the hole, okay, you get a bad mud ball or your ball goes in a divot and you're like, okay, here it comes. Now I'm going to miss the cut by one because of this shot. And it's the fourth hole of a golf tournament.

So, credit to my caddie, Mark Urbanic, for always constantly reminding me of, hey, look, it doesn't have to be like that. You can -- you have the power to change your own thought process. And by changing that, you can change your own future and your own destiny. So I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him, so thank you.

Q. Is there one of those holes among those first 15 that particularly stands out that sort of gets under-publicized?
JAMES HAHN: Take your pick. We can go through the whole golf course. I mean, to me it's similar to Augusta, like every hole is special. Every hole you can make 10 or make 2. I mean, there's not one hole that stands out as like the signature hole, because they're all signature holes. I think hole 17 because of the water is the prettiest, but I played it 2-over par for the week. So I am not a big fan of it.

18, you know, hit two great shots, 3-putt on the 72nd hole and make bogey and then come back in a playoff and 2-putt from the same position for par. So, you know, anything can happen on any given golf hole. Yeah, it's just a great golf course. It's definitely one of my favorite venues.

Q. You come up with the missed cuts and there's the one swing here that leads to triple and whatnot. Not a lot of guys have real consistent records here, like a missed cut or top-10, a lot of elite players. Is it because out here there's that one swing that can just kind of ruin a week and lead to a missed cut because it's a triple and that sort of stuff?
JAMES HAHN: To me it shows that how intense the competition it on the PGA TOUR, that you have 132 guys teeing it up every week, they take the top 70 and ties, that more likely than not that more than half the field are not making double bogeys or making the little mistakes that cause the 73s and the 74s that kind of put you out of contention. The competition here is so high that you can't, you can afford to make mistakes, but you can't afford to make many of them. And if you're looking to win a golf tournament, you can't make -- you have to have a lot more birdies than bogeys, for sure, but you really have to minimize and do your best to save those one or two strokes, whether it's making bogey instead of double, and yeah, I really, I can't figure it out. I mean it's, we -- all of us play golf, all of us aren't perfect, we make bogeys out there. But it's crazy how I can go through a stretch and miss cuts by one or two, but it's also crazy that every tournament most of the tournaments -- almost all tournaments that I've won I had to go in a playoff. So even then, like 72 holes we're competing, different tee times and everything, and it's like at the end we're still tied, like, really? Like, so it just shows you how high the level that everyone is playing on any given week.

Q. Last week on Friday did you ever wonder, okay, where is the disaster coming? How could I screw this up? Or did you have to battle thinking that way?
JAMES HAHN: Definitely hole 16 was on my list of things I wanted to conquer for the week. I had talked to my wife about it earlier in the week that -- and touching on my caddie again, that he's really helped me a lot in the way I think and the process that I have now.

We can go through my performance year after year after year. I've only been on the TOUR for three years. This is my fourth consecutive year, and haven't really had much success at Quail Hollow. It's one of my favorite events, but the course beats me up every year, year after year. And I always feel like I'm not that good of a golfer because I always come out shooting even par or 1-under or 1-over while Rickie and Rory are shooting 7-, 8-under every day. So I was thinking about taking it off, but decided to play through it and the mentality of here we go again. You know, not only have I missed eight straight cuts but now I'm playing a golf course that I haven't had much success with and it's probably going to beat me up; why am I even playing this golf course, because I'm probably going to want to feel like quitting after the week if it I shoot 80-80.

But talking about it with my wife and my caddie and the people that have been supporting me, that it doesn't have to be that way, that if I just focus on the good things that could happen, that good thing probably will, good things will probably happen. Going into the week it was a fresh slate. We, Mark Urbanic, my caddie, and I basically just said, you know what, the feeling that we had going into the Sony Open was, here we go, it's a brand new year, this is great, we're starting off in Hawaii, everyone's excited to be there, everyone's saying hello, everyone's very upbeat; well, why can't it be that way for the second half of the year, so we were just kind of saying, okay, look, the last eight weeks, the first half of the year, great. I was like, this is a new season, our season starts today. And we went into that week thinking, this is great, we're on the PGA TOUR, we're playing Quail Hollow, like this is an awesome venue, this is a great golf tournament. Wells Fargo putts on a great show for the fans and the players. This is one of the best tournaments that we have all year. Why can't I go into it thinking that, hey, just like I go into a Sony Open, this is awesome. Like this is going to be a great year.

So, turning a stretch of eight straight missed cuts in thinking that, hey, this is going to be probably one of the worst years that I've had as a professional, to now I win and it's one of the best years that I've had as a professional, I mean things can happen quickly on this TOUR in a week, and we were -- we as a team, we're ready for this. I mean, we were thinking about it, we were obsessing about it, and we put all our focus and all our energy into saying that, hey, this is going to be a great year, we're going to turn it around, and we ended up doing that.

Q. You don't have a swing coach; is that correct? And do you have a mental coach at all of any sort that you use?
JAMES HAHN: I don't, but it seems like my caddie is.

Q. That's where I was --
JAMES HAHN: I need to start paying him a little extra now.

Q. That's what I was getting to. Does he have any sort of training in that field at all? Obviously everything you've been talking about here is very much --
JAMES HAHN: Yeah, he's a runner. He runs a lot. He's actually going to run the Chicago Marathon, yeah. He's ran the New York Marathon, Boston Marathon, and he uses some of the training that he goes through on me. I mean if you've ever run for -- how long is a marathon?

Q. 26.2.
JAMES HAHN: There you go. That's a long ways. That's like a 30-minute drive, right? So, if you've ever run that much, you know, John, you know, right, that you just have to constantly tell yourself, I can do this, I can do this. There's pain in your stomach, there's pain in your legs, you're sweating, your shoulders hurt, your arms hurt, every part of your body hurts, and you're just telling yourself, I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to keep going, keep going, keep going. So he's kind of used that Jedi training on me saying you can do this, you can do this, don't ever give up. This is just week 20 of 52 that we have that we can turn this season around, you can do this.

So he's helped me out a lot. I always touch on things that I've heard in the past and Anthony Kim kind of comes up. I don't know why. He's a great -- first of all, a great golfer, but I just heard this and it kind of stuck with me, and someone asked him if he was seeing a sports psychologist or what he thought about them, and not saying anything bad about sports psychologists, they do a great job with their students, but he had said, if I need to pay someone to tell me how good I am, I'm probably not in the right profession.

So those are the kind of things that I remember, and I don't have a sports psychologist. Sometimes you do need to pay someone to tell you how good you are, but if you constantly remind yourself, just like how Mark and I, we would constantly tell ourselves, hey, we are really close to breaking out, I know we have missed the last five cuts, six cuts, seven cuts, eight cuts, that we can turn this around and we're really close to breaking out. And we ended up proving that last week.

Q. This is your fourth time here. What do you learn about this course each year and is it more importantly to kind of navigate it safely than be aggressive or what's that kind of balance, since there is so much trouble?
JAMES HAHN: It seems like it gets tougher every year. The rough is insane. You can have -- I just played two holes today. It was pretty slow out there, as far as the pace of play, but the greens were firm, they were rolling 13 and a half on the Stimp. I hit maybe six chips just off of hole 1 green. Four of them went on the green and the other two didn't from 10 feet off. It's the type of grass where it can make you look silly. There's a lot of grain off the greens, you have to see which way the grain's going, how long the blade of grass is, and basically sometimes even play safe.

I know that Phil is probably one of the best chippers in the game, looks at chipping it in almost every single time that he's around the green, maybe 10 feet off, 30 feet away from the pin, but there's some shots out there where you're just trying to get it on the green. It's that type of golf course. So, for me, there's a premium on hitting fairways, premium on hitting greens. No matter where you are on the greens, you have an opportunity to make birdie, if not par at worst. So, with the greens being smaller in size compared to other golf courses, I feel like fairways, greens and then just trying to makes a many putts as possible. I don't think anyone's going to run away with it on this golf course, especially if the wind picks up.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Well, James, thank you for your time and good luck this week.

JAMES HAHN: Thank you.

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