June 1, 2006
TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Sean O'Hair, 5 under, 67 the first round of the Memorial Tournament.
Sean, a great start actually, a double bogey on the third hole and from there on it was cruise control. But a great start overall for you.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it's great. It's been a while since I had a good start to an event, so it's nice to just feel positive about what happened today instead of fighting, trying to make the cut.
TODD BUDNICK: I know you were unhappy with the way you began the season, but you've shown signs in the last month. Anything in particular that you
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, the whole West Coast was kind of a tough, tough deal for me, because I was working with an instructor who was we were working on a few things. And I don't think they fit me. And finally I made an instructor change at Doral, to a guy I used to work with Gary Gilcrest, that I used to work with as a junior at the Leadbetter Academy.
He looks at it from a player's perspective. And he kind of clarifies things for me, and he keeps it simple for me. And he's worked with my swing instead of trying to rebuild a swing. I think my swing is pretty good. It won a lot of money last year. And I'm just kind of getting back to that and working on shaping shots and stuff like that. And I've been working with Rotel a little bit on trying to clear my head out there. There's been a lot of negative thoughts going on. And so I just think the last month has kind of been you're starting to see a little bit of some progress as far as the hard work is concerned. I've been working pretty hard on the Graham and the mental side.
Q. Why do you even consider, I guess, maybe rebuilding your swing?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I really didn't. I didn't want to rebuild my swing, it just kind of like we felt like it was just something to improve my swing. And it just wasn't what was best for me. I just think that I'm the type of player that is very much feel oriented. I'm not going good on position and all of that nonsense, and I like to shape shots. I want to get to a point I think that's one thing I admire so much about Tiger and the better players, is with Tiger, playing a few rounds with him, any shot that it's like he just comes to his ball and if I was to take a test and somebody was to say, "What shot would you play here?" He plays it. It's nice to see the shaping of shots. I think with all the great ball strikers, Hogan and Snead and Nicklaus, they kind of did the same thing. So that's really what I'm trying to work on, and trying to see my shots and just feel my shots a little bit and go from there. It's just more playing the game, I think.
Q. How did you double No. 3? And how did you get yourself rolling?
SEAN O'HAIR: I hit the ball great on the first two holes. I had a great drive, a great second, and had two putts that were pretty close to going in. And I hit a good drive on 3. It's a tough shot, because if you go over or left, at all, especially with the bunkers the way they are, you're just trying to make bogey. And that's what I did. I miss hit a shot, bad swing, and pulled it and just missed it in the worst possible shot on that hole. So I probably should have fired at the pin. I think I was playing a little too safe. I was going for the middle of the green trying to play a cut, and I pulled it. I was better off just firing at the pin, because if I miss alternatives right, you've got a shaved area. And if I miss it short, I'm in the bunker, it's a pretty easy up and down. I think it was more of a mental error.
And then I think the thing I've been working with Rotel a little bit is just trying to stay in the present moment and just play. I think earlier in the year, I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform, especially with the results I had last year. And it's that much harder to perform. This game is obviously hard enough as it is. He always tells me, "Just go out and play, and don't think try to shoot a score." Or this or that, and just go out and play. And that's how I didn't let the double bother me. And my caddie, Bobby, he does a good job of communicating out there, trying to keep me focused and trying to get me to forget shots that I hit, and try to stay focused on the present shot.
Q. Had you done that before this year, where when things were not getting off maybe swimmingly, that one hole early on that would put you over par would
SEAN O'HAIR: I've always struggled with if I make a mistake, it normally is in a group. If you look at general stats or tendencies. So I think that I think that what was the question again?
Q. Considering how your season started this year, were you letting yourself get irritated with that?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think the pressure going in that I put on myself, going into this year was a tremendous amount. I had a lot of expectations of myself, because I felt that, hey, I've proved myself. I think I can compete with these guys on a weekly basis, instead of just focusing on what I did last year, and that was just play my game. And so now I'm just trying to get back to just playing my game and let the results come.
I definitely struggled with whenever I had a bad hole. It's like, "Well, I've got to fight back." Now it's kind of like, "Well, let's just move on and play and see how
Q. Did you feel like you were disappointing people when you weren't scoring well?
SEAN O'HAIR: Absolutely. Most of all, I felt like I was disappointing myself. I hate saying this, because obviously it's kind of the same stuff, but I don't want to just be on the PGA TOUR. I want to be I want to be the best on the Tour, eventually. I'm not there, but eventually I want to be one of the best on the Tour. And eventually I want to be one of the best in the game, period. I was trying to do that yesterday. I think I jumped ahead of myself and I just need to get back to the present time.
Q. What happened yesterday? Did I miss something?
SEAN O'HAIR: No.
Q. Is it accurate that you read a couple of Nicklaus books once to get yourself straightened out?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I was at the Deere, struggling with my ball striking, and I really didn't have anything to go on, so I went I think it was Borders, I went to Borders and bought a couple of Nicklaus books, more for just visuals, because his books are great because they show not only does he talk about it, but he illustrates what he does and feels and stuff like that. So it's a great book to read to kind of clear my mind and get my mind focused on one thing. It didn't really it wasn't like a magic wand, where it got me just all of a sudden hitting the ball well. But I think what it did was it got my mind focused on one thing. So when I was in the heat, I was focused on one thing, not worrying about ten gazillion things.
Q. Did you talk to him about it and say, "Jack, your book is pretty good"?
SEAN O'HAIR: I met him at the International last year and just talked to him briefly a little bit. But he was pretty busy, so I never really had a chance to sit down and talk to him about it. But he did a pretty good job with those.
Q. One other thing, you might be, just the example of a lot of guys who are in his tournament action who don't really have that much of a relationship with him, because of your age. Is that accurate? Could you discuss that?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think he's the greatest player right now, he's the greatest player that ever played the game, so he's a pretty busy guy. And I'm traveling a lot and playing events. He's got a totally different life style. If he was out here playing on the PGA TOUR, it would probably be a lot easier to get to know him a little bit better. But I hardly ever see him. I think that's the reason why.
Q. You mentioned working the ball. And from everything I've heard from other guys and read under today's technology, it's much harder to work the ball. How are you working the ball?
SEAN O'HAIR: I disagree with that. I don't think it's harder. I don't see how it's harder. You just open the face and hit a fade, close it and hit a draw. I can see that the ball doesn't move as much as it used to, because obviously the driver, the Persimmon drivers and a lot of the balls and stuff, because you're putting more spin on the ball. Now we're talking about hitting less spin, hitting it farther and that stuff. The ball is not going to move as much. But for me, I still try to work the ball. I think it was Hogan or Nicklaus or somebody who said there's no such thing as a straight ball. And I'm a true believer in that.
Q. You mentioned Gary. How does he get you back to being more of a "feel" player? You say you were less technical?
SEAN O'HAIR: He's worked with me before, so he knows how I work. It was just a matter of saying, "Hey, let's get back on track, here. We know what your swing does, and your swing is good. We've just got to fine tune it, instead of changing the back swing a little bit and trying to change the playing." You see a lot of guys out there changing their playing and everything, which is fine. But I feel pretty comfortable with my swing. And I know my tendencies, so that's kind of what he was doing is he's just trying to teach me about my own swing a little bit so I can go out there and work with it.
He just made things a little more simple. He's got certain things that he has me that I do to get certain feels and stuff. And that's how he teaches.
Q. He's worked with a lot of young players?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, with Michelle Wie, I think with Paula Cramer and a lot of guys.
Q. How old were you when you first started working with him?
SEAN O'HAIR: About 15, 16.
Q. As much I think I've heard you say this but as much stability that Steve brought to you at that time in your life, was it difficult, awkward, making the switch?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, it was a mutual thing. It wasn't like "Well, Steve, I've got to tell you some bad news, I'm firing you." It wasn't like that at all. For some reason, we started talking about it at dinner one night. And I said, "Hey, maybe we need to think about making a change." And we did. And we felt like now was the best time, instead of waiting at the end of the year and doing it, or waiting until next year. It's pretty easy. It's hard to see him go, because I miss him being out here. It's nice to have him out here and enjoy some things with him. But I think it's good for both him and I, to be honest with you, in the long run.
Q. Is he going to be at the U.S. Open, that would be weird?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, I think he's going to enjoy it a little bit more. He'll be able to enjoy it rather than working. And plus, it's going to be brutally hot, so he'll have a beer or two at the turn.
Q. I just wanted your opinion about the way the bunkers are raked here?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, they asked me that outside. A trap is a trap, it's a hazard. You're not supposed to be there. So if they're more difficult, it's like I kind of look at them like the pot bunkers at St. Andrews. If you're at a pot bunker at St. Andrews, it's very difficult to get out of it.
The bunkers here are not hidden, you know where they are. So don't hit it there. If you don't hit it there, you don't have to worry about it.
Q. Did you hit it there today?
SEAN O'HAIR: I did. You get some good lies and some bad lies and you deal with it. That's the thing. Is it more difficult? Yeah, it's a lot more difficult. Does it get you to think a little bit more? Yeah, it does. But everybody has to play.
TODD BUDNICK: Your birdies, par 3.
SEAN O'HAIR: Par 3, I hit a good 5 iron and it was a putt that broke quite a bit left right to left, a fast putt. So I just felt it in there and perfect putt. I think it was about 25 feet or so.
The next hole, par 5, hit a good drive, good second on the green, made just a nice, solid 2 putt. I was on the back left, and it was a pretty tricky 2 putt so I was pretty pleased with that.
And then 7, made it I kind of pushed my driver a little bit, but it was still in the fairway. I tried to kill a 3 wood and probably the worst swing of the day, I hit it fat and pushed it out to the woods. I got lucky and had an open shot to the green, but I had to go over the bunker, over the tree, and hit a pretty soft shot. I hit a beautiful flop shot and it was about 50 yards and had about a six or seven footer left and made it.
And then the next hole, the par 3, just hit a beautiful 8 iron underneath the hole and made a putt, pretty simple putt.
And then 9, it was just one of those holes you get lucky making the putt. I think it was like 25 feet or so, just saw the line, it was a nice little putt.
And then 15. 15 was an exciting hole. I hit a good 3 wood for my tee shot. I hit a beautiful 5 wood right on line, I thought I'd stiffed it. But it was just past the hole about 15 feet, 20 feet, something like that. And very fast putt and just trying to lag it up there and almost holed it. That was a nice little birdie.
And then 18, the first and second shots were the best shots of the day. I didn't feel very comfortable over the ball today as far as ball striking was concerned. So it was nice to finish hitting the ball well. And just a straight, dead cut to the center putt and made it.
Q. What drivers did you hit today?
SEAN O'HAIR: Not many.
Q. Used to be a bomber's course, isn't what you've always heard?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, I didn't hear that. I think it's a placement golf course. Like I would imagine a Stephen Ames playing well here, because it's kind of like Sawgrass a little bit. But I don't know how many drivers. Not a whole lot. The first hole I hit 5 wood, second hole I hit 3 wood. Third hole 5 wood. Par 5, 3 wood. I hit driver on the next hole. Hit driver on the par 5. And hit 3 wood on 9. Hit driver on 10. What's 11? 11, hit 5 wood. The long par 4 I hit driver. The next hole I hit 3 iron that's 14 15 I hit 3 wood. 17 I hit 3 wood. 18 a 5 wood. So four drivers today.
Q. Is 18 playing downwind today?
SEAN O'HAIR: A little bit, yeah, a little bit. That's a tricky hole. It's like you hit a driver perfect, it can very easily be in the rough. So it's just kind of like what do you do there? So I just felt more comfortable with a 5 wood, laying it back to the flat and having a little longer shot in.
Q. If you would, please, I'm trying to get a sense of what some differences between feeling and thinking when you play. You talk about going back to feeling. What kind of things were in your mind before you started feeling? And what's it feel like to feel?
SEAN O'HAIR: Like what I'm thinking now is see your shot so say I walk up to a ball, see your shot, say I want to hit a fade. And I know what a fade feels like. So it's just I can't really explain it. It feels like a fade. And so I swing the feel. Instead of picking out a target and trying a straight shot and having swing thought. You know what I mean? A swing shot is stay down through it or hold your finish or something like that. So I'm trying to get away from the technical side. I'm trying to get more target oriented and more feel oriented than more shot oriented, so that's what I mean.
TODD BUDNICK: Thanks. Good luck the rest of the week.
End of FastScripts.