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April 26, 2007

Sean O'Hair


STEWART MOORE: We welcome Sean O'Hair to the interview room here at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship after an opening round 65. Sean currently sitting 58th place in the FedExCup points standings through the season.
I spoke with you earlier this year at Harbour Town, and obviously after getting off to a slower start this season you've definitely turned it around, Top 15 your last four events, I believe, and under par in 11 of your last 12 rounds. What's kind of been the difference between earlier this year and now?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I'm working on some things that I really believe in. I went back to an old instructor of mine, and things are starting to click. For me, and I think for everybody, golf is just about confidence, and it's just going out there with the feeling I'm going to play well, and that just wasn't the case at the beginning of the season.
STEWART MOORE: If you could maybe just hit a couple high points of your round today.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I think No. 1, obviously a pretty difficult hole. I bombed a drive and had a 5-wood into the green, and I probably hit one of the best 5-woods I've ever hit in my career, knocked it to like maybe about eight, ten feet, and made the putt.
Then I hit a really good 9-iron on the 2nd hole, made that putt from about the same distance, and just kind of got my round going. You know, just was hitting a lot of greens and making some putts.
And then I started off really good on the back. 10, I hit a nice little 9-iron kind of short of the green and ran it up there and made the putt.
11, had a good chance for eagle, left it short.
12, hit a great shot with 4-iron, the wind didn't take it, ended up making bogey there.
And then I got it right back, which I thought made a huge statement for me. Playing well, then you make a bogey after a good shot, it's important to come back strong. So it was nice to get that birdie on 13.
Then had a really nice chance on 16 for eagle, and I think I had a nice line, I just left it short.
And then 17 was the one bad swing of the day. That was the only swing that I did not like, and I made bogey.
18 was a nice up-and-down for par.
So all in all, I felt really good with my ball-striking, and I feel like I'm starting the putts on my line, and it was just a really nice round of golf.

Q. What are you working on? You said you were working on some things you believe in, and talk about the -- when did you change instructors from and to?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, actually the guy I'm seeing, Steve Dahlby, we kind of parted ways right before I won, which was the week right before John Deere. And ever since then, I've seen a few guys. I was working with Gary Gilchrist for a while, and I guess it was right after Bay Hill I started seeing Steve again. He came out to Shell Houston and we started working again, and just immediately the chemistry was there and things started clicking.
As far as what we're working on, I'm just -- I've been working hard for the past, I guess, year and a half on my backswing and it really hasn't been making too much sense. You know, all of '05 I just was working on my downswing, just working on -- through impact I was trying to get less handsy, just really release the club more with my body, and that's kind of what I've gotten back to. And that's, you know -- I don't know why you change.

Q. I think it was Butch Harmon who said one time that you can go down to the range and look at the pros working on their backswing, you know those are the pros that aren't making any money (laughter).
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, the backswing really doesn't matter. To me it's like when I work on my backswing, I just lose my rhythm. I think I've always had some pretty good motion, pretty good rhythm in my swing, and whenever I started working on my backswing, I lose feel where the club is, and I just lose sight of my shot shaping. It's like I'm not even playing golf.
But now it just feels -- there's a few key things that I'm working on, and every day I'm hitting the ball great. So it's just trying to improve on that.

Q. Was there one thing in particular that clicked? Because at one point it's just been since then you've just been Top 15.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I truthfully believe that with golf, we all strive to understand our games. My game is different than say Vijay or top players; I mean, anybody out here, my game is different than theirs. There's a few things that -- you know, a few things, maybe a handful of things, that make me play well.
You know, obviously for somebody to come out here and compete with the best, you've got to have confidence. You see the best players in the world, whether they're playing well or not, they have confidence in their ability, and I think that's because they understand their game.
And I'm starting to get to that point where I understand what makes me play well, and it's just -- certain things to do, whether it be working out, whether it be things to do after a round or before a round. I'm starting to kind of get into some routines and stuff, just stuff like that that helps you play better.
So there's a few things that have clicked, but ever since I switched back to Steve Dahlby, I just -- just the understanding of my game has just kind of hit me.

Q. How was the wind situation at No. 1 when you played it today, hitting 5-wood in, and taking birdie there, that may be like an eagle the way that hole has played in recent years.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, when I made that birdie putt, I walked over to my caddie, who's my father-in-law, Steve, and I just gave him the putter, and he goes, "Well, that's a skin." I looked at him and said, "I wouldn't be surprised."
I was very pleased to sneak away, and I think that was definitely a sneak-away with a birdie there. The wind was really brutal at the beginning. You know, you got -- I don't even know how long that first hole is, I think it's like close to 470.
But when I nail a drive -- I hit it long, I hit it 300 yards plus, and I caught it, and I still had a 5-wood in. I can't even remember what I had -- I think I had like 220-something to the pin, and it's slightly downhill, and I nuked a -- I hit a knock-down stinger 5-wood, and I normally -- if I jump on my 5-wood, I hit it about 250, so it was playing pretty tough out there.
You know, especially on the front nine, there's a lot of -- when it's downwind, the greens are firm so you've really got to be careful with that. 2 is kind of a tricky little hole. And then 3 is just basically No. 1 all over again; you nuke a drive and you've got a 5-wood in there. I actually was short of the green with a 5-wood.
You know, I played really well on my front nine, and I think that just is what made me have a good round today because you start to see that right now the wind is kind of dying down.

Q. Obviously a lot of good memories, almost winning here two years ago. Just wondering, coming back, does that help you playing where you've played well before?
SEAN O'HAIR: Absolutely. It's always nice to come back to a course that you've played well on or you've played well at. I was actually playing with Kenny Perry today, and I'm sure his golf course is Colonial since he's won twice there.
But for me I'm very comfortable playing in Texas, and I'm very comfortable with the wind here and comfortable with the people here. I love the food, and it's just like kind of coming back home a little bit. You know, it's just nice to be back, and it's such a great event.
This is one of the biggest events of the year besides the majors and THE PLAYERS Championship. So this is a good one to play good at.

Q. What about Cottonwood Valley? It's your only round there this year, but anything special when you know you're going over there?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, you just know -- I guess before I saw the golf course yesterday, you know that's the course you've got to score well on. But after playing yesterday's Pro-Am, which actually blew harder than it did today, you know, I actually told Steve, I said, this course is playing tough. I mean, it's longer, the rough is up, the greens are firm.
But, you know, that's definitely a shot-makers' golf course, I think. You've got to hit fades, you've got to hit draws, there's doglegs, and you've got to hit the right clubs off the tee. 18 is a perfect example. You can hit driver over the corner, you can hit 3-iron, you can hit 5-wood. You can probably play five different clubs off that tee.
I like courses like that. I don't like courses where you just take your driver all day and bomb it. I just like this place, both courses.

Q. Two years ago when you were the runner-up and you led a couple rounds, that was kind of what a lot of people saw as a big breakthrough for you. How different are you now as a player and how much have you learned about yourself in these two years?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think I might have gained a pound since then (laughter). As far as a difference, there's not a whole lot of difference. You know, I think I'm more seasoned, I'm more experienced. I mean, this was my 12th event in '05 -- no, it wasn't my 12th event. I can't remember what event it was.
But, you know, just as far as my personality, I think everything else is pretty much the same. I still get nervous on the first tee and all that stuff, but I think my game is completely different. I think I understand it more. I kind of know what's going on. I'm a lot more comfortable out here.
But it's nice to always come back here because this is kind of where I broke through. This is where I finally realized that, hey, I'm good enough to be out here. You always have that question in the back of your mind, you're making cuts, you're making cuts, but you're like, well, I'm not really sniffing anything.
But when you come here and play as well as I did in '05 and kind of hang in there with some great players right behind you, it proved a lot to me that, hey, I'm right there.

Q. How big a deal is it -- as a breakthrough place, I'm sure it has some memories. If you were to finish the job this year, what would that mean?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it doesn't matter really where you win. A win is a win; you would love to win. But it being Byron's tournament, I think that would mean more to me than anything. It's just -- this is one of only two events that are named after somebody, right? So obviously winning here and Bay Hill would be awesome.
This place has always been kind of a special place for me because it is kind of where I broke through. And two, I've got a lot of family that comes here and watches, and I'm originally from Lubbock, Texas, and playing in Texas is always going to be nice for me, and this is a big event for me. It would be great.

Q. Also, back then, it seems like everything was very chaotic, wasn't it, things really spinning in your life at that time?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, there was a lot -- I think it was more dealing with the media about that stuff than anything. I kind of had my life in order. You know, I really wasn't having any problems, and I think once the media kind of got involved in that situation, it made it a little bit more difficult for me.
But, you know, it never really -- that stuff is long gone and it's been long gone for a long time. It's just -- you know, I never really even think about it. It really wasn't that big of a deal for me because I think my play showed it because if it was a big deal I don't think I would have been playing as well as I did in '05. So if that answers your question --

Q. I wasn't really referring to that. As I recall you guys had just had a baby or something.
SEAN O'HAIR: We had my first child, which was nothing but a blessing, and we just -- we had a great time taking her around. Right now it's a little more chaotic having two kids now, having a toddler and a baby.
But it was -- ever since I had my daughter I played better, so my wife was like, let's have more.

Q. Would you remind me of your father-in-law's last name?

Q. The little slump you went through, how hard was that? Was there a low point? What was the problem in the game?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I don't know if I could call it a slump. I mean, I definitely -- if I look at it on paper, I would call it a slump because obviously five missed cuts, I played like a dog on the West Coast.
But '06 I did the same thing. I don't know if it's just a matter of a brain fart on the West Coast or just not being ready because it's the beginning of the year or a slump. I really don't know what it is. But it's definitely something that I'm going to try and get my hands on and turn that around.
It stinks starting the way you do because, I mean, people start sitting there saying stuff about you and you actually start second-guessing yourself a little bit, and that's not always healthy.
You know, it would be nice to start off the year next year with a better start and just be a little more consistent.
I've been working harder than I've ever been, and you've just got to sit there and say, when you're going through a time like that, hey, I'm doing the right things and it's just going to come around. You see a lot of guys out here who have been out here for a long time go through stuff like that, and they always seem to pull through.
I think I've learned to fight through those times. I mean, I've played on the mini-Tours, I went through all three stages of Q-school and went to Q-school six times, so I know how to deal with stuff like that.

Q. How satisfying is it to you that the story now is about your play on the course and not so much about family stuff like it was?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, it's good. You want to be known for obviously who you are as a person and your game, those two things. You don't want to be known for other stuff.
You know, I think as far as my life, my life is in a great spot. I mean, I've got two beautiful kids that I love to death and I've got a beautiful wife who does nothing but support me. I've just got a great support system, and I just think that I'm very blessed and I'm very fortunate to be in the situation that I'm in.
STEWART MOORE: Sean, thanks for your time.

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