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June 24, 2007

Hunter Mahan


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome 2007 Travelers Championship winner, Hunter Mahan. The win moves you up to 19th in the FedExCup. Some opening comments about how you're feeling, and I know you're probably pretty tired, as well as pretty excited.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I got kind of adrenaline running through me right now with a little bit of shock, just a little bit of everything right now for sure.

Q. Can you top this playoff?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't know, man. It was crazy out there. I played really well all day. And Jay was a fighter. He fought the whole day. A couple of times I thought I was going to build up a little bit of a lead and he just made some great shots, made some big putts. It was tough. I mean, it was so tough.

Q. He gave you credit; he said you really held your composure and you only made one bad shot on 17.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, 17 is a rough hole. You've just got to -- it's just tough. Off the tee I made one of my best swings of the day. Wind just didn't move it right, and you've got to play it safe there. And maybe just took too much club, I don't know. I made a great swing, about the same shot I had yesterday; it went a little further obviously. I was probably amped up a little bit. I made a ton of good golf swings today, so I was really happy that held up.

Q. Walk us through both of your approach shots on 18, backing off, changing clubs.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, the 72nd hole there, I had 147 and my, caddie John, liked the 9 and we were both thinking that's one that's going to be close. We didn't really want to lay-up an 8, and that wind, it was just everywhere. It was kind of coming into you a little bit sometimes, and then kind of left-to-right. And when I backed off and put the club in the bag and started over, the wind went directly where we wanted it and I pulled the trigger and just went. I had the 9 the whole time -- actually put it in the bag and grabbed the 8 and then started fresh, and then pulled the 9 and the wind went where we wanted it to go and I pulled the trigger.

Q. What was the distance on the second?
HUNTER MAHAN: I was 137. We were ten yards closer.

Q. Did you think you would get to this point quicker than you have?
HUNTER MAHAN: Not really. After you play out here for a little bit, you realize this is hard. Being a professional golfer, it's not easy to win out here. There's a lot of great players that haven't won yet. You definitely think you're good enough to win. I thought I was. But you just never know what's going to happen. You're going to need to play great and you're going to need a little bit of luck, too. It's not easy.

Q. What's going through your mind as you were coming down the back nine and it pretty much developed into a two-player race between and you Jay?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it was crazy. I'm glad that me and Jay were the guys battling to win and there really wasn't too much around us. That was kind of nice. We didn't have to worry about anybody else.
Yeah, I played the first few holes on the back just awesome, I played them perfect. Couldn't ask to hit a lot of better shots. But that's golf. You have to keep battling. It's 18 holes and you have to keep working and keep working. It's not over until it's over. Ask Jay; he played unbelievable. He didn't give up for one second. He made some huge putts, a couple great up-and-downs. So, I mean, PGA TOUR, no one is going to give you anything.

Q. Talk about your thought process after he sticks it in there on the playoff hole and you step up and hit it to about two feet.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, when he hit that shot and it came off the club pace and it was in the air, I just saw that shot about 20 minutes ago; it was the exact same. I was like, wow, that's awesome. He just must like that hole I guess.
We had a good yardage and just went with it. I went right at it. I mean, there's no reason not to. I figured he was going to make birdie. He just kind of had that putt.
So was just going to be aggressive with it and luckily made a great swing.

Q. Your putt on 18, No. 72?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I saw his, I was so fortunate to be right in his line and I saw it broke a lot. So we kind of went around, and I definitely played a little bit more break than it kind of looks like because when you're up it kind of goes pretty hard. It must have been like two holes out or something like that.

Q. Did you use the same line as him? It looked like you were off just a tad.
HUNTER MAHAN: We were -- I was very, very close. I mean, I had to move my mark obviously. I definitely got a nice -- I didn't get a great look at it from behind him but I did see that he under read it. So I did see that it was going to break just a little bit more than it looks.

Q. He said he thought he should have gotten relief when his ball was in the drain on 1, how similar was it to your situation on 10 and what was your view?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I thought he was definitely going to get a drop there. You could see on the drain it was kind of dry up top. So I thought that was weird.
10, I assumed it was pretty close to the same thing, I guess I was closer to the seam than he was. But we had two different officials, so sometimes two officials see things differently. Luckily it wasn't, you know -- it's not a huge thing that turned anything around. It was just kind of a weird ruling. That happens all the time. If you don't like a ruling from 10ficial, you can always call another one and he might give you a different opinion. Luckily it wasn't a big ruling.

Q. Who was the official that gave you the ruling on 10?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't think it was Mark Russell that came -- I can't think of his name.

Q. (No microphone).
HUNTER MAHAN: We played once I think -- a couple of times before.

Q. Four and a half hours together, not a whole lot of chitchat; do you feel like you get to know somebody?
HUNTER MAHAN: Not really. Final round of a tournament, both trying to win, there's a lot at stake, you're really not -- probably know a little bit more about him. We're trying to win a golf tournament, so trying to get to know him is not really top of my list.
But he's a guy that he's kind of playing Nationwide and got the PGA TOUR sponsor's invite, played unbelievable. It's difficult to really meet anybody.

Q. Can you talk about the moment on 18, it looked like maybe he stopped and waited for you to come up and maybe give you a little handshake when you played the 72nd hole?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, he just, you know, hit a good shot and we both stiffed it in there when we had to. It was kind of a neat moment for us, for two guys trying to win an event. We both really just hit some great shots when we had to. Just really showed up when we had to and you know, I think we both played the way we wanted to to win the tournament. We both went out there to try to win it and nobody really gave us anything. It's just two competitors being very appreciative of one another and the effort that each person was putting into it.

Q. You mentioned on the putting green how this tournament gave you your start. What does it mean winning this tournament and what has this tournament meant to you over the years?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, playing here since I was a kid, PGA TOUR event, it means a lot. It's an incredible place, really fun, great golf course. It's just pretty neat to look back and go, boy, you know, I've played here ten years ago and a lot's happened since then, so it's quite amazing.

Q. Lots of cool things about winning here: Big check, trip to Kapalua next year; what's the biggest perk about winning this?
HUNTER MAHAN: Just you know the fact that -- the fact that I know I won out here means a lot. I mean, it's just knowing that you can win and actually winning is two different things. And to win it the way I did is just amazing to me. To have to birdie in a playoff especially after he hit that shot in there is mind-boggling.
To play Augusta, I played it as an amateur, it's such an unbelievable place. It's incredible. If you've never gone, you should go. It's just such an incredible place, so much history there. It's a major where you go there every year and boom, there it is, you see all of these shots, you can go put in tapes and see the shots these guys hit and it just awesome. Actually, I was here in '99, not '97. I don't know why I keep saying '97 but I was here in '99.

Q. How do your goals change after this win?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I'm trying to get into the FedExCup, get in the race, try to get in that somehow, try to get in the Top-30 and finish the season out strong. You just keep working, though. This isn't the end of the road. This is just another step to keep on going and to know, you know what, this is my recipe for success and I've just got to keep doing it.

Q. What is it like to deal mentally on a day where the other guy is the sentimental favorite; can you just talk about that?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, he went to school around here so it makes sense people are going to cheer for him. Not going to change my view of how I'm going to play or anything like that.
People are great, though. They cheer hard for everybody. It's only natural they cheer hard for guys that they kind of, you know, recognize and know. But it's exciting. I think it makes the tournament even better, though, when that happens. There's an emotional connection between kind of the player and the fans and stuff and it energizes; on every shot, it makes it even better and better.

Q. Can you talk about how your play here the last couple of years set you up for today and gave you confidence?
HUNTER MAHAN: For sure. I've had success so definitely want to carry that onto this week. Definitely looking forward to playing here. I felt like my game was coming around, was getting better and better. And you know, after that 62, I felt like it almost came out of nowhere. I really wasn't expecting to play that good. I knew I felt like, you know, I can play good here and I know I can win. So very happy with that.

Q. You had missed a lot of cuts; is there anything in particular you hit, any swing changes?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it was just all in my head. My psychologist, Neal Smith, caddied for me at the Open qualifier in Dallas and I shot 73 the first round and was just -- not giving up, but just not thinking positive about the shots I'm hitting and waiting for bad things to happen. He was disgusted with the way I was acting out there and was like, just leave if you're going to play like this, and he was 100% right. It was nice for someone to say that to me since I needed to tell myself that. And turned around and shot 63 and qualified and the rest is history and I've played good ever since. That was definitely a stepping stone for this week for sure.
THE MODERATOR: If you can just run through your card real quick if you don't mind.
HUNTER MAHAN: Birdied hole No. 3 today. I just had an L-wedge in there and hit it probably 10, 12 feet uphill, left-to-right, knocked it in there. Birdied 6. Hit two good shots right in front of the green just 2-putted pretty much from there. Birdied 9. Hit a wedge to about -- it was pretty close, I guess, four or five feet. 12, hit L-wedge from 90 yards. Hit it just a couple of feet there.

Q. Did you birdie that all four days?

Q. Did you?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't know. (Laughter).
Yeah, birdied it every day, there you go.
Birdied 13. Good drive, not a great second but left it in a good spot, long putt. It was just right off the edge there about 80 feet. Tough putt, big swinging thing and made a nice second putt there from about six feet there.
Then 18, made it from about 17.
THE MODERATOR: Hunter Mahan, congratulations on a great day.

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