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October 11, 2007

Hunter Mahan


GORDON SIMPSON: Hunter, very well played and not a bad scalp for your first match in the HSBC Match Play, Justin Rose. You're getting used to this match play, aren't you.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, back-to-back match play tournaments. It was nice to play Presidents Cup and then play here for sure.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you enjoy the cut and thrust of head-to-head golf like that?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's fun, it's neat to just look at your opponent. You know that you have to beat him. It's just neat to know that what you have to do is right in front of you and there's a little bit more strategy involved a little bit. It's a lot of fun.
GORDON SIMPSON: What was the difference today that separated Justin from you?
HUNTER MAHAN: He didn't make his short putts today. He didn't make any putts. He missed a handful of putts inside five feet. If he had made those the match would have been much closer or he could have been ahead with a couple holes to go.

Q. Is this your first time playing match play since the U.S. Amateur?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, first as a pro, yeah. It's been a while.

Q. Inaudible.
HUNTER MAHAN: It's just nice that I have one round or in this case two rounds, but pretty much the 18 holes, it's the guy right in front of you. It's who you're playing against, just kind of the head on head, mano-a-mano, the guy you're playing against and you just have to beat him. You don't have to beat anybody he is, just him. You just have to shoot one shot better than him or one hole better than him and you can have a bad hole and then throw it away and go to the next shot.

Q. Playing the home favourite in Justin, did the crowd give you a good reception?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, you know, obviously playing Justin Rose in England right here, he's definitely a fan favourite for sure. And they should be proud of him and they should be cheering him. He's a great player. He's going to win like a bunch of majors. It was pretty neat to have the crowd follow us like they did and support him and me both.

Q. What did you know of Wentworth?
HUNTER MAHAN: Just saw it on TV a little bit. Pretty much saw a little bit of it last year and didn't know much about it.

Q. When did you last play in England?
HUNTER MAHAN: It was just the British Open at Liverpool. That's pretty much it, the only thing in England I've played in.
GORDON SIMPSON: Is it the plan then to maybe start traveling a little bit more in the future.
HUNTER MAHAN: We'll have to see. I do like coming over here and playing. The courses are always awesome. But, I don't know, we play so much in the States now, with all of the WGC events and stuff like that, it's kind of hard to try to go around after the year. But I do enjoy travelling and playing abroad.

Q. What's the difference this year?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, I've just kind of allowed myself to go out there and play well. I was getting in my own way for the first part of the year. Just kind of a bad attitude and negative, and I just, you know, had to stop it and just had to be positive and just tried to think I'm going to hit good shots and trust my abilities and just go out there and just play golf and not get in my own way.
It's very simple but complicated, too. Once I started to do it, figure it out, I started to realise what I had to do to play well and that's taken me a long time to figure out what I had to do to play well.
Once I've figured that out, it's much easier to go out and play golf because I knew exactly what I needed to do to hit good shots and put a good round together. If I just feel like it's going the wrong way, I can kind of stop it and turn it around.

Q. Are you comfortable with the reputation of being one of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I feel like it's been a strength. My driving has been -- I think I was second on Tour this year in driving and greens in regulation was pretty good, getting better. Yeah, especially it's great in match play to be a good ball-striker, put the ball in play and put it on the greens and put pressure on your opponent. It works out very well.

Q. What's your schedule after this?
HUNTER MAHAN: Nothing for a while. Going to New Zealand in December. But this is my 30th or 31st event this year, so kind of done with golf after this week.

Q. Did Jack Nicklaus phone you to say you were a wild card?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes, he called me Sunday night of the PGA. I played with him at the 2003 Masters and got to play 36 holes with him, that was amazing. I knew he was calling, but to get the phone call from him and to talk with him a little bit and to spend the whole week with him was just awesome. Just an amazing, amazing experience, and something I'll always treasure and remember.

Q. What did you know of him?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, he's a little older, I didn't get to see him play too much but just being around him you get to see what a great player and great guy he is. He's the best golfer ever but he just didn't walk around like he's done anything important. He's just kind of -- you know, he's just been such a great ambassador for the game for so long. He's just an amazing, amazing guy.

Q. (About being chosen for President Cup team).
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's a great honour for sure. Lucas and I were extremely proud and honoured to have been picked and to play for him and to win the Presidents Cup for him, it was awesome. We were very proud that we were able to do that and we know he was proud of us for doing that.

Q. Do you think now that you've got to that stage that you're up there --
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, to be here is pretty exciting to see all of the great players here and to know that -- I feel like it's still a little -- almost surprising, and to be here myself, it wasn't a short time ago that I was playing and struggling and stuff like that.
It's nice to be here and to be in the company of great players, to play well in majors. It's pretty neat. It's like a dream come true. I always dreamed of being a professional golfer and being as good as I can at it, and to be here, it's pretty neat.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Hunter, let's see if the dream continues tomorrow. Good luck.

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