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March 11, 2008

Sean O'Hair


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Sean, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Congratulations on your victory last week at the PODS Championship. I know things have been pretty busy for you, because you kept your commitment to play in that Monday Pro-Am here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and I know they appreciated that. Just talk about the last couple of days and the feeling of winning again.
SEAN O'HAIR: Last couple days have just been kind of crazy, people coming out of the woodwork a little bit, and a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages and it's just great. And obviously to be back in the winner's circle, there's no better feeling in the world.
You know, it's the first time, kind of what I've told my friends, the first time you win, it's very, very special and something that you never forget. But you know, I was very naive thinking that this was going to happen to me every year, and obviously it didn't, and I think I've kind of learned what winning on the PGA TOUR really is and what it represents. This time I'm just so grateful, I'm so just satisfied about it, and I know that this week is a new week, and it's just such a great feeling. It's pretty hard to explain.

Q. Is winning the second one tougher than winning the first one?
SEAN O'HAIR: For me it was. When I won the John Deere, it just kind of came out of nowhere to be honest with you. I played pretty solid all week, and then I had a great round on Sunday. It just kind of fell in my lap. I really wasn't in the whole thick of things really until like the last two holes.
You know, I guess the last two years, you know, it's been just a constant struggle trying to win. I don't know if it's been -- if I've been forcing it or trying too hard or whatever, but I've been working really hard to it get to this point and obviously I haven't gotten to that point the last two years.
And it just was nice to, I guess, last week to kind of be in the mix a little bit on Sunday and step up to the tee and know that I'm going to play well, and I did, and that's such a -- like I said, it's such a satisfying feeling to, you know, sit there and say, well, this is what I've worked for and I'm going to go out and do it, and do it. It's just pretty cool to walk off that green and say I was the best player this week.
Like I said, I can't even explain how good that feels.

Q. Did you see that week coming at all? Your results over the year, you've been making cuts but not exactly in the hunt on Sunday, and boom, there you go.
SEAN O'HAIR: After I missed the cut at Honda, which was my second missed cut in a row, I just told myself: I feel like I'm going to win next week. (Laughing)
You know, I didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming at all. I had a talk with my coach after I missed the cut during the weekend of Honda and I just said, "look, you know, I said I'm working really hard but I don't feel like I'm working hard on the right things. I don't see -- I don't kind of see where I'm going." I said, "You know, I'd like for to you come out and for us to talk and kind of see what's going on and get back on track."
And so he came out, worked with me Tuesday through Friday, kind of worked on a few things. I'm the type of player that needs to focus on, you know, at least a feel or a swing thought, and it kind of helps me be more in the process and instead of kind of -- I can't play with just nothing in my brain.
And then I also had a very insightful talk with my father-in-law. You know, he's kind of a mentor to me, and I think whenever he has something to say, you know, you listen, and we talked for quite some time during that weekend.
You know, the whole extent of it was that, you know, you know what to do, you've just got to go and do it and believe that you can do it and forget about what people want you to be. Forget about trying to be somebody you're not. Just do it, do what Sean O'Hair does, and he was right.
And he said that, "You know, if you do that, then everything will come around and everything is going to be all right." So, everything's okay.

Q. You said the other day that after John Deere, you kind of expected the wins to flow in and then it took a couple of years. Is your perspective different now?
SEAN O'HAIR: It completely different now. I'm not saying I didn't appreciate winning. It was awesome winning and then going to the British Open and playing well and then end up getting Rookie of the Year, it just was a whirlwind in '05. But I think I really appreciate it now.
You know, it's like even yesterday I played the Pro-Am and I was looking at my schedule trying to get a feel for what I'm going to be doing now. And I just got a big grin on my face thinking I just can't believe this. A week ago, I wasn't in the Masters, and a week ago I'm thinking about playing Puerto Rico next week and now I'm in the World Golf Championships, and I think I'm like ranked 35th in the world now and it just is like, wow. This is what you work hard for, but there's nothing wrong appreciating it when it happens.
This isn't obviously the peak of where I want to end up. Obviously I want to achieve a lot more, but I definitely need to kind of enjoy it and I think I've enjoyed it and I'm ready to come into this week and hopefully have a good week again.

Q. If John Deere was kind of a breakthrough win for you, was this just a big relief?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think for me in a way it was a relief that it just happened, because I think when you work so hard for, I guess, '06, '07, and you feel like you're good enough to win and you put yourself in positions -- you put yourself in the position to win and you don't pull it off, you start to wonder, am I going to get back in the winner's circle and am I going to be able to do this again.
The last time I was home, you know, I was looking at videotape from '05 from the Byron Nelson where I got second and from the John Deere Classic, and I just was not so much looking at my swing, but looking at, you know, into my eyes, looking at my body language. I was trying to remember, what was I thinking over the shot. I was trying to figure out what Steve -- my father-in-law at the time was caddying for me, what Steve and I at the time were talking about and what got me through that week to do what I did.
You know, it's very tough to really push yourself and not do what you want to do. You know, last year was probably my most consistent year, but in a way it felt like a failure that I didn't win. I think for me, each year a goal of mine is to win at least once, so I definitely feel that it's a relief that my hard work has paid off and that I think I'm working on the right things and my mind in the right place.

Q. Would you say that you're a better player now than the Sean O'Hair in the summer of '05?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I think each year I've gotten better. '06 I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself, and I think that's why I had kind of an off year. And my goal last year was to just go out and play and get that back, and I obviously started terrible. I think this was the week that broke my five missed cuts in a row this time last year. I think I got like 14th here last year.
And then from then on, I think from Houston on, I played fairly well last year. But, you know, I don't know, I just think that this year, I didn't start out great. My first three cuts that I made, I think I finished like 49th twice and 50th the third time that I missed two cuts, and this kind of opens up the rest of the year for me and kind of just gets me to a point where I can just go out and play and hopefully be the player I know I can be.
But to answer your question, I think I am a better player. I think I'm a much better player experience-wise, and mentally I think I'm better. But I think that's what we all achieve is each year you try and get better and better, but sometimes the results just don't show that, and that's a funny thing about this game.

Q. What did you learn about Augusta National the one year you were there, the short time you were there?
SEAN O'HAIR: What did I learn? (Chuckling) That I need to learn those greens a little better. Those are brutal.
The thing I learned about Augusta National is just that you've got to really learn the golf course. I think each week, you're playing a different course and you play the same courses every year and you get to a point where it's like you only need one or two practice rounds and you kind of know what to expect. At Augusta, I just felt so overwhelmed when I got there. I didn't play before the week of, so my first practice round was Tuesday and I played with Tiger and Mark O'Meara. And so I wasn't -- to me, I needed a diaper, because just in case; it was pretty overwhelming. (Laughter).
So Wednesday, I can't even remember Wednesday. I just felt so overwhelmed playing the course and just the history with it, and I just didn't know what I was doing. And Augusta is all about putting the puzzles together, the pieces of the puzzle together. It's such target golf and it not like, all right, you hit the green and you're 15 feet from the hole. You know, sometimes you're lucky to 2-putt or 3-putt in some areas from 15 feet.
It's such a course-knowledge type of tournament. And so this year, you know, I'm really going to try and prepare and I'm going to try and go there early and play a little bit. But Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I'm really going to have my notes out and try and take as many mental errors -- you know, mental notes as possible, because I think that's what it's all about.

Q. Playing with Charles Coody this year?
SEAN O'HAIR: I don't know, we'll see. (Laughing).
The thing about Augusta, it's just that's what you dream of. It's like your schoolboy dream. That's your childhood dream.

Q. On that note, how much better equipped do you think you'll be able to handle it this time going there and maybe not needing the diaper?
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I think I kind of know what to expect now, you know, going in there mentally. I think that's what I was kind of getting at is that in '06, I kind of got there and I wasn't mentally prepared for it. I wasn't ready for the golf course mentally. I wasn't ready for the environment mentally. It's a whole other world. It's something that I've played in two U.S. Opens, I've played in three British Opens and I've played in three PGAs, and it's just different. It's completely different.
So I know what to expect now. I know how to prepare myself. I'm not saying that I'm going to go there and, you know, do all and know all, but I think I know how to handle myself better and hopefully that will, you know, produce better results.

Q. People say that realistically, only about a dozen or so guys have a chance to win there. Do you agree with that? Did you get a sense of that when you were there?
SEAN O'HAIR: From what I watched as a kid, I've always felt like Augusta was kind of a place where anybody could win. When I played there in '06, it felt like it was a U.S. Open. It just was, you know, the fairways were difficult. The greens obviously were difficult. It felt very long.
You know, obviously the rough wasn't terrible, but it just was a very demanding golf course, and from what I remember as a kid, you go there and you just tear it up and it all about putting. It's a putting contest, and I thought that was the cool thing about the tournament, you know, is just that it's anybody's game.
So I think it's a different tournament, but not in a negative way. I would agree with that. I think you know, there's maybe a handful of guys that could probably win there.

Q. Did you have Zach in your pool last year?
SEAN O'HAIR: I did not have Zach in my pool. But I've played a lot of golf with Zach, and it was not a surprise to me that he won. He's a phenomenal putter and he's got an incredible wedge game. The way he played it, I think kind of proves that it isn't a tournament for a handful of guys, because obviously he's not a long hitter, and he played it differently than everybody else did with laying it up on the par 5s and everything.
You know, I'm going to try and talk to him as much as possible and try to get a few tidbits.

Q. You asked for a picture with Arnold yesterday I heard out at 15. Can you just talk about a lot of the young guys might not understand what he's meant to the game. Evidently you do.
SEAN O'HAIR: Your question was --

Q. Just a little about Arnold Palmer, why you asked for his picture.
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I mean, he's the man. He's the ambassador of the game. I think there's been so many grates. You can name Hogan, Snead, Player, Nicklaus, all those guys, they are just -- obviously they are the godfathers of the game.
I think Mr. Palmer is, you know, he brought this sport to what it is, you know, with media, with the popularity of it, with what he achieved. He was the man's man. I mean, basically he was like Superman in golf. I kind of look at him like that.
When I talk to him yesterday, I couldn't tell you one thing he said. I can't. (Laughter) I couldn't tell you one thing he said. But I just was in such awe of just his presence. And you look into his eyes and it's just like, I don't know, it's just he's still got it in his eyes. You just think of what he's experienced and how cool it would be to experience the things that he's done, and some of the things that he has achieved, it's amazing.
So I just kind of wanted a picture so I could show my grand kids one day.

Q. Can you talk about how are the greens out there?
SEAN O'HAIR: The greens are good. I was very surprised, from what I heard. I didn't see what they were like a few weeks ago. You know, I was expecting putting on dirt this week and I felt like the greens rolled great yesterday in the Pro-Am. And they were at a pretty decent speed.
So, you know, I don't think they are -- they are not perfect, but I don't think there's anything wrong with them at all.

Q. Considering that Arnie is Superman, how would you characterize Tiger now, the way he's playing?
SEAN O'HAIR: The Messiah? I don't know.
Tiger, I've been very fortunate to get to know Tiger a little bit, and I think the thing with Tiger is that he's the greatest that the sport has ever seen, and obviously he has not outdone Mr. Nicklaus yet, but I think he will, and I think he will very soon.
I think it's cool to play in the same era as Tiger. And I think, you know, there's a lot for a player such as myself to learn from him, but, you know, he's just -- Tiger's Tiger. I mean, what can you say. Any situation you put him in, he seems to pull it out, and I think he's one of the greatest athletes of all time. It's just, what can I say.
You know, hopefully I look forward to kicking him in the can one of these days. It might be when he's 80 years old, but I look forward to competing with him and learning more from him and I think he's just great for the game. I think that's -- you know, he's like the Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and all of those guys all in one guy, and I think that's the cool thing about Tiger.

Q. In what setting have you gotten to know Tiger?
SEAN O'HAIR: I've played with him a few times and we text every now and then. You know, I think that's one of the -- you know, he's a great player, and he's the best, and he's probably the best that there will ever be and obviously that's very impressive. But I think the thing that impresses me more is he's a great guy, and he doesn't have to be, and that's impressive to me.
He takes the time to talk to a guy like me who is really a nobody and helps me out whenever I ask or whenever I need it. You know, he's the first person to answer any of the questions that I've got, and I think he's a class act. That's what impresses me more about somebody out here that dominates as much as he does, and is a quality guy.

Q. Did he text you after you won?

Q. And?
SEAN O'HAIR: He just said, "Good job," and he was happy for me, and I texted him back. Obviously that meant a lot.

Q. Along the congratulations theme, one of the unique parts about game is about how written correspondence has come done through the years, past champions write letters of congratulations. Have you ever gotten hand-written notes from anyone?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think one of the coolest things that's happened to me as far as that's concerned is I got a letter from Curtis Strange last year after Sawgrass, TPC. You know, he wrote a very nice letter and I emailed him back, and we just kind of emailed a couple times. It was just very cool what he said, and just that somebody in that situation would do that.
I actually had a few other guys, commentators, write me as well, but Curtis Strange was pretty cool, just the fact, two U.S. Open wins and the great player that he was and still is, that was pretty neat.

Q. They made reference in the broadcast and you maybe talked about this last weekend, did you build a studio at your house in Pennsylvania?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, last year, that was a big project that we put on the house last year, I think it was last winter. We put a big addition on the side of the house and put a big net and some cameras and computer and stuff like that in there so I can go in there and practice and work on my swing and stuff. It's better than sitting on the couch and watching football -- well, it's not better. It's just better for your game. I would much rather be on the couch watching football.

Q. Can you talk about the change in the putters?
SEAN O'HAIR: I changed to the Spider in Hawaii, and I've always struggled with my putting, especially on the West Coast. And not saying that my putting stats are great, but when I went -- basically my stats are a lot better this year than they have ever been. And I don't think I've ever -- you know, I really do attribute that to more of the putter. I've been working hard with Rotella a lot on the mental side, but putter is pretty amazing. You saw the win with J.B. Holmes at the FBR. He attributed his win to great putting.
That's just been a great part of my game, a nice addition to my game, and just the way it feels, the way it aligns. I think it brings out so much more of my game and has taken my putting to another level.
The guys in the van have worked with me pretty hard on my equipment, and they are coming out with some pretty cool stuff.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thanks, Sean.

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