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June 18, 2008

Hunter Mahan


CHRIS REIMER: All right. Welcome Hunter Mahan. Hunter, thanks for joining us for a couple minutes. Why don't you get us started by talking about your feelings coming back to a place where I'm sure you have good vibes.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. Obviously had some success in the last few years. I'm excited to be back here. It's kind of a new beginning for the tournament with Travelers coming in last year and really taking this tournament up a notch and kind of taking it back to early days of this tournament where there were so many big fields, great fields and big crowds. And I think they're on that path again, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
CHRIS REIMER: How would you assess your year so far? You've got two Top 10s, good performance last week.
HUNTER MAHAN: It's been all right. I feel good about my game. I just haven't been able to break through as much as I'd like, but the game's been pretty good. I'm excited about where it is and where it's going.
CHRIS REIMER: Okay. Questions?

Q. Hunter, when you came onto the course for the first time since you left it last year, what went through your head?
HUNTER MAHAN: Just a nice place to be. It just feels like I've -- it seems like it's such a short while ago I was here. It doesn't feel like a year. I feel like I just left here; and just good memories, good feelings.
You know, you come back to a place like this, confidence kind of just goes into it all of a sudden and you feel great about playing this week and your chances, and seeing the new range and everything, I think it looks amazing, and it's exciting to see this event grow.

Q. What is your feeling, Hunter, of being the defending champ? Is it more of the pressure of defending or the confidence of having won here before?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, I think I'll have a better understanding of that like on Thursday when I tee up and I start to be in the competition, start to play. Right now I'm just excited to be in a place that I've had success, and excited to play a golf course that I like a lot and to be in a place I like, to be around great people like Jay Fishman and Andy Bessette who really run a great event.

Q. Talk a little bit about this year's field. Obviously the week after the U.S. Open, a lot of players decided to take this week off, and the tournament's done a lot to try to get people here this week.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. It's rough, with the major this year being on the West Coast. That's rare, but they did a great job of trying to get players here, getting a plane to come out and pick up the players and take them here, which is huge. That's just a nice perk that they did, makes it so easy on us to just hop on a plane and come here, and have our cars right there at the airport makes everything so much easier, and you know, but I think it's still going to be a great field and a lot of good players.

Q. Hunter, can you define a little bit more the confidence that you have? You mentioned confidence when you come in here. Is it confidence on the green? Can you define that a little bit more for us?
HUNTER MAHAN: Pretty much just the layout of the course just kind of fits my eye. Great thing about here is it has a great finish, and you can make birdies and bogeys pretty fast, so it's an exciting course to play. It's fun. You know, you can really play the course different ways, and it just suits my eye. I just enjoy playing it. I just enjoy the crowds that come out here and just the whole feeling of it and the fact that you're really never out of this tournament until it's over.

Q. Your final round last year, where does that rank for you? I mean obviously you won, but as far as ball striking and putting, because it seemed like every shot you hit was right there.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. It was great. I felt good all week. Felt like I was ready to win on Sunday, felt like I was prepared. Felt like I was -- just everything, I felt great about what I was doing, and I hit it great, I put the ball right where I needed to put the ball. I felt like I was in control of the tournament most of the day, and just lost a little bit late, but I didn't feel like I hit bad shots. I just kind of hit it in the wrong spot.
But felt great the whole day, felt pretty -- going into 18, even though I was one back, I still felt like I had a good chance to win and I was able to hit a couple good shots in 18 in the playoff.

Q. Do you replay the sequence of you and Jay a lot last year?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, after I won I did. I haven't recently. I was able to watch it. A couple of my friends taped it, watched it over again, and it was pretty neat to kind of have a different perspective of it and watch it kind of from the outside looking in. It was pretty neat.
It was much cooler to look out from kind of an audience point of view. It was just so exciting. Jay hit some great shots in there, and I had to come on top of him and hit some good shots, so it was just an incredible finish to be a part of.

Q. You hadn't done too much last year until the Open, played pretty good in the Open and then won here. Are you hoping, I mean this year has been kind of, what would you say, so-so and then last week at the Open you played really well. Are you hoping it's a carryover?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. I felt like this year my game's been pretty good at some good spots. I just haven't been able to finish, or just had a couple little things that have kind of hurt me a little bit, but I feel like my game is a lot better than last year and hopefully definitely get on a run like I did last year. And I was excited how I played last week and looking forward to this week.

Q. How is your game better from last year to this year?
HUNTER MAHAN: I feel like I have a better understanding of it. I feel like I hit a few more shots. I think my ball striking is still better than it was last year, and I think my short game is better; and if I putt as well as I did last year, I think I'm going to have a good chance to win again.

Q. Can you describe the scene on the charter plane coming over Monday? The playoff was on, and what was it like being on that plane?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. We were extremely lucky to have a plane with Directv on it, so we actually got to watch the playoff and stuff. It was pretty neat. I was pretty fried, pretty tired. I think most everybody was.
After you play an Open, it beats you up a little bit, but able to kind of watch the tournament. It was interesting, I was curious to see how Tiger's knee was and how he was going to play, how Rocco was going to play, and it was an unbelievable 19 holes those guys played.

Q. Was there a lot of rooting going on?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. I would say it was mostly for Rocco. I think people expected Tiger to just kind of blow him out early, and Rocco just played great. He just played so steady and just kept coming and kept coming, and Tiger had some loose shots and Rocco was able to take advantage of that. And it was just, you know, we actually didn't -- when we landed, I think they were on 16 or 17, so we got off the plane and actually sat in the terminal and watched the finish. But it was pretty neat to see how everything went down.

Q. Could you just describe the changes to the range as well and what it was like last year versus this year and why that's important to the players?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. They did a great job. Obviously the range before was quite small and you couldn't even fit all the players on it. Pretty short little small short game facility right there, and they just took it up a notch. They had a lot of land they could use, and they used all of it. The range is massive. You can fit by two fields the players on it. Have a nice little short game area.
Obviously it's going to take a little time to mature and really see its full growth, but it's great. It makes it so much nicer to come to an event that has a nice practice facility where the guys can work on their games a little bit and don't have to wait for spots, can just come out and pretty much hit wherever you want, hit into different winds, hit in different angles of pins and make it a real nice experience for the couple hours you are out there, since you are out on the course so much and this is our living that, you know, you want to give the players the best opportunity to play golf and enjoy your event.
CHRIS REIMER: Thanks, Hunter. Good luck this week.

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