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September 4, 2008

Hunter Mahan


Q. Thank you for joining us here in a rain-soaked first round of the BMW Championship. Maybe just some opening comments. Obviously a wash today but maybe what you expect here this week in St. Louis.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's a solid course. I haven't been here in -- the TOUR hasn't been here in a long time, so I think everyone is pretty excited about being here. It's obviously a great golf course. I think everyone is excited to be here. Obviously the hurricane is affecting everybody, so it's affecting us right now. Luckily it's a short field so we can get it all in this week hopefully. I think everyone is excited to be here.
The Western Golf Association runs a great event, and I think all the players are excited to see this golf course.

Q. What do you like about the playoff system the way it is now, and do you think there could be any tweaks?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, now it's -- I had no idea that it was going to be so severe in the movement from playing good to playing bad. I mean, if you don't play well, you know, you've got Padraig Harrington, you fall like a rock no matter how good your year has been.
It's pretty neat that starting it there was -- literally everybody in the field had a chance to win it at the end, which is good. But there's also some negative in the fact that someone could get hot for a couple weeks and be in the TOUR Championship, and the TOUR Championship will get you into the Masters, even though you haven't really maybe played well enough to be in the Masters, I don't know. So I think it's a little extreme. But it does give everybody a chance to win, which is pretty neat, because the prize is pretty -- the prize is so big that the fact that pretty much everybody who stepped on the tee a couple weeks ago had a chance to win it, it's pretty interesting.

Q. How did you pass the time this morning?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, luckily it wasn't too much time. I mean, I woke up, saw it was absolutely pouring down rain, figured we were going to be delayed, heard we were. So I was still running, figured I ought to come out to the course just to be safe, just to see if we were going to play or not. I looked at the course. Luckily I've heard the drainage is exceptional here, and it looks pretty good. For the amount of rain we've had, for most courses it would have been over the first couple hours of rain. The zoysia fairways are strong -- it's a strong grass. It can take just about anything.
I thought we might be able to play, but obviously you can hear the rain falling right now. I don't think it has any intentions of stopping for a long time. But there's only 70 guys in the field, so I don't think playing 36 one day is going to be that big a deal.

Q. Have you talked to any of your Ryder Cup teammates about what the pressure is like, the actual playing of the event? Have you got a feel for what you're in store for, and do you think that you can prepare yourself for that or just have to wait until you see what it's like?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I don't think you can prepare yourself for something like that. I just think you have to have -- me personally, I'm just going to try to have the right attitude about it. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to that pressure and the situations that we can have. I think it's great because it's just one event. It's just three days. It's just you against the two guys or the one guy you've got in front of you, and I think that's so neat. You don't have to worry about the field, you don't have to worry about each hole and playing one shot at a time. I mean, you can just play one hole at a time and just play aggressively and just have fun at it.
I think being home, being the underdog like we are, I think we're all really going to embrace that and really be excited to play. I think we're going to have guys who want to win, and we're going to try to go out there and win. I haven't really talked to anybody about it. I think it's -- I mean, I was lucky enough to be there in '99 on Friday, and you could just feel it in the air. It was one of the more amazing things I've ever seen, just the intensity, the excitement with every shot.
But it's great. You don't -- I mean, it only happens every two years, so it's going to be exciting. I think the fans are going to be crazy in Kentucky. I have an idea what to expect, but it's hard to put it into words.

Q. You were at the '99 as a Ryder Cup spectator?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, just as a spectator. They had the Junior Ryder Cup a couple days beforehand, and they took all the kids and stuff, we all went there on Friday and watched it.

Q. Yeah, I just wanted to ask you about playing 36 holes, which looks like a good possibility. What are the pluses and minuses of that? Do the players care one way or the other about that? And does it matter whether you would do it on Friday or Saturday or Sunday?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, I don't think it really matters. Preferably on Saturday because they'll be twosomes, so you can kind of zip around the course a little faster. It comes with the job. I mean, it's part of golf is weather, and sometimes it hurts kind of the pace of play and everything. We'll all deal with it. It's not going to be a big deal playing 36. This course is pretty simple to walk. It's not really hilly or anything like that. It's a good course. I mean, it'll be easy to get around in a good amount of time. If you get playing well, it could really help you out because you just keep going and keep going and keep making birdies.
I don't think it's a plus or minus, but if you definitely get on the right momentum, you can definitely ride it for a long time.

Q. Do you have any thoughts about how it'll change the course, all this weather?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I mean, there's a couple holes that are really long, and it's just going to make them longer, but it is going to make the greens softer. The greens are big and severe, so you can be more aggressive with the second shots and just fire away at the pins because you know the ball is going to stop.

Q. On the FedEx thing, it went from pretty much being a season-long race last year to being a four-lap track meet, I guess, this year. Do you have a preference on that? Should they go more down the middle? I guess it is more closely akin to a pure playoff scenario now where everybody kind of starts somewhat on even ground for the four events and takes off running. I'm wondering what your thoughts are there.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I've heard a few guys say that it is a little bit more like playoffs because if you don't play well you get out. But also in the playoffs, you start out with usually 12 teams and they cut it to eight. So if you want to have this kind of system, well, you can't have 144 guys starting. You've got to cut it to 70 right off the getgo. You just can't have -- they don't let every team in the playoffs, they cut it down pretty good.
So I understand that if you don't play well in the playoffs, you get kicked out. But I think it would be a real shame if Padraig Harrington, the guys wins two majors and isn't in the TOUR Championship. It kind of defeats the purpose of having the TOUR Championship, I think, because the TOUR Championship was the end-of-the-year thing, and I've talked to a few guys, and it means a lot to be in there, it really does. You've worked hard all year long and you're recognized as one of the Top 30 players on the PGA TOUR that year, and that's saying something.
It seems a little skewed this year the way it is because you play well -- I mean, I haven't played great in the playoffs and I've moved up 11 spots. I think I'm like 34th on the Money List. So it's worked out for me, but I don't think that means -- I don't necessarily think that it's totally right. But it is neat, the fact that everybody has a chance to win it. I mean, the way Vijay is playing, it's -- he's making it hard on everybody. But everybody had a chance to win at the start, which is pretty neat, which is good. But I think it could be -- if you play well during the year you should be a little bit more rewarded, and it could kind of backfire.
I mean, I remember reading something about Phil. He said, if it's going to be like this we don't have to play much during the year, we can just get ready for the four events, which is very true. You just can play your -- kind of play your 12 events going in and then play the last three, and that's not going to help any other tournaments. I don't know, like anything, it's tough. It's just never a perfect system. I think you've just got to keep chipping away at it and try to find the best one for everybody.

Q. How are you expecting the pressure of the Ryder Cup to compare with the Presidents Cup?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think it's -- I mean, The Presidents Cup was amazing. It was great. I had a lot of fun there. But I think, yeah, I think it's pretty obvious already that the Ryder Cup is just amped up a little bit more. There's just so much more history. It's a little bit more of a rivalry now since they've whooped us the last few years. You just watch the reactions when it's over. Guys are chugging champagne and they're spraying everybody and you can see it in their faces how much it meant to them to win. You can just see it. You can just see that it means so much more to win the Ryder Cup, and it's just going to be a great experience.

Q. How were your nerves on the first tee at the Presidents Cup?
HUNTER MAHAN: They were pretty good. They were pretty good. I mean, it was interesting just being the first guy off starting the whole thing off. But it was great. I mean, I had a great partner in Stricker. I definitely learned a lot from that experience, which is really going to help me in the Ryder Cup, so I'm looking forward to taking on the lessons that I kind of learned from that and taking it to the Ryder Cup.

Q. And what were those lessons?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, just -- it's still golf, it's still trying -- you're still trying to do the same things, not to put pressure on myself on every shot thinking that I have to hit this one good. You've just got to go out there and play and play your best and know that the guy you're playing with and all your teammates are supporting you.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much.

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