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December 18, 2008

Hunter Mahan


Q. Let me ask you, what is the significance of this tournament, or is it kind of a reward for the end of the year? Is it a way to show respect for Tiger, a way to wind up the end of the year? What's it all about?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's a special event for a special cause. I can kind of see where my game is at, see where I want to go with it and try and jump start and get ready for next year.

Q. What about the dough?
HUNTER MAHAN: That helps, too (laughter). That's kind of a reward; that doesn't hurt.

Q. What about the aspect of showing respect for Tiger?
HUNTER MAHAN: Oh, for sure. An incredible athlete who's doing incredible things for kids, for charity, and to be a part of that this week and to help out in any way I can is great. We got to see video last night of the kids and how much he's helping them, so to show support for those kids.

Q. What did the Ryder Cup do for you as you go forward in your career? What does that one week do for you?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, I think it just gave me confidence in myself that I'm a good player, I deserve to be out here, and that -- you know, I just feel like I'm a part of this TOUR and a part of -- I'm trying to be an elite player, just trying to get myself better every day, and to be a part of that team and to do what we did was just awesome.

Q. How do you retrieve that? How do you do it again, try to top it? Seriously, there's got to be some Ryder Cup hangover because it was such a great moment.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, after that I think you were on a high, just emotions, and from going out to the golf course every day and people chanting your name and chanting U-S-A, it's a high. After that every tournament is a little bit of a lull, but it's just a special event. So get back in the grind now and get back and try to make the team again. It starts all over again.

Q. You won a tournament last year. You probably got more recognition this year for one interview and one putt. Do you agree?
HUNTER MAHAN: For sure, yeah.

Q. Is that okay with you?
HUNTER MAHAN: Half of that is good. Yeah, I mean, those are special moments, a Ryder Cup moment like that. Playing the way I did, I was really proud of myself and excited about everything that happened.

Q. Can you start peeking ahead two years already?
HUNTER MAHAN: Heck no. I've got a lot of work to do. We've got The Presidents Cup this year and try to get ready for four majors. There's a lot to do.

Q. You said that Tiger's absence the last six months of the year kind of turned the stage over for other people to take advantage in any number of ways. In what way did you?
HUNTER MAHAN: I'm trying to knock the rust off my game. I didn't think I was going to have to knock the rust off thinking. I tried to worry about myself. I guess I didn't try to worry about Tiger.
I think for me he's -- just being him, being around, seeing the way he plays has helped me. His absence hasn't really affected me in a negative or positive way. I've still got to keep working and trying to get better.

Q. Who took advantage of his absence the most?
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably Padraig during the majors. Any tournament that anyone won I think took advantage of it. He can win every week. When he's not there you've got to try and win.

Q. Will you start at Sony?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, Phoenix. Just practice and try to get ready.

Q. Are you ready for this event?
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably not like a normal event, but I've given myself time to relax. I feel fresh, and I'm excited to play for sure.

Q. What are you going to do in January?
HUNTER MAHAN: Just practice. I'll probably go to Orlando somewhere and work on the game, get ready for the rest of the season. It's a long year and I don't want to overwork myself because I'm going to play five in a row at the beginning. I'm going to play Phoenix, San Diego, LA, Pebble Beach, so I need to get ready for the year.

Q. What's the appeal of Pebble to you?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't know, I just like it. I just like it up there. I just like Pebble. I mean, it is a tough week. I just like it up there. It's fun, a couple fun golf courses to play.

Q. Do you know who you're playing with yet?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think I'm playing with Finchem and the head of the tournament. Oh, Spangler, Paul Spangler.

Q. You're playing golf with Finchem?

Q. Scouting report on his game?
HUNTER MAHAN: I'm not saying anything.

Q. When you play Pebble and you're playing the links course, do you ever look at the grounds and the scenery and zone out for a while, watch the waves?
HUNTER MAHAN: For sure. We joke about playing practice rounds there and forgetting the golf course. It's just so much fun. You get the right day, if it's nice weather, there's just no place I'd rather be. It's awesome.

Q. It seems like for someone who's a rookie or low status it's good to play Pebble because you can get in; that seems to be an attitude. What are they in for?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's just long. Tough golf courses, playing with amateurs, it's long days.

Q. What are they missing by not going?
HUNTER MAHAN: The reason for playing golf, enjoying great golf courses. The weather can get tough, but I don't worry about my putting there or worry it's going to affect anything negatively. I like to play there, and I feel like I can play well there. That's why I go there.

Q. Go back to the commissioner for a second. How did you get hooked up with him, playing with him?
HUNTER MAHAN: They called me and asked me to play with him. I want to be part of this TOUR for a long time, so I figured I should get to know the commissioner and be a part of it the best way I can. It's not going to hurt for me to learn more about the TOUR and how it works and how I can make it better.

Q. Is it a goal of yours at all to make more money than he does?
HUNTER MAHAN: I'm not comfortable going there right now.

Q. Is there any particular part of your game that you're going to concentrate on, or all aspects?
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably short game, hitting that pretty hard, working on some new stuff, so probably it's going to be 70/30.

Q. Your first tournament is not until the fourth one in. Golf seems to have sort of a lackluster start to the year. Is there anything that they could do? Do you have any ideas? Would you like to see there be more of a big bang at the beginning?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't know how you're going to have a big bang. That's tough. NFL playoffs, getting ready for a Super Bowl, stuff like that, it's pretty tough to do. I kind of thought maybe bring out some tournaments early in the year to give the guys with lower status a chance to play. I think we need to focus on our end, after football is over trying and focus on our end. It seems like a lost cause with football and stuff. It's just tough.

Q. So it's okay to ease into it?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's a long year, starts in January and goes to October. It's just tough to have a big bang. This is a great event and people can have a good time. Mercedes is supposed to have that big bang, but I don't know, it's just tough. It's a tough situation.

Q. Is it tough for you? Are you an NFL fan?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, that's why I am taking the first four weeks off. I love playing football, I love watching it.

Q. Are you a Cowboys guy?
HUNTER MAHAN: I am, yeah.

Q. What are you going to play in Florida?
HUNTER MAHAN: Bay Hill, Doral and probably Tampa. It's a big stretch. That's why I kind of need to do some work, but I can't overdo it because I've got a big first two months.

Q. Will you talk about today's round?
HUNTER MAHAN: I hit it great, hit it really good, just didn't make the putts on the front nine. But I'm pretty excited about the way I played, first competitive round, first competitive 18 holes I've played in a while. I liked what I saw, I liked what I felt, and I'm looking forward to -- I think as the week goes, I should be getting more comfortable with the golf course and myself. Looking forward to the next couple days.

End of FastScripts

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