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March 18, 2009

Sean O'Hair


MARK WILLIAMS: Thank you for coming in. Welcome to the Transitions Championship media center. You've had a great start to the year. You've got to be excited about coming back here and defending.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I am. The course looks fantastic, and I've been playing well and I feel good about where my game is right now.
So you know, looking forward to a successful week.
MARK WILLIAMS: Does the course look any different than last year to you?
SEAN O'HAIR: There's little things here and there. Last year, I felt like the golf course was in phenomenal shape. Somehow they outdid themselves this year. The fairways are just pure as can be, and the greens look like they have a little bit more grass on them.
Last year on the weekend, they got burned out pretty good and it was hard to make putts. Looks like they have a lot more grass on the greens this year, and it's in beautiful condition and should be a great week for the tournament.
MARK WILLIAMS: Since you won last year, you have been very consistent with a lot of Top-10s and Top-25s. Has there been something stopping you?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I've been kind of asking myself the same question. I think there are just a few things here and there that keep me from contending a little bit. Maybe I'll hit the ball really well one day and I might not make the putts. The next day, I kind of won't quite be as on with the ball-striking, but then my putting will finally show up and I'll get in the hole.
I think it's just a matter of having that week where everything starts kind of getting some momentum going and you pull it off. But I definitely feel that my game is in a position where I can win not just once, not just twice; maybe a few times this year. So I'm pretty excited.

Q. One of the catch phrases every year at this event is that it's a ball-striker's golf course.

Q. Besides the obvious, what is a good ball-striker to you guys?
SEAN O'HAIR: Just somebody that when they miss a shot isn't going to miss it 30 or 40 yards off-line. There's a lot of different types of ball-strikers. I look at guys like the Phil Mickelsons, the Vijay Singhs, the Tiger Woods, where I consider those guys great ball-strikers.
Sometimes they are not the straightest off the tee and sometimes they are phenomenal off the tee. But they somehow get the ball in the hole. If you look at what they all do well, they hit a lot of greens; no matter where they hit it off the tee, they hit a lot of greens. And I think to me, that's what a good ball-striker is, is even when you are not on, somehow getting it done.
Out here, I look at this golf course and I see that the rough is pretty thick; it's healthy. Fairways are fairly tight. I expect the fairways to start running out here the next few days and so you need to hit a lot of fairways.
So a guy like, I guess a Rod Pampling hits it dead straight all the time. I saw Fred Funk this year, he's probably going to have a good week and Kenny Perry, when he's on, he's hitting it straight. I look at guys like that, they are good ball-strikers.
I just think, though, when you get players that basically they score with the putter and are kind of crooked all the time, you get some of those players, I don't think this is going to be a week for them.
I look at the players here, there's really known here I don't think is not going to be able to contend this week. It's a good, solid field. Length is helpful on this golf course, but it's not a necessity. I think accuracy is more where you want to be.

Q. Is there a number that you could say X percent of the players on TOUR are good ball-strikers? Is it ten percent? 20?
SEAN O'HAIR: I would say ten percent of guys out here are good ball-strikers. And everybody else, I would say everybody is a good golfer; they find a way to get the ball in the hole. But I would say only ten percent of the guys out here are good ball-strikers.

Q. Big change of mind-set. Last week pretty much you knew early on you had to make a lot of birdies. This week, it's not that mind-set; do you like that going one week to another?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I like courses like this. I like courses where you can pace yourself. First day, you don't feel like you have to go out and shoot 7- or 8-under par to keep yourself in the tournament.
You know what, this is a course that you can go low on, but it's definitely one where a 2-under par round is a good round of golf, which I like.
So you know, this is just kind of a thinking man's golf course. It takes a lot of patience. You're going to hit it in the rough, and when you do, it's a matter of if you get a good lie, and if you don't, you've got to take your medicine and kind of rely on your short game, and you have to know where to miss it. There's definitely places you can and cannot miss it, and so I definitely think it's more of a thinking man's golf course than it was last week. I mean, last week was just a bomb-fest and a putting contest. It should be a little bit obviously different this week.

Q. I had a mind-set question also. Do you recall what your mind-set was coming into this tournament last year, and is it much different coming in this year as the defending champ?
SEAN O'HAIR: Last year my mind-set coming into this week was to find my game. You know, I was playing awful. I think I only made like $43,000 coming into this event, and this was my sixth tournament of last year.
So I was with my instructor. We were trying to find something, trying to find a swing, and we found it on the range on Tuesday, and I hit the ball just great and played well.
So just worked out for me. But this year I've been playing really well and I think for me right now, it's just trying to keep those expectations, lower them a little bit, because obviously I feel very comfortable on this course. I love the area.
I've played a lot of golf here, and so it's just a matter of not expecting too much out of myself to where I don't play my game. I feel that the game is there, and I just have got to basically step out of my own way and just do what I do best.

Q. So you literally found it on Tuesday on the driving range and it carried you through?
SEAN O'HAIR: No. Last year was kind of a very inconsistent year. I changed coaches in Canada of last year, and ever since then, I've had a different -- completely different game plan. This off-season, I changed my swing completely. So I'm with somebody different and working on different things.
It just happened that last year at this time, my coach at the time came over here, we worked on it for a few days, found it on Tuesday and I played well for a couple of weeks. I actually had a third at Bay Hill last year, so I just kind of had one of those stretches where I played really well.

Q. Was it a complete overhaul?
SEAN O'HAIR: Complete overhaul. Changed my setup, changed my backswing, changed my follow-through, changed everything.

Q. Not to give you a hard time, but you had some health problems or injury problems last summer. How is that standard transmission thing working out?
SEAN O'HAIR: It's fine. Yeah, that was actually a pretty big setback for me. It took me out for about a month, and it was at the time where I played the best. My game was really good at the time and I was really looking forward to playing the U.S. Open, and that really sucked.

Q. I hate to belabor it, but can you go through the story?
SEAN O'HAIR: Actually what happened was I bought a Mustang from a Buddy of mine, and what happened was I was going to work out. I had a 7:00 a.m. workout with my trainer at home and I was pulling out of my house around 6:45. It rained that night. I just, you know, lost the butt end of the car and went into a telephone pole. That's what happened. So, end of story.

Q. And the setback was what, a couple of months?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, the seat belt got me. I hit a telephone pole going probably about 30, 35 miles an hour. Yeah, it was a direct impact and just seat belt got me in the chest, and I had some chest issues for about a month. I couldn't swing a club for a month.
After that, it was fine. I haven't had any issues since then. It was just one of those things -- unfortunately I wish I could say I was going like a hundred. I probably wouldn't be here. I wish I had an interesting story to tell you. I was just driving. Obviously it was too early in the morning to go race somebody. I think it just was I shouldn't have been driving a car that had tires like that thin on wet road.
But I think where it set me back was just at the time it was, in the summer, and that's when I play my best.
MARK WILLIAMS: I want to ask you, when it comes to the end of the year looking forward, what would be a satisfying year for you as far as winning goals, majors, Presidents Cup?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, my goals this year are Presidents Cup, I'd like to win multiple times, and every single major this year, I would like to contend, if not win.
So I think where I want to be with my game is just every single week, be in some kind of contention. When I play bad, top 20. When I play good, Top-10. When I play really good, I win.
Right now I'm playing good. I'm not quite playing great yet. So I just want to keep putting myself in a situation where I can experience those Sunday afternoon feelings to where when I do put myself in a position to win, I feel comfortable.
MARK WILLIAMS: Is that one of the reasons you changed coaches?
SEAN O'HAIR: I just think the thing is, you know, the guy I had before, Steve Dahlby, I've worked with for basically a lot of my life. I've known him since I was about 12 years old. He's a friend of mine. But just got to a point where it was way too inconsistent. I just didn't feel like I knew where I was going with my game.
And so I just wanted to give this guy, Sean Foley, a try, and the guy is amazing, he really is. He explains it to you. I've learned more about my golf swing in the past, you know, half year than I have my whole entire life. I've changed my swing. And normally when you change your golf swing, you struggle for a certain period of time. I've improved.
So it gets me fired up and gets me to where I want to go on the range and go work on it. I mean, my putting has improved. My pitching has improved. My chipping has improved. Everything in my game has improved, and it allows me to go work on my mental side, and that helps me because I don't have to go search on the range for three hours and not know what I'm doing. It's an exciting time for me right now.
MARK WILLIAMS: How did you find him, through Stephen Ames?
SEAN O'HAIR: He works with Stephen Ames and Parker McLachlin and Hunter Mahan. He was working with Amesey at the time, and he had a lot of great things to say. He's been fantastic.

Q. That being said, what's your focus on the Masters?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I feel like the Masters I'm going to play the Monday after Bay Hill with Hunter Mahan. We are going to go play a practice round. And then I'm to go going home for a few days, and I'm going to go down to Florida the Friday before and work with my caddie a little bit on my short game at TPC and then we are going to drive to Augusta.
I love the course. It's a ball-striker's golf course just like this one, and I think I'm playing at the right time. I think for me right now, is just when I play well, I've got to lower my expectations. I can't come out and just say, hey, I'm going to win this golf tournament. That's obviously a nice thought, but I've got things to do to do that. I've got a process I've got to follow to win a golf tournament. That's kind of my focus mentally is just what's it going to take to win Augusta and what do I need to work on to do that, and that's what I'm focusing on right now.
MARK WILLIAMS: Sean, thank you for coming in, appreciate it and all the best this week.

End of FastScripts

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