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March 28, 2009

Sean O'Hair


DOUG MILNE: Sean O'Hair, thanks for joining us here in the media center after a rough round for everybody here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was mentioned out there that despite bogey in three of your last four holes, you actually extended your lead, and that sums up what the day was like. Just talk about the conditions, how confident you're feeling about your game and your final round pairing tomorrow.
SEAN O'HAIR: Obviously I feel very good and very comfortable about where my game is right now. I told Paul, my caddie, when I was signing my scorecard, I bogeyed three of the last four holes, and I don't think I missed a shot. I mean, 15 I pushed my drive five yards to the right and obviously was in the trees, which you can't really do on that hole. But hit a great drive and a great second shot on 16, struggling for par, made bogey.
17, hit a perfect shot, had a 40-footer for a birdie and two-putt.
18, I hit 5-wood, wedge, and I think I flew that wedge 169, and my normal wedge goes 135. So I don't know -- it's just, I don't know how you're supposed to play a golf course like that. So I just think everybody just tries to hang on four dear life. Sometimes bogey is not a bad score. I think bogey is almost par for some holes.
It was obviously a tough day for everybody, and I feel good that I played solid all day. The three bogeys didn't reflect on how I played the last three holes.
As far as my pairing tomorrow, I feel very comfortable with Jason. We had a good time today. It was tough to see him finish the way he did because he played solid all day, and obviously I'm playing with Tiger, and everybody I'm sure is asking, what do you feel about that. I don't think I can -- as I tell everybody, I don't think I can do anything that's going to make him play worse (laughter), so I think I'm just going to focus on me and focus on my game and do what I'm doing right now, and that's just playing shot to shot and add them up at the end.

Q. Does it feel a little better with a five-shot lead?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I mean, obviously a five-shot lead is great, but I'm not going to focus on my lead, I'm not going to focus on the fact that I'm leading a golf tournament. The fact of the matter is there's one more round of golf in this event, and I'm going to focus on it like I would Thursday. I'm going to come in and do my routines, and I'm not going to play anybody else, I'm just going to play the golf course, and like I said, play shot to shot and add them up at the end.

Q. Under these conditions is a 1-over par as much of an achievement as a 65 or 66 some other day or some other place?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I felt like I played just as good as I did yesterday, and in some regards almost a little bit better. Short game wasn't quite as tidy as it was yesterday, and I made a few more putts here and there. But anything around even par today I thought was a great score. You know, obviously you saw that with everybody else how they finished.

Q. Can you just address those last four holes, not just for you personally but just trying to get through those things, putting your seatbelt on and keep your lunch down? It seemed like everybody, you, Tiger, Jason, just about everybody was trying to get out there with their hide intact.
SEAN O'HAIR: I think with like 15, 15 is all about picking out a target and hitting your -- kind of a target-oriented shot because it's such a dogleg to the right. And then obviously if you hit a good drive, it gives you a good opportunity at birdie.
Today playing from the right rough, you're struggling with the trees, so that's key. What's funny about that green is it seems like it's just so burned out, and I had a par putt that I probably got halfway to the hole because it just looked to me like it was going to be so fast.
16 is just -- should be a par-7, but it's a par-4 (laughter), and you hit it right down the middle of the fairway. Today I'm glad that they played them up. I'd hate to see them play where they did yesterday in this wind. That was a good move on their part. I hit a good drive, and you've got 140 yards to the hole where anything short of that pin is in the water, anything left of that pin is in the water, so you try and hit it 40 feet past the pin. I mean, my front was the pin, so I wanted to carry it past the pin and keep it a little bit right. Obviously if you do that, it feeds off the green a little bit.
You know, to be honest with you, I wanted to putt it but I couldn't. I was too far off the green, so I putted it with my 5-wood. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, if I hit this a little hard, it's in the water. So in a way you've got to try and make up-and-down but then try and play somewhat conservative, as well, and trust your putter. You're expecting the wind to take it left and the wind doesn't take it. There's just a lot of factors out there that you've got to think about.
17 was extremely hard. I think it hit it in the exact perfect spot and ended up having a 40-foot putt for birdie, and I think one thing I noticed on the last five or six holes is that the greens were kind of getting crusty and burned out and a little bit unpredictable.
And then 18, hit a good drive, and to have 151 pin, 163 to the back edge, and I just wanted to fly it just past the pin, and I hit a smooth wedge, and I just tried to get it in the air so the wind wouldn't knock it down because it was blowing so hard. I fly the green in the bunker. I'm looking at the bunker shot and thinking all I have to do is get this out and it's just going to feed to the hole. It ended up being eight feet short, and what shocked me was how fast that putt was, especially with how slow it was coming down the hill. It's just every shot is a grind, and you've got to be into it and you've got to be focused on it.

Q. Last year the circumstances were obviously different, but you were in the last group with Tiger. You witnessed the whole celebration thing. I just wondered what that was like for you to see that, to be a part of it. Did you get a kick out of it? Did it make you mad that you didn't have a chance to win? What do you remember?
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I think I experienced a few different kinds of emotions. I mean, obviously as a competitor I was a little bit ticked off at myself that I played the front as bad as I did because I played the back fairly well. And in other ways after the round was done, I kind of went over his round in my head, and I was impressed with the fact that I don't know if he was hurt or if he just didn't feel comfortable with his game or what, but he didn't hit many drivers that day, and this isn't the shortest golf course in the world. He left himself, I don't know, like an 8-iron or 7-iron on 10, for instance, and he three-putted but he had a ten-foot putt for birdie, and he played like that all day and he just was very precise, so that was impressive with the fact that he won with probably less than his "A" game.
Obviously it was cool to see the putt go in. It didn't matter for me obviously because I was out of it, but it was cool to see that whole thing on 18 and just kind of how -- you had a feel when he was stalking the putt how he was going to -- you had a good feeling about it. But as a competitor you're just ticked off that you didn't have the opportunity to take it to 18.

Q. Did you hear the sonic boom and did you know what it was?
SEAN O'HAIR: I thought something exploded. I was looking for smoke, and then I heard everybody was saying that was the shuttle, so that made sense. I was looking at a plane, and for about ten minutes I thought it was the shuttle thinking how cool it was (laughter).

Q. If the forecast holds true and we get this overnight rain, that's going to drastically change the nature of what we normally see at Bay Hill. Do you think do you think that will affect things?
SEAN O'HAIR: Obviously it will soften up the golf course which will help the scoring. But you can't predict the weather, and to be honest, for me, I'm just going to kind of have a nice meal and see how it is in the morning, and if we get some rain, obviously I'm going to think about that and see how the course is going to play. But obviously if the course gets some water, it's going to help the situation as far as us scoring. It's going to soften up the fairways, it's going to soften up the greens, and I think it's going to make it a little bit more scorable, that's for sure.

Q. On 6 if that woman hadn't come out and confirmed, was there debate that the ball had crossed up near the green and if she hadn't seen it you would have had to go back?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, I was definitely 100 percent sure that it crossed. It just was a matter of where, because to me it hooked, it crossed, and then it hit, and then it was just a matter of if it bounced on dry land and entered in a different spot. So my question was did it enter once or did it enter twice. It just was a matter of trying to find the right spot.
Obviously we're so far away, it's kind of hard to see and you want to take the proper drop.

Q. You've played with Tiger before, but can you just tell us what makes it so difficult when somebody is playing in the final group on the final day of a tournament with him in terms of obviously people do tend to struggle when they play with him?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I just think people tend to get outside their game and almost watch him and not play their game. I mean, obviously if you're in the last group of a golf tournament on the final day, you're doing something right, and you have just as much as of a chance to win the tournament as he does, and it's just a matter of -- I just don't think people stay in their own little world. I think they tend to get too focused on what he's doing and almost watch him and almost -- I think some people try and beat him or try and play him, when in reality you're not playing Tiger Woods, you're playing the golf course. That's where you're scoring.
To me it's about just focusing on your routine and focusing on seeing your shots and trying to execute them as best as possible. Obviously if you're struggling and having a tough day, you've just got to accept the fact that you're struggling a little bit and you've got to make the proper adjustments.
But as far as that's concerned, I think what I've struggled with playing with him a few times is that I just think I tend to get out of my game, and so I think I've learned from that, and I'm playing well, and I feel like mentally I'm a lot stronger this year than I've ever been.
You know, I look forward to tomorrow.

Q. I just wondered whether you had any good Arnold stories that we might not have heard where you dealt with him personally. Seemingly there was something last year where you guys talked or something. And secondly, you've got family that lives in the area, you've got some central Florida connections. What would winning this thing mean to you if that's not getting too far ahead of myself.
SEAN O'HAIR: As far as Arnold Palmer is concerned, it's extremely difficult for me to talk to somebody who's achieved so much in his life. I mean, when you -- I think I'm in such awe when I'm in his presence, when I'm standing in front of him. Like I was here three weeks ago or two weeks ago before I played Tampa and played a practice round here with my father-in-law and my brother-in-law. I saw him, just introduced myself, he was having breakfast with his wife, and I introduced myself, and then he came out to our first hole on the putting green. It was like, "Holy crap. I hope I don't chunk this chip." What do you say to Arnold Palmer?
I think on TV he reminds me a little bit of my granddad a little bit, so he's just got such a welcoming-type face I guess you could say, and he's so -- I don't know, I just think if you watched him in his prime and you watch him now, when we were here playing a practice round, he was out all day and talking to I don't know how many people, taking pictures, signing autographs, and I don't think it's any different than when he was in his prime. I mean, how many people do you see on TOUR doing that now? Not too many.
He's a pretty cool guy, yeah.
What was your other question?

Q. With your Florida ties and family and Bradenton and whatnot.
SEAN O'HAIR: I'm just worried about what I'm going to eat tonight (laughter).

Q. You talked a lot about your swing changes yesterday. With your old swing would you be able to control the ball as well in the wind as you did today?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, my whole swing was all timing oriented. That's why if you looked at my career and you go back each year and kind of analyze it, I had streaks where always on this time of year I played terrible, and then starting about -- after this event and going into the summer and through the summer, I played well, and now I might have had a few bad stretches in between or whatever, but normally my good time to play was during the summer. It was because obviously I beat a lot of balls and I got my timing right. But now I don't feel like I have to practice quite as hard. All I feel like I have to do is just do my drills and I'm good to go.

Q. What about your ball flight in wind like this?
SEAN O'HAIR: I just think when your swing is tighter and it repeats more frequently, you're going to get the same flight every single time. So I just really feel like I can hit it high, I can hit it low, I can shape it to the right, I can shape it to the left. I've always been a good wind player, but I haven't been as good at controlling my trajectory and being as consistent with that. The swing changes have definitely helped with that.

Q. To that point, you talked about being a good wind player the last couple days. All things considered, with the lead you have, would you rather the conditions remained the same, or given the forecast, does it matter one way or the other to you?
SEAN O'HAIR: It doesn't matter to me. I mean, when you really look at it, it's not like half the field is going to play in wind and half the field is not. I think it's actually kind of nice that we're double teeing it tomorrow so everybody is kind of in a tighter frame, and we're all going to be playing the same conditions, same weather. I figure let's tee it up.

Q. What do you think you need to score tomorrow to take this victory?
SEAN O'HAIR: I have no idea. Depends on the weather, depends on the golf course. It won't matter I don't think. I think good golf shots and a good mind.
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for your time and best of luck tomorrow.

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