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May 3, 2009

Sean O'Hair


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: At this time we'd like to welcome the winner of the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship, Sean O'Hair. Congratulations on your win, becoming the first American player under the age of 30 with three wins, and I believe you move to third in the FedExCup standings and significantly up in the Presidents Cup standings. A lot of hard work this week, and congratulations.
SEAN O'HAIR: Thank you. You know, obviously I've been playing really well, and it's just nice to -- you know, all year there's been little disappointments here and there, although I've been playing some great golf. I'll just have one bad day or one week I'll be striking the ball really well, and I'm not quite putting the putter together. One week I'll put the putter together and then the driver is kind of leaving.
It was just nice this week to have a nice solid week and close the deal.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Your track record here at Quail Hollow hasn't been all that good. Do you explain that that you're just a better player now?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think that's pretty much an understatement about how bad I've played here. I don't think I've made a cut. This is my first cut here, which is pretty amazing.
You know, I think coming into this event I've always been struggling with my ball-striking. You know, when I struggle with my ball-striking I put more pressure on my putter, and then obviously it's tough to kind of close the deal with just the putter on this golf course.
You know, I think this year I've just been striking the ball really well. My coach and I have been doing a lot of good work, and I just feel like as a ball-striker I'm a much better player this year.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Just for the record you did finish tied for 54th the first time you played here, just to clear that up. We'll take some questions.

Q. Given your record here, did you give any thought to not playing here this year?
SEAN O'HAIR: Actually I think I did, but I just was looking at my schedule at the beginning of the year, and this was one of the ones I was kind of iffy on. It's always one that you want to play in. But like you said, just the track record was kind of a little bit iffy.
Really the only reason why I come here is because you can drive the Mercedes-Benz all week (laughter). So it was just nice to play well.
I felt like when I came here and I saw the rough the way it was on my first practice round, it was just a sigh of relief because this place always plays like a major, and you just don't want that kind of stress before THE PLAYERS.
I think they did a fantastic job setting up the golf course. It made it more fun for us, I think it made it more playable. I don't know what the feedback was from the rest of the players, but I think it made it more exciting this week.

Q. After the disappointment at Bay Hill, is this something that you can look at and it gives you confidence and restores some confidence in yourself that you can win out here?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I mean, losing sucked at Bay Hill. I mean, that's pretty much to just keep it simple. It pretty much just sucked. It wasn't a matter of I didn't feel like I was going to play well after that. I knew I was going to keep playing well, I was going to keep striking the ball well and it was just a matter of time. But obviously you just -- even though it is tough to lose like that, to lose a five-shot lead against obviously Tiger, you still learn a lot from it.
I think it's just experience. It just gives you more and more experience. If you look at it that way as a positive after the fact -- obviously in the media center after the round, it's kind of hard to look at the positive things of what happened. But after a couple days go by and you kind of dwell on it a little bit and you kind of think what happened, what could I have done differently, you learn from it, and it's just an experience that's going to help you become a better player.
I talked to my coach, I talked to my caddie Paul, and we just all said, all I have to do is keep putting myself in those situations, and at some point I'm going to learn how to win. And it's just nice to obviously win as quickly as I did after Bay Hill.

Q. I just wanted to get your thoughts, he mentioned there's now three guys in their 20s in the whole world on this TOUR who have three or more wins, you and Sergio and Adam Scott. Your thoughts on being in that company?
SEAN O'HAIR: Obviously it's great company. Those guys are phenomenal players. You know, obviously -- isn't Jonathan Byrd in that?

Q. He's 30.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it's awesome. You know, I'd like to raise that number obviously by the end of the year, but it's obviously some great company.

Q. As a follow-up, I think they mentioned to you outside, did you think it was possible you could win on the PGA TOUR not making a putt longer than 10 feet all week? That seems almost incomprehensible in this day and age.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I didn't even know that stat actually until Peter told me that. Yeah, I struck the ball phenomenally this week. I mean, yesterday was really nice. That was probably the best I've struck it ever. And today was pretty solid, especially coming down the stretch.
I hit some nice drives, some nice 5-woods. 15 I hit a nice little 5-wood in there and had some nice iron shots coming in. Like 17 I hit that exactly where I wanted it, and I just -- the wind didn't quite catch it as much as I wanted it to.
You know, this is definitely one of those courses that you have to have the whole package, so for me not to make a putt outside 10 feet, it is kind of weird that I won this golf tournament.

Q. After what happened at Bay Hill, does it mean more to you to win when Tiger was in contention here?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think you want to play well, you want to win golf tournaments where the best field is there. Obviously we don't -- I'm not sitting there saying, oh, I beat Tiger this week. I'm not sitting there saying that, no. A win is a win, no matter how you look at it. It's just nice to win a golf tournament where it was a solid field this week.

Q. In a lot of ways you've kind of grown up out here. Can you just talk about how you've matured into a person, married, have kids, maybe how that's helped you maybe as a player out here?
SEAN O'HAIR: Sure. I got married very young, had kids very young. We're expecting our third child. So I think that alone makes you mature pretty quickly.
When my daughter was born, everything changed. I mean, it went from about me to about family. You know, so that's a huge deal. I think I've had some tough things to get through, through my short career so far, things that kind of have hurt a little bit, but I think they kind of toughen you up a little bit and they're learning experiences. I definitely have benefitted from those.
I think obviously the more time you spend out here, the more you're going to learn and the better player you're going to become, and I think obviously if you hang around with the right people out here, and I've got a beautiful family, it's just going to make you a stronger person, too.

Q. You played the Masters as your next tournament after Bay Hill. I'm curious how long it took you to get over Bay Hill before you had your chat with Paul and Sean about what you needed to take out of it.
SEAN O'HAIR: As far as getting over it, I got over it before the Masters started.

Q. Thursday?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah (laughing). Actually I will say, I'll be honest, I got there Monday and I was playing a practice round, and I saw Tiger, and he looked over and I kind of nodded, and he said something, and I'm like, that son of a bitch. No, I'm just joking. No, I'm really not, actually. (Laughter.)
You know, once it started on Thursday, yeah, I was pretty much over it. The guy is a fierce competitor, and it's just -- if you want to be out here and compete, I think that was one thing I kind of looked at after a couple days went by. If I want to compete at this level, that's not the only tournament that I'm going to lose. It's not the only one. I'll be in the lead many more times and probably blow another five-shot lead. It's just that stuff like that happens. Unfortunately that's part of competing at a high level.
These guys are the best players in the world, and me losing a five-shot lead doesn't mean I'm a failure, it just means I got beat, I wasn't good enough to win that day. And that's how you've got to look at it.

Q. If your message out of it was that you just need to keep putting yourself in contention, how important was it to win the next time you were there, which was today?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I mean, obviously it's fantastic. Like I said, it's a bonus to have won shortly after Bay Hill. You know, I guess after Thursday, Friday, Saturday I felt like I shot the highest I could have shot as well as I played the last three days, and I was on the phone last night with my coach, and I said, you know, on one hand I'm just ecstatic with how well I'm playing; I'm making a lot of headway. I feel like my game is just right on the cusp of doing some pretty cool stuff. But on the other hand I feel like I'm kind of not quite getting it done.
So we just talked a little bit and just kind of got a good mindset today and I just felt like, hey, let's shoot a good score and win this thing today.

Q. Coming down the stretch you were losing a couple strokes on a couple of holes there. Were you doing any scoreboard watching, and who behind you were you concerned might overtake you?
SEAN O'HAIR: The only time I -- I didn't look at a scoreboard. The only time I asked was on 18 tee. I just was so into me out there, which I think I did a good job with today, and how I was doing. And then once I bogeyed 17, I just was wanting to know where I stood going into 18. So I asked my caddie Paul, "Where do I stand," and he said, "You're a shot ahead," and I said, "Over who," and he said, "Glover." We just left it at that.

Q. Any experience not so much going head-to-head but having that kind of contention with Lucas before?
SEAN O'HAIR: I'm sure we have. You know, I'm sure we have back probably rookie year, '06, something like that. Yeah, I was pretty concerned, obviously, after I three-putted 18, because I knew that he's got the game to take it away from me.

Q. Two things: You referred to a minute ago the Monday at Augusta. Was Tiger giving you the needle when you saw him? And the second thing is can you talk about, you've been a pro for ten years. I mean, just how far, the journey that that has been. You're only 26 years old. It's almost like a lifetime.
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, yeah. I mean, it feels like when I turned pro at 17 -- it feels like a lifetime ago, it really does. It feels like a whole 'nother life. Mini-Tour days, my wife and I have been through a lot. We traveled the mini-Tours. I remember being on the Gateway Tour in '04 and having $2,000 in our bank account and we didn't have enough money to play in any tournaments in the summer. It was basically we were playing for a meal ticket for the next week. I mean, it was actually that tough. We constantly talk about that stuff and reminisce.
I think that's the stuff that makes this so sweet. It makes the hard work worth it, and it's just really nice to enjoy it with her, especially from where we came from.
It's amazing, being 26, I have been through a lot of stuff in my life so far. It's been a fun trip. It's been a lot of fun.

Q. And about on Tiger Monday at Augusta?
SEAN O'HAIR: I just saw him, and he smiled and I smiled back. He's a good guy. You know, he texted me afterwards and said some nice words. The guy is just -- no matter how friendly you are with him, he wants to slit your throat on the golf course, and I respect that. That's a true competitor.
I bet he's probably a competitor at everything. I would like to beat him at Xbox, on his own game, though. I think I have a chance with that (laughter).

Q. What did he say to you in the valet area?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, he just said congratulations, and obviously it was cool that he came up and did that. Like I said, he's just a really cool guy. He's a class act.

Q. We've talked a lot about this field is as good next to a major as there is on the TOUR. So does this make it a validation of sorts for you, winning this tournament?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I don't know. You mean as far as like what, validation of me being out here?

Q. That you can be one of the elite players in the game.
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I don't know. I think that's more up to you guys to decide that. I just feel that my job as a player is to come out every single week and be ready to play. My goals are to win major championships and win big tournaments.
I feel like I'm finally on my way to getting there. I'm not quite there yet. I still have a lot of work to do. But I can't thank him enough, but Sean Foley has really changed my game around. I think he's changed my life forever, so I owe a lot to Sean.

Q. You mentioned that when you were on 18 tee you asked Paul if you were in the lead or not and then who was behind you.
SEAN O'HAIR: Mm-hmm.

Q. Why did you ask who was behind you?
SEAN O'HAIR: I don't know. I just wanted to know, I guess.

Q. Would it have mattered if it was Tiger versus someone else?
SEAN O'HAIR: I don't think so, no. No, it wasn't have mattered. I think it was more of a question of like how many guys were behind me, and he just said, "Lucas." I think that was more the question was what's the story. He's like, "You're one shot ahead," and I said, "Of who." At one point I could have sworn there was a tie, three or four guys tied. I didn't stare at a scoreboard, but kind of when I was looking I kind of saw three guys at 11 or four guys at 11, so I wanted to know how many guys were there.

Q. Just to follow up, are you a leaderboard watcher most times?
SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I like to look on the back nine on Sunday. It's pretty hard not to see a scoreboard out there, there's so many of them and they're so big. You know, obviously even if you're not trying to, you're going to look up and you're going to see it. But you know, like today, I wasn't really, like, okay, where do we stand. So I tried not to be too conscious of it.
Really the stuff I work on with Rotella is all about staying in the present, being in my own world. Looking at that stuff is just going to get me messed up.

Q. Just one other thing: At Bay Hill did you look a lot on Sunday?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, I did not. Obviously playing with Tiger you had a pretty good idea. But no.

Q. What do you think was the most significant shot you hit on the back nine today and why?
SEAN O'HAIR: That's a good question. The birdie on 16. I think the tee shot, just that whole hole got me through, I guess. If I was looking at the leaderboard -- I don't even know, did I have a two-shot lead after that hole? After that hole, so obviously it kind of gives you a little bit of breathing room going into those last two holes because those are some of the most difficult closing holes out here.

Q. Talk about the shot you played into 16.
SEAN O'HAIR: On 16, it was 150 yards to the pin. That's what we wanted to fly it. The wind was into our face and a little bit off the right. I hit an 8-iron, and the top of my 8-iron is about 163, 165. I asked Paul, I said, "Is this enough?" He's like, "Yeah, but you're going to have to keep it out of the wind." I just hit it as hard as I could and tried to flight it and hit really a perfect golf shot.
Walking up to the green, I was trying to pump myself up to make that putt because I missed a few shorties on the back and hit good putts. But just kind of missed some opportunities, so I really wanted to close on that one.

Q. After hitting maybe like a bad putt or a bad shot, have you improved in your mind in how you are able to recalibrate, just sort of let that go? Has that been a big part of this Top 10 thing?
SEAN O'HAIR: Absolutely. You know, Sean and Rotella have been a huge part of that, just of -- the word we use is acceptance, trying to -- everything that happens to me, good, bad, whatever, I need to accept. And I've done a really good job with that this year. Like yesterday I missed a 22-inch putt on 12 and then I birdied 13, 14, 15. You know, I think that shows that -- I think I'm doing a good job with that.
Obviously there's a lot of things in life that happen that you have to accept. I mean, obviously after Bay Hill, a lot of writers wrote some pretty nasty things and a lot of people said some nasty things, and I can't control what they say. They can believe what they want to believe, but I know who I am, I know what I'm capable of, and I just accept that.
There's a lot of things that you've got to do, and I think the key word for me this year is acceptance.

Q. Just getting back to the Tiger needle thing, he said something to you on the putting green that had him laughing especially. Is that worth repeating?
SEAN O'HAIR: Well, that whole thing I don't think we can really repeat too much, but it was about basketball. His team beat mine. He said, "Have you enjoyed fishing?" And I'm like, "What?" I didn't know what he was talking about. He's like, "Your team is fishing." I said, "You're going to be joining them pretty soon, too." Because I would imagine that Boston is going to win this series.

Q. Did he mention who his team was this week?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, that's a good one. I like that. I've got to save that, tell him that.
The tough thing about him is he's such a good ball-breaker. And I'm from Philly, I'm naturally a ball-breaker. He's just better than I am.

Q. If you just want to talk about kind of how the TOUR, having this and having THE PLAYERS back-to-back, what kind of challenges that presents to you here on the TOUR.
SEAN O'HAIR: Could you repeat that one more time?

Q. Just having Quail Hollow, then THE PLAYERS Championship. Talk about how the TOUR kind of plays out these two tournaments.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it's a tough couple weeks, obviously. I think they did a good job setting up this golf course to be nice and firm because I think next week it's going to be the same thing, pretty firm and fast. You know, obviously the rough is going to be a little bit higher and all that. But it's fun to -- this is one of those tournaments you don't want to miss.
Like I said, I haven't had a great track record, but you don't want to miss this event, and obviously THE PLAYERS you're just going to get ready for a long week. It's a pretty stressful week there.

Q. You mentioned '04 on the Gateway. Is that when you guys were tooling around in the camper that R.J. got you?

Q. Was that in the Connecticut area?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, that was actually in San Diego. Yeah, I played the Gateway Tour winter series in San Diego, and we bought -- my grandparents bought us the bus in Mesa, Arizona, and then we went up to San Diego, and after the San Diego series we drove it cross country and played the New England Tour that year. I think it was the Cleveland Tour then.

Q. What was it?
SEAN O'HAIR: It was a 40-foot three-slide Fleetwood Discovery.

Q. So you weren't slumming that bad?
SEAN O'HAIR: No, they bought us a nice little deal. But that was our house. We didn't have a house, we didn't have anything. They bought it for us, and one day I remember calling my granddad, and I talked to him a lot back then, and I said, granddad, I can't afford paying you, because I took out a loan with him and I had to pay him back, and I said, I can't afford this and you're going to have to take this back and sell it and I'll pay you back when I get the money. He said, don't worry about it, when you get the money you can pay us back, and if not, so what. So it took a lot of pressure off. I actually ended up having a pretty good year, a good summer that year.

Q. Where is the craziest place you parked out there?
SEAN O'HAIR: The craziest place I parked? Basically we parked in a lot of Wal-Mart parking lots. I remember one night, it was in Arkansas, and there was a tornado, and we were looking at the radar. The bus is shaking, and we were in an RV park, and I look outside and the trees are literally bent sideways. And these aren't small trees.
I'm looking at everybody else, and everybody is turning off the lights in their buses, and I'm just like, what are we doing, are we kind of kissing our butts goodbye here? I don't know what's going on. So we called the people at the front desk, and we're like, what do we do? They pretty much said there's not a whole lot we can do. You've just got to sit and wait. And literally the tornado passed us within five miles, and that was pretty scary.
And then actually oddly enough, the next week we were in North Carolina and we ran into a storm that it probably lightning-ed (sic) on top of us for three hours. I'm from Texas; I've seen some pretty nasty weather. I've never seen a lightning storm like that for three straight hours. I thought it was Armageddon. In a motor home if it sprinkles it sounds like hail, so there's been some pretty freaky stuff. But it's fun stuff we talk about now.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go through your birdies and bogeys today and then we'll take a final question or two.
SEAN O'HAIR: The bogey on 4 -- I'm never good at this. I can't even remember. Oh, yeah, I was in the trees left. I actually hit a good drive but the wind didn't take it to the right but I was kind of blocked out so I had to take it over the tall tree on the left. I had a ridiculous two-putt. I was long, kind of on the back of the green, so I three-putted that.
5, I made a nice up-and-down for birdie, hit it over the green, pretty simple up-and-down.
8 was a -- I hit a really good drive. I thought I hit it on the green and it took a bad kick and went in the bunker. But it was a pretty simple bunker shot, so I made a good up-and-down there.
10 was huge. I actually hit a really bad drive. I hooked it left. Somehow it was over the bunker. I don't know if it ran through the bunker or what. I didn't see it. I ended up over the bunker and then hit a 3-wood to about ten feet and lipped out for eagle and made birdie.
And then 12 was just a nice, solid hole, good drive, good second shot, knocked a lob wedge to about six feet, made the putt.
15, knocked a 5-wood on the front of the green, hit a pretty good first putt, but I misread it. It went left. I saw it going a little bit right at the end, if not just straight or going a little bit right at the end. So I kind of left myself a little bit of a testy five-footer left to right, and that was a solid -- actually that was probably one of the key shots of the day right there, thinking about it now.
And then 16, like I said, just a good 8-iron, made the putt from about eight feet.
And then 17, I just -- it was one of those holes where 4-iron was the club, and we were going at the CBS sign and I hit it right at the CBS sign and it just went dead straight. It took a bad hop to the right, which obviously it took the slope there. But I wasn't too upset about that and had a pretty difficult up-and-down, so I made a good bogey there.
Then 18, hit a good drive with a 3-wood, hit a solid 8-iron from like 175 or 176. So obviously I had some adrenaline pumping there. I asked my caddie, I said, "This is a pretty fast putt, isn't it?" He's like, "Yeah, it is." And I ended up blowing it by eight feet and missed the putt coming back.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You played 16, 17 and 18 even for the week.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, that's huge. Actually I was watching a little bit of Golf Channel, the little that I do (laughter). I just don't get any TV time, I get no props, so what the hell? (Laughter.) They actually said the people who went -- they said whoever shoots even par on 17 and 18 is probably going to win this golf tournament, or you guys were talking about that, one of your experts.

Q. Did you ever pay grandpa back?
SEAN O'HAIR: I did. I did. We sold the bus, and I ended up paying him back, so that was nice to do that. You know, he was always one of my -- he was basically my mentor, him and Steve Lucas, my father-in-law. They were my mentors. Actually my granddad passed away last year during Doral, and so that kind of sucked. But it's fun to look back on those times, a lot of discussions with him about the bus.
It was his idea, actually, and it made things a lot easier for Jackie and I, so that was really cool.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Sean O'Hair, congratulations.

End of FastScripts

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