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June 21, 2009

Hunter Mahan


HUNTER MAHAN: You can make birdie. But make bogeys on one bad shot. 5, 6-under is possible out there. We have to be patient and hit a lot of good shots.

Q. When you have one or two guys as far out as Barnes and Glover were to start the day, do you just tell yourself they have a lot of inexperience and hang in there? What's the attitude?
HUNTER MAHAN: They have a lot of holes, just like everybody. So just gotta keep playing, especially on this golf course. Every hole is tough. Every hole has double or bogey. You've got to be so patient out here. Because the greens are rolling true, they're rolling good. You can make some putts and birdies and you can get on a streak.

Q. You can go out there and make birdies you're six off the lead do you feel good about your position?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes and no. It could have been better. But we'll see how those guys finish up and then like I said you can make birdies out here. It's soft. The ball's not running through the fairways. It's not like it's going to be tough tomorrow. The wind's going to be up. So that helps everybody trying to catch the leaders.

Q. Is that one bad shot on the double, what you're talking about making one bad shot?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I caught a little mud on the ball. That's going to happen out here. Needed to hit a better chip and play a safe chip and get on the green somewhere. So just gotta play a little smarter and give myself chances.

Q. You played against Ricky as an amateur. How good was he then and did you wonder what happened to him in the interim?
HUNTER MAHAN: I knew he's been playing on Nationwide, grinding away, trying to get back on TOUR. So he's a very talented, strong, really strong swing and very short game, been very consistent on the Nationwide, I think, made a bunch of cuts, nine top 10s last year I heard. So I think he's a solid player; just needs to get a little more momentum.

Q. Back then would you have predicted he would have come out here and done well initially; and were you surprised that he ran into the trouble he did?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think everybody thinks that. I thought that, get on TOUR and make some money, but it's tough. I got drilled. That was not fun. It's a learning process. You can either grow from it or it knocks you down.
I think he's learned a lot from playing the last few years and he's playing great this week.

Q. This has been such a strange tournament with the weather and the crazy schedule. Do you think that a big lead is not as safe as it might be in a normal event?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's just awkward you're going to play the final round of the U.S. Open on two days and two different types of conditions. Tomorrow I think it's supposed to be windy. It's just weird. It doesn't feel like a U.S. Open.
I think every stroke counts. The bigger the lead, the better.

Q. Can you talk about how much being in this position will help you?
HUNTER MAHAN: Ryder Cup, playing the TOUR, Torrey Pines last year, all that experience helps, trying to win a major it's tough. More chances you get being in tougher situations helps.

Q. Describe the birdie on 18.
HUNTER MAHAN: I didn't make one. I would have liked to. I left it short. My third shot was that short.

Q. Did you play some holes today, didn't you start out -- you already played holes yesterday?
HUNTER MAHAN: I was on 4. I was in a bunker short of the green. Luckily I got to kind of rake it and recreate the lie, because it would have been a lot different this morning, because they kind of raked it and it was nasty and we had to smooth it out. Kind of recreate it.

Q. Hard to get a rhythm doing something like that first shot at U.S. Open bunker shot, trying to save -- it's been like that all week you don't know what round it is and what day it is?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's different. Not used to this. But you need to find your rhythm because someone else probably will, like Ricky. He found a rhythm this week.
So no excuses for you not to find a rhythm. You've got to find it. You just have to go to the range and get in a routine, round routine and get into it. Get in the round fast. You just can't be lackadaisical and make a couple bogeys because that's going to hurt.

Q. What did they tell you about the fourth round; did they give you an idea when it's going to start?
HUNTER MAHAN: No earlier than 5:30.

Q. Torrey Pines last year, greens pretty much lightning, expecting that to be a U.S. Open situation. Are you finding yourself guessing calibrating the speed on every putt and a little different?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think 9 is fast. 9 is just a lot faster than every other green. It sits out in the open. I mean it just doesn't feel soft. And 18 my ball released 15 feet. The balls haven't done that all day. So obviously greens kind of higher up will be maybe a little different. Just gotta pay attention.

Q. Tiger talked about yesterday you don't want to be too aggressive; it can be bumpy coming back?
HUNTER MAHAN: Absolutely. A lot of people walking on them. They're rolling true early, but the footsteps, because they're so soft, you don't want to leave yourself 3-, 4-footers all day because it's going to wear on you.

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