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September 8, 2009

Hunter Mahan


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Hunter Mahan to the interview room. Hunter just recently this morning by Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples was picked to his second Presidents Cup team. Hunter was also selected in 2007 by Jack Nicklaus. Hunter, if you'd start off and just give some general comments about being selected to your second team and then we'll take some questions.
HUNTER MAHAN: Obviously I'm very, very excited to be a part of the team, once again. It's definitely something you look forward to, and it's something I've been working hard towards since the beginning of the year. I'm thankful for Fred and Jay, to be given this opportunity, and definitely want to make the most of it and hopefully play great in San Francisco.

Q. You mentioned on the teleconference earlier that it was a very, very stressful couple of weeks. How much stress were you putting on this and was it affecting your play?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think beforehand I didn't know -- not being on other teams, I guess you're just trying to make the team because you haven't done it before and everyone has so many great things to say about it. And this time, experience, you really want to make it. You know how much fun it is, you know what a great experience it is, and how much fun the competition is.
So I definitely really, really wanted to make it. I probably put a little pressure on myself a couple of rounds. Just needed to go out there and play. But I learned from that experience, and I'm excited to be playing this week and excited to be playing in a couple weeks.

Q. If you could, how much lobbying did you do with Fred this year? How much contact did you have with him up until he called to tell you you were one of the picks?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I tried to limit my lobbying. I didn't really want to talk to him and talk my way onto the team. I just wanted to play good. I had a little bit of contact with him, kind of texting and stuff like at that. He gave me some positive text messages, and I tried to tell him how much I wanted to play on the team and how hard I was going to play if I did make it and stuff like that.
But yeah, I just tried to go out there and play well and tried to make it easy for him.

Q. Have you been on the course yet?
HUNTER MAHAN: I have not, no. I haven't seen it. I haven't seen too much of it. It's supposed to be a ball-striker's course, though.

Q. There's kind of a debate among fans about whether they'd like a course to be hard enough to limit birdies or so hard that par is a good score. What do the players think? What's the consensus out there?
HUNTER MAHAN: Are you talking about for Presidents Cup or are you talking in general?

Q. I'm talking in general.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think the fans like to see us struggle sometimes, like to see us kind of scratch our heads and kind of looking confused out there. I enjoy that challenge. I just think it's a lot more fun when you play a really tough golf course. It's a lot more mental than it is physical sometimes because you have to mentally stay in the rounds a lot longer, and you know par is a good score.
But it is taxing. You know, I don't think you could do that every week. That would kind of mentally drain you. It would almost be too hard. As much as fans want to see a struggle, they want to see birdies, too. They don't want to see us make pars all day long. They want to see eagles and reachable par-4s and see some exciting stuff.
The PGA I think was a great example of that. I mean, Y.E. makes a chip-in for eagle and really experienced that event upside down with Tiger and hit some good shots. I think they want to see both. They want to see us kind of struggle but they want to see great shots. I don't think it's a whole lot of fun for anybody if we're kind of just making par putts all day long.

Q. This is kind of a tweener thing. Do you look at coming here as you're playing a new course? You sort of have to know the basics of where Cog Hill was.

Q. How are you looking at this week?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it definitely is -- I've heard the greens are a lot different. I've heard they raised them up, so that's definitely going to be new. They lengthened it, I've heard, so it's a lot longer. But I guess kind of the same -- the course is still on the same track, still kind of the same lines and everything. There will definitely be some changes, though, we're going to have to think our way a little bit more, try and figure out the nuances of the course and the greens and everything. I think we're all treating this like a new course.

Q. You said you haven't played it, but can you call on experiences from playing other courses that Rees has worked on or renovated recently and maybe take some of that to what you'll see this week?
HUNTER MAHAN: Not too much, because this is in a different place. This is different grasses and everything. I think, you know, it's going to be longer and the greens are going to be raised up. I'm trying to figure out the fall lines on the greens and where the water is going to run off and where the putts are going to break and stuff like that. I don't think it's going to help you too much out here. You just have to figure out this course and the tendencies of it, and hopefully you figure it out by Thursday.

Q. This tournament, these tournaments, these Playoff tournaments, are they sort of in difficulty of courses between regular PGA TOUR events and majors, or is it supposed to be closer to a major? What's it supposed to be?
HUNTER MAHAN: They're definitely not majors. I think majors stand alone in their difficulty. I think these are just trying to get the best players in the world together and hopefully see some great golf. I think Barclays was kind of a new golf course. We didn't really know what to expect. Obviously it wasn't very difficult. Last week you could make some birdies on it because the course was in perfect shape. Greens were running very, very true, so that was a little bit more kind of a birdie-fest, a little more exciting.
This week from what I've seen, it looks a little bit more major-ish. It's longer. It's probably going to have some thick rough. I think the weather has been pretty good here, so it will probably be a little bit more difficult than last week.
But I think it's kind of, I guess, in between. Just the fact that we have all the best players in the world here is going to make it very competitive and a great event.

Q. What did you think of -- how surprised were you by the Adam Scott pick?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think there's -- I mean, there was a ton of great players all over the world. Adam has had a lot of success on past teams. I still think he's a great player. He's just in a little slump right now, and maybe this team competition could maybe help him out of it. Getting around guys and maybe getting some confidence back playing with best ball and alternate shot stuff could definitely rejuvenate his game, no doubt about it.
I played with him in Akron. He did struggle a little bit, but he also hit some great shots. I think he just needs a little bit of a -- maybe a little break will help him. Playing a couple tournaments beforehand could definitely help get him kick-started. I'm definitely not going to underestimate him by any means. I think we're definitely going to get our games ready the best we can and try to play well.

Q. What's it like playing in an event like this with such a small field? You guys are teeing off much later than you normally would. What kind of adjustments does that mean?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, no adjustments, you're just a lot more excited. 70 players, no cut, play is usually a lot faster. Tee times are a lot nicer. You don't have early tee times or late tee times, they're kind of right in the middle. It's great. I think we're all excited about it, really.

Q. You played Firestone, PGA, off, three in a row, off next week, Presidents Cup. Is fatigue an issue, and can you tell when you're getting tired? Do you lose your temper quicker? Do you block shots to the right because you're not releasing? Any symptoms that you can tell when you're getting burned out because I think there's a lot of burned out players and caddies wandering around out there today.
HUNTER MAHAN: No question, no question. For me my tolerance goes down a little bit, patience goes down a little bit. See, you have to be aware of that, really. You have to be aware of that kind of stuff on the golf course and make sure when you do come to the golf course you get a lot done in a short amount of time.
This week we're kind of learning a new golf course, so it's a little different. Not usually, but sometimes you go to the same golf courses and you can take a couple days off and you can kind of relax a little bit because you know what to expect. But you're definitely right there, I think everyone is a little bit tired. I mean, it's just kind of stressful.
We were talking, I was with Jason Bohn in the morning, and he was playing last week, and he's like, I don't care where I am in the tournament; where am I in the FedExCup, because he was 77th. All right, we've got to make some birdies, we've got to get inside the top 70. It's definitely a little different out there, kind of looking at the leaderboard and stuff like that trying to figure out where you're going to be, seeing if you're going to be in Atlanta or not.

Q. Two leaderboards.
HUNTER MAHAN: Definitely, definitely. You definitely just want to get ready for Thursday and you want to kind of pace yourself and just make sure you're mentally prepared for every day. It's almost kind of like a major in that fashion, I guess, because you are a little tired. In the majors they kind of beat you up it seems like a little every day. Being patient with yourself and the golf course, for me just go out there and play golf and just try to have fun. Since I do feel like The Presidents Cup is kind of behind me now I can focus on this week and just play golf for one week.

Q. Will you hit more or less balls after rounds or before rounds than you would since you've played all these days in a row and you ought to be somewhat in a groove, try to conserve energy that type of thing?
HUNTER MAHAN: No question. You hit balls maybe to warm up, get some good feelings, hit a couple good shots, then you go out there and play. You try to hit a couple good swings, a couple good shots. Like tomorrow in the pro-am you're not going to be grinding out there, you're just going to be figuring out the course, try to see some good shots, try to feel a couple good things, then try to just kind of move on from that and get ready for Thursday.

Q. The last time the event was here it was two years ago, and it was the first year of the Playoff format. A lot of the players were saying that certain things will need to be tweaked in upcoming seasons. Just in terms of scheduling, how they worked the points and everything, do you like the way little changes have been played to the Playoff system since it first started?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think so. I think it's gotten better every year. It seems like looking at this year that higher finishes move you up a lot more, and it's kind of harder to move back. Then again, it's kind of harder to move up, too. I was kind of looking at it, you have to play really well to move up a lot. But that's good. You should have to play well to move up. This is the Playoffs, and this is the best of the best. You should have to play well to get in the Top 30. I think that's everyone's goal.
This being kind of the third week out of four, I think we're all kind of pacing ourselves and trying to be patient with it and just kind of forget all about that stuff and just try to play golf.

Q. Were you able to play any holes this morning?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, I'm going to play this afternoon.

Q. How did you get here from Boston, fly private or commercial or how did you go?
HUNTER MAHAN: I did fly private, yeah. I flew with Marquis Jet and flew with John Rollins and told my caddie to hop on and get over here as soon as we could because it is a short week. But in that fact I kind of like it because it is short, and boom, you're right in the action again. You don't have to wait. I think in that fact it is kind of nice.

Q. Did you leave Boston last night or this morning?
HUNTER MAHAN: Last night.

Q. It's like a baseball player, they traveling like that.
HUNTER MAHAN: I wouldn't want to travel on that schedule, no doubt about it. At least you have a week to kind of relax and get settled.

End of FastScripts

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