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March 9, 2010
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Hunter Mahan, fresh off your win a couple of weeks ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, maybe a couple of opening comments about coming back to play here at Doral, the CA Championship, your fourth time at this event.
HUNTER MAHAN: Obviously the course looks fantastic. Great to be here. Excited to have a crack at it this it week. Game feels good so I'm excited to play here, and it's a great field, as usual, so it should be a great week.
Q. Have you throttled it down off the tee this year because of the grooves, the emphasis they thought would be playing out of the fairway? Have you backed it down and hit more 3-woods or changed your philosophy at all so far?
HUNTER MAHAN: No. When I heard about the groove thing, I thought it was kind of good for me, since I've been a good driver for most of my career. I thought it could help me if anything. No, I've just been playing my game, and obviously trying to hit more fairways, obviously, but I haven't really changed too much.
Q. Is there anybody out there that you've noticed playing more cautiously?
HUNTER MAHAN: Being on the West Coast so far, it's been pretty soft, so I don't think guys have paid attention to it. Maybe in the summer, you may see guys adjust their games, maybe try to hit more fairways, because you definitely cannot spin out of rough.
Q. You said that you wanted to focus more on winning and that great players win. How did that change your approach? How do you go about trying to win more?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, I don't think I've changed my approach or anything. I think great players are defined by number of wins, and that's just the way it is. Great players find a way to win. I'm just trying to find a way to just get more out of each round and put myself in contention more and hopefully win.
Last week, I hit it great but I felt like I was mentally better than I was last year. I just didn't let one shot affect me in any way. I went out and tried to focus on the good stuff I was doing, don't worry about the bad stuff and keep playing golf. Obviously a good result in Phoenix. I haven't really tried to focus on it. I just wanted to let it happen more than anything else.
Q. You going to go to Shanghai this year?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think so, yeah. I realized today that I was actually in that event.
Q. Took you two weeks to realize that?
HUNTER MAHAN: It did, yeah.
Q. Do you like the idea of going overseas and do you think these should travel more often, beyond American shores, the World Golf Championships?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, they are World Golf Championships, so it makes sense for us to move around a little bit. I think China is a great place for us to go to right now. The market is so good over there. I mean, there's so many great courses and places all over the world that we could go see. So I would definitely be in favor of travelling the world and playing tournaments wherever we can. I mean, golf is a global game, so any time we can kind of spread our wings and play all over, I think it's great for the game and great for everyone.
Q. You've been to New Zealand?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes.
Q. Where else?
HUNTER MAHAN: I've been to Japan. Went to Australia. I think that's it.
Q. South Africa last year?
HUNTER MAHAN: South Africa, yeah.
Q. Has Foley ever dropped any of his quotes on you and left you standing there going, "What is that supposed to mean?" And "How do I take that?" Those head-scratchers he likes to throw at people sometimes?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think he can make it as simple as he wants and as you want and he can make it as complex as you want. I think it totally depends on the player. I think he does a great job on teaching every one of us differently. But usually the same stuff seems to apply every single week. So it's very interesting how he can tell us something one week and then tell us something different, but it's pretty much the same thing. I think that's the sign of a great teacher is when he can adjust what he says, but still get you to do the same thing. Because we all feel different things, and one week we could feel, you need to get your arms lower on the way back or turn more or something, but he's so good at explaining things to us differently but getting the same result out of it.
But he can definitely go on tangents of who knows what. He's a very smart guy, so we had a good conversation and it's just fun talking to him.
Q. You were second guy on the roster, Ames was first and you jumped in a year and a half ago I want to say?
HUNTER MAHAN: O'Hair was second. I saw Sean working with him and stuff like that. Heard good reports from him about short game, so I started doing short game with him and then we went to the full game. I like what he teaches and I like the results that he gets from the players. It's important for me to figure out, okay, how do these guys swing, what are the results and what do they do well and what don't they do well.
When you see a guy pretty consistent and his swing looks good and hits it solid, it's hard not to pay attention to that.
Q. Would it be fair to, characterize your second win as a relief? Took you a while to get there maybe in your own mind; was it a big sigh that you pulled it off?
HUNTER MAHAN: For sure. People say, after you win, flood gates open or something like that, so I had high expectations for myself to win a bunch but just didn't happen. I was still playing well. I don't think I had down years by any means.
I think it's important to focus on winning, but you can't think about it on Thursday the first tee shot. It's still a process and it takes four days to win. So I was probably pressing maybe for a couple of years, but I think at Tiger's tournament in D.C., AT&T. I was just worrying about playing golf. I knew I was playing well and I knew I was hitting it great. I just wasn't get thing the results the first couple of tournaments, so went out and started to let it happen and have fun and play golf. It just went my way.
Q. With these limited field events, there's fewer than 70 guys in the field this week; do you think these events are easier to win just because of the numbers? And second question is, who do you like as the man to beat this week, Phil, having won here; Camilo, hot, obviously, having finished second here; or yourself with your record on this course?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, obviously it's interesting playing only 64 guys. There's no cut and you know it's going to be a long week and you don't have to grind it out and everything.
I don't know if it's easier, but you know, a few less guys to beat, no question. But they are all great players, too. I mean, this is a very, very strong field, so I don't think it is any easier. You still have to play well. You still have to beat a lot of great players. So, no, I don't think it's easier.
Obviously Phil, I think Phil really wants to win bad. I don't know how he's playing or how he's hitting or anything like that, but I'm sure he's excited to be here. He's had great success here. I think he's definitely the man to beat this week.
Camilo is playing great obviously. But I feel great about my game right now. I love what I'm doing. I feel like I'm in control of my game and understanding why it's good. I think that's the most important for me is to understand why my game is so good. So if it does go off, I can fix it.
Q. You made three straight international Cup teams via phone call; I'm just wondering whether you want to make it on your own number this year, if that's a priority?
HUNTER MAHAN: For sure. You know, obviously I want to play well this year, win. Hopefully win multiple times.
But no question, make the team on my own merit. I feel like I've had success the last three, but to make the team would be nice, you know, to just kind of not worry about it, not having to worry about the last few weeks or anything like that. That would be great and that definitely mean a lot to me.
Q. Do you feel different in the team room when you're a guy that was kind of added on the write-in ballot at all? Are there guys that fought their way in and guys that got a get out of jail free card -- it's hard to envision that there would be --
HUNTER MAHAN: Maybe the first year I was a little -- first team event, Jack Nicklaus event, I was pretty nervous and I don't think I gelled as well as I did the last two years. Definitely the last two years it was easy and I never thought about that. I think everyone earns their right to the team their own way, through past Ryder Cups or past Presidents Cups or something, you've worked hard to make it. I don't think anybody looks at anyone differently. I think we are all comfortable with one another and I think we all trust each other; that we are going to go and play well.
Q. Hunter, young guys under 30 have had a nice little run, Justin Johnson, Bill Haas, Camilo, yourself; do you pay attention to that? Is there a competition where the younger guys are spurring each other on or wanting to be the next young guy?
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, I think it's just kind of evolution of the game. Freddie is going to the Champions Tour, Davis is going there pretty soon, Calc, guys who have won a bunch of times on the TOUR, they are moving on and younger guys are coming up.
I think we all want to be -- I think we are just trying to be as good as we can be really. I don't think there's really any competition. Before you know it, you're going to be in your 30s and it's going to be like, well, you're not as young anymore. Sometimes I forget how old I am. It's just interesting that I've been on TOUR this long.
But I think there might be a little competition amongst ourselves, probably within ourselves that we don't want the other guys to win more than us. But it's a friendly competition at least that makes it better. I think the competition is great for the TOUR and it's great for golf, people to go out there and watch young guys win. And I think it's great that guys like Fred Couples and Kenny Perry have won the last few years. Freddie, there's no doubt he's going to win on the PGA TOUR, I feel pretty strongly about that but then you have a guy like Kenny Perry you saw in the last couple years has been ridiculously good; and Steve Stricker, best player in the world right now is already in his 40s. As good as those young players are right now, those guys in their 40s are pretty awesome.
Q. You mentioned earlier in Phoenix, you tried to not worry about the bad stuff, you wanted to keep playing golf, is that something that you have to really work on yourself with?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely was trying to perfect. I thought guys that win, you had to play perfect golf, which is definitely not the case. You just have to play better than everybody else. I know through my experiences that the more I tried, the harder I tried to be perfect, it just does not work out well. I just have to go out there and play golf and have fun and adjust. If I'm doing something wrong, I have to figure it out and just do it and try to do better. But perfection is never going to happen and you just have to be happy with where you are and how you're doing that day and just figure it out.
Q. Is that something that maybe talking about the guys under 30 that guys that have realized when they get to this level?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think so. I think you just have to go out there -- definitely when it comes to big tournaments, not stress on about how you are hitting it or one shot. I definitely see that in kind of more mature players like Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, they don't worry about stuff and keep playing and they know they will figure it out and they know their game is good. They know they will hit on the right track. You never see them panic. I never see them panic or lose their focus and just kind of keep swinging and keep going and keep moving forward and they will eventually figure it out.
Q. Talking to your caddie outside, a little bit about the grooves, and he was saying how he doesn't really think that to this point in the season, it's made much of a difference but when you get to players like maybe here with the bermuda and particularly Augusta it might make a big difference; do you see that, and why?
HUNTER MAHAN: It may have, conditions getting firmer and faster coming to Florida. Coming to Augusta, it could definitely firm up, and if it does, it's going to play a little bit of difference.
You may see guys I think laying up shorter on par 5s, leaving themselves forward shots so they can spin it more. I just think guys have to pay attention to where they hit it. They are just not going to rip it up there and see it and find it and hit it again. You might have 20-yard shot but you might have nothing because of what you have and you may not be able to put that much spin on it. It's definitely going to affect us in the next few months more than it has on the West Coast. The West Coast has been pretty soft.
Q. As one of the younger guys out here, do you sense any difference in the atmosphere at a WGC over a Bay Hill or Memorial or a tournament like that?
HUNTER MAHAN: Not really. I mean, these events are just -- half the players, so it's way more quiet. I mean, it's definitely more international field it seems like. So you may not recognize as many guys as you normally do.
But other than that, no, you just play golf. It's a lot more quiet and it's weird, seems like it's Monday but actually a Tuesday. More peaceful really out here.
Q. What did you do to celebrate after the win? Buy a car? Relax?
HUNTER MAHAN: We had a nice dinner. Jonathan Rollins was still there, good friends of mine, had dinner with a few of the PING guys that came out from Phoenix and Scottsdale and had dinner there, chilled out with a couple of good bottles of wine and had a good time. Tried to enjoy and then went home, took it easy. Had not been home for a while so it was nice. Had dinner with some friends and stuff like that. No, I haven't really bought anything or done anything like that. Just kind of taking it easy.
Q. Give us details on what a nice dinner is.
HUNTER MAHAN: What a nice dinner is? Well, it started out with a nice appetizer of crab and shrimp.
HUNTER MAHAN: Restaurant. Ocean Maestro's Ocean Club in Scottsdale right there.
Q. Nothing says ocean Club Like Scottsdale. Seafood capital.
HUNTER MAHAN: Exactly. It's the seafood capital of the West Coast. (Laughter).
I'm a big seafood guy so we had lobster and shrimp and crab and all that stuff, and had a nice steak, very nice. Mac and cheese; that's a must I think after a win. (Laughter) Had a nice bottle of wine. John Rollins, he's a good wine guy so picked some good bottles, so that's delicious.
Q. Tough to match up mac and cheese and wine, in Scottsdale?
HUNTER MAHAN: In Scottsdale, exactly. You don't know Scottsdale like I know Scottsdale I guess. But it was -- and then if you go to the Ocean Club; the butter club is phenomenal, I would not pass up on that. I'm a dessert guy; that was definitely the best part of the meal.
Q. So if you had finished third you would have just gone to In 'N out?
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably, yeah. Could have hopped on the plane, hopped on American Airlines, probably would have tasted just as good.
Q. Red or white with mac and cheese?
HUNTER MAHAN: I think, well, I usually go red. I'm not a big white guy. I go red, though. I think the spiciness brings out some of the flavors in the cheese. (Laughter) I mean, if you have good cheese in there, you can get some gorgonzola or something like that, some hearty cheese that has a lot of flavor, it's just in your mouth, it's just a vacation. (Laughter) don't be shy. Don't be shy.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts