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August 8, 2010

Hunter Mahan


LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Hunter Mahan, 2010 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational winner. We were just joking that he hasn't been in all week. This is how you like to do it, sneak up from behind, shoot 64 and win the tournament.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I guess it's better to be late than never. Yeah, it feels good. I played -- obviously I got better each day and then came out today and -- played great yesterday, and I think I had a good round in me, I just didn't know how it was going to go. I thought Sean was playing great early. Ryan was playing great. So it was a great test.

Q. Can you talk about 16?
HUNTER MAHAN: Made a 5, I guess. (Laughter.)
You know, they put the tees up, which was good. It made the hole -- kind of what happened there is what you want to happen in a sense. It's no fun playing off the tips, so I just pushed it, but probably a little bit of adrenaline, and it just flew and it went in that bush, and they said it was all cart path, so it was pretty easy really, pretty easy drop and everything. I got out of there with a 5. I knew if I just parred the last two I would have at least two shots with the last three to go. Yeah, it was going to be -- I knew I could do it, but definitely better off with a two-shot lead than a one-shot lead.

Q. When did you get engaged, and did that kind of -- I mean, it's a good thing obviously, sort of a life-changing deal, but is it possible that that sort of contributed to the little bit of a flat spot you've had over the last month or two, a few missed cuts in there that I normally wouldn't expect to see?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's been interesting. I mean, it's been good. She's only been good for me. But everything has kind of happened pretty fast, so it's different. Different is not bad, it's always been good, but it's energy that's -- a year ago the only thing I worried about was playing golf. That's it. I really didn't worry about anything else.
And now come to start my family and we're doing a bunch of stuff right now and we did a bunch of wedding stuff last week. A lot is kind of changing. It's all for the better, and each day I feel like I'm understanding it better and adjusting to it better.
You know, it's kind of -- for us it's about communication and compromise and everything, and it's been nothing but awesome.

Q. Did you do anything special on the proposal, weird, notable?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, didn't do anything weird. She didn't want anything weird. Very simple, just me and her, and we did it at Pebble Beach, which was nice. One of my favorite spots, and she likes it, too. It was just a nice evening with us.

Q. Open week?
HUNTER MAHAN: It was, yeah. It was Saturday before.

Q. What did you hit in on 16 from the fairway?
HUNTER MAHAN: We hit a 5-wood. It was a little hybrid. Practice round it maybe just trickles over, but final round kind of situation, I got a little pumped up, pushed it right, and it just sailed and went far. I was thinking back there, I'm like, boy, this is really not a terrible spot to be if you're just long. The worst spot to be is short. If I hit it left I've got a bunch of green, if I hit it right I've got a bunch of green. I did not count on hitting it right and long and into a bush.

Q. When you were walking up there, did you have any idea where it was?
HUNTER MAHAN: One of the TV guys said it was in a bush, in a flower bed, and I was thinking where the heck is a flower bed up there because I had no idea where. I was curious. I was like boy, I have no idea where this is. There's stands behind and stands to the right. I'm like, gosh, I have no idea where we're going to drop this, this could take forever. It ended up being pretty quick. It was one drop, and it actually ended up being pretty easy.

Q. There's a pretty big carrot dangling out there for you in another way. According to the numbers crunching, you will move up to No. 2 in Ryder Cup points and you will finally make a team without having to wait for a phone call. How does that hit you?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's great. It's kind of weird to say, I just want to make it on my own, but anyway you make the Ryder Cup team, it's great, it really is. But I felt -- my game was good enough to make it on my own, and that was a goal of mine this year. I was in it early and kind of been falling slowly but surely out of it, but last couple weeks the game has been good. I knew it was there. I knew I just had to keep going and keep trusting it.
This weekend I definitely just kind of let everything go and just had some fun. There's a lot to think about right now with the FedEx and Ryder Cup going on this week, but I'm pretty proud of how I played. I handled all the stuff that was going on inside my head on the outside.

Q. What happened to you this summer?
HUNTER MAHAN: What happened? I just didn't play very good. It was kind of ugly there. Swing got a little out of whack. You know, there was a lot going on in a good way, you know, with getting engaged and kind of having a serious, serious girlfriend and everything. It was all good, it was all positive, it was all fun. We were having a great time, but it was energy going another place.
Like I said, I've only worried about golf for the past 27 years of my life, and to think about somebody else and what kind of -- their feelings and stuff was just different. It's an adjustment period. I think like anyone knows, when you get married or anything, it's an adjustment period, and that's kind of what we went through. But she's only been for the better, so it's -- it's been a weird year as it is.
I've had two wins this year and I've missed six cuts, and I didn't miss one last year. I don't know how this game works, I'm just trying to figure it out as I go.

Q. When exactly did you get engaged?
HUNTER MAHAN: Pebble, Saturday before Pebble.

Q. Which Pebble?

Q. Did you miss the cut or make the cut?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, it was before.

Q. Not the Saturday of.
HUNTER MAHAN: I would have definitely not done it if I missed the cut. Yeah, I did it beforehand and got it out of the way. Didn't want to leave it up to that.

Q. You're not the kind of guy who just lets her plan all the wedding stuff?
HUNTER MAHAN: I always thought I would be, but no. I was -- if I hated something, I'm like, I don't like that at all. But I'm going to keep my mouth shut until she asked me. If she loved it, then she loved it. That's all I need.

Q. What does this win mean to you different from your other wins?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, obviously to win any time on the PGA TOUR is great, but an event like this, 80 of the best players in the world, this definitely means -- it's something special. This is a great, great tournament. Bridgestone does an incredible job. This course is immaculate. Every time we come here it's just like a major.
The course is perfect, rough, fast greens, and like I said, this is one of the bigger tournaments we play all year. This is a world golf event. All the players all over the world come here to play, and it's definitely the best win of my career for sure. And it's probably the coolest trophy we get, too. That thing is pretty cool.

Q. Is the feeling the same afterwards whether it's Phoenix or Akron? The thrill of victory so to speak?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I mean, to win is -- to be No. 1 is the best feeling in the world. To do it when you have to, when you're kind of behind and you need to do something special and to do it when you need it, to make putts like I needed to, it feels great. But I'll look back on it maybe tomorrow and really realize what kind of what happened and what I did, and it'll sink in a little bit more.

Q. Did you ever think you'd beat Tiger by 30?
HUNTER MAHAN: I would say no (laughing). I never, ever thought that would be possible. It never crossed my mind. It's definitely different.

Q. Do you feel like he should be on the Ryder Cup team?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes. I mean, you know, he'll find his game, I have no doubt about that. I think he's going through a lot right now, and I think you don't realize how much outside of golf stuff affects golf. Even though we don't want to think it because we're out here playing, that has nothing to do with it, it does. It really, really does.
You know, when he gets back in a routine and he kind of finds himself and finds his situation, he'll be fine. But I think he needs the Ryder Cup right now, really. I think he wants to be in that setting, and I know -- he always gets kind of a hard -- nobody thinks he's a great teammate, but he speaks up when he needs to. He's a great guy to talk to, and he's usually very open.

Q. You kind of threw your head back when you climbed to second in Ryder Cup points. Did that kind of take you by surprise?
HUNTER MAHAN: It did. I was hoping I would secure a spot. I didn't think I'd jump to second, but it's kind of been a funny year. It's going to be a different team from years past. I know Jeff Overton is on the team. I mean, gosh, that team is -- he finished sixth. The guy is playing phenomenal golf right now. Then you've got Dustin Johnson. It's going to be a different team. It's going to be interesting.

Q. When you were standing over your second shot on 16, when you're looking at it, did you consider any other options?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, we thought it was -- to hit a 3-iron from there seemed a long ways. We didn't really want to lay up.

Q. You had a two-shot lead.

Q. Two holes to play. If you make par there --
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, the thing was there was no out of bounds anywhere that we could see, and we just -- only place you couldn't hit it was short, obviously. If I hit it right over the pin into the bleachers, it's probably going to hit and come back and I'm going to drop it there, got a ton of green to work with. Hit a little bit left, there was really nothing over there left.
There's just not a bad spot to be except exactly where I hit it, and luckily a bush stopped it because if it didn't, who knows where it would have ended up. So it just didn't -- I mean, I'm looking at the shot, I'm just like, there's really not a bad spot to hit this except short. I found a different spot than I was looking (laughter.) We were going up there going, I have no idea where this is, do you? He said, "it's not in my book, so we'll see."

Q. One more thing about Tiger on the team, do you think the team atmosphere would do him good?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think for sure. People don't think he's a team kind of guy, but he's -- he'll definitely be a great team member for sure. You just never know when he can just kind of get it going, a little momentum on his side. I mean, he's still No. 1, I think, so he's still a dangerous guy. He's a good team member, he really is.

Q. What's your fiancé's name and how long have you known her and where did you meet her?
HUNTER MAHAN: Her name is Kandi Harris, and since December.

Q. Quick?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah (makes frightened face). (Laughter).
People say when you know, you know. I'm always like, that's crazy talk. But we had a great connection. She's just the best. I mean, she just brings out the best in me, so that's all I can ask for.

Q. Does she know anything about golf?

Q. Did she know who you were?
HUNTER MAHAN: Not really. Her sister married Jason Enloe, who plays on the Nationwide Tour, and Jason uses kneel Smith, my sports psychologist, so we just kind of met up through that. Yeah, so it's been good ever since really.

Q. Did John Rollins have any role in this at all?

Q. He was just telling stories about you, I'm sorry.
HUNTER MAHAN: No, we spend a bunch of time with them. They live pretty close to me. But no, he didn't have anything to do with us meeting.
LAURA HILL: The wedding date is?

Q. Not during SBS or anything, right?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, it'll be the weekend of Sony, Saturday during Sony.
LAURA HILL: Thank you so much, and congratulations. Good luck next week.

End of FastScripts

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