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March 11, 2011

Hunter Mahan


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Hunter Mahan into the interview room after a 1-under par 71 today, Hunter sits at 9-under par through two rounds. Hunter, not quite as many birdies out there today, but still a good round.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, thanks. Obviously the wind from this morning was kind of changing the course a little bit, but it got a little softer out there throughout the day. The course is still in good shape. Played pretty well. I hit a lot of good shots. Just didn't finish as strong as I would have hoped. But pretty happy with where I am.
JOHN BUSH: A couple of bogeys coming in. Take us through those.
RYO ISHIKAWA: 14, I just didn't hit a great approach and I had a long putt and 3-putted. I think it was my only 3-putt so far.
16, just kind of pulled the driver, hit a tree and kicked it backwards, kind of stuck. Had to pitch out into the front bunker and didn't hit a great bunker shot and was kind of a sloppy hole.

Q. When you look at, you've played obviously the first round was really good, second round mostly very good, and there's Martin Kaymer; the guy seems to not give anyone any breathing space. He seems to be like there every week. Are you aware of that? He obviously is the No. 1 player in the word, but are you guys within the locker room looking at that guy and going, wow, he's pretty good.
HUNTER MAHAN: It's been quite impressive, his run. He's just been playing amazing. Obviously I played with him in the Match Play. He seems mentally tough and I think that's what separates him, and he's a great putter.
But he's playing great. I mean, it's been pretty impressive because he's not just playing great. He's actually winning and that's what sets the good players and great players apart; the fact that he's playing great and winning golf tournaments. He's not just up there every week.

Q. You've been a pretty fast starter, there's been a number of tournaments where you've gone low in that first round, and it's slowly gotten away a little bit, I think one win out of the six starts you've had the lead after the first round; have you looked at that as you've -- is that something you study and kind of figure, okay, why is this happening and how do I keep the MoJo going, so to speak?
HUNTER MAHAN: No. I have no idea. I think when I won Hartford, I had a good round the first round and hung on.
Phoenix, I was pretty much bottom, just made the cut, and won.
And then Bridgestone, slow started and played well on the weekend. I haven't ever really thought about that, but you know, just got to go play on the weekend. Everything's good right now. I just have to go trust it and you know, it's 36 holes left, so it's not -- it's hard to sit there and think that, well, I should finish; I should be in contention on Sunday.
Half the tournament is already over. There's a long way to go. It's just weird how sometimes you have good starts and poor finishes, and poor starts and good finishes. You just never know what's going to happen. You just have to be on your toes and that's why everybody keeps working. This game is unforgiving and you always have to keep working. You can't think you've figured anything out.

Q. Obviously the wind strength died down. Did the direction change today at all? Did you have to go to a different line or anything?
HUNTER MAHAN: No. It was very consistent all day. There was only like maybe one or two holes where it's kind of really important to get the wind. I think maybe 13, the par 3, you're kind of -- seems like it could be helping or hurting but it's very, very right-to-left. It was very consistent today.

Q. Just following on from Mark's question, when you start out well, is it just more of a grind mentally to be in the lead, four rounds? And I know you've had -- you were saying, some of your wins on Sunday, you have a great round, but you didn't have to grind yourself into a nub for three days; is it more difficult to stay on the top of the leaderboard and then you are still there Sunday afternoon?
HUNTER MAHAN: Statistically, it seems like it is. I don't know how many guys win from being the -- it would be interesting to see. I don't know what the stats are on someone who is maybe top three or Top-5 after the first day, and then what they finish on Sunday.
There's so much golf in between there; to think that you are just going to all of a sudden keep playing that good the whole time, I don't even know if that's possible because you are just going to have your little dips and valleys.
It's extremely hard to do that when you are up there the whole time. I don't know how many guys who lead on Thursday and then win the tournament; I wouldn't think there be maybe one a year, some guy does that. It just doesn't happen very often. It's not easy to be in the lead every single day.

Q. There used to be a guy called Tiger that did that a lot. One of the things about being with Sean, you started with Sean to work on your short game?

Q. Tiger is remaking his short game along the sort of lines of the technique of the long game that he's learning now. As a pro, do you appreciate how much work goes into it? The guy was already pretty good at the short game and now he's going to do it to match his full swing. Do you appreciate like how many steps backwards you have to go to ultimately go forward?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, that's the thing with Tiger. I think when he -- with Butch and Hank and Sean, he's all-in. He's 100 percent in. It's not like he takes it steps by steps and works things in. I think he just dives right in and tackles everything, everything that they want to do. And that's why I think it takes him a little bit -- that's why he has maybe a drop a little bit on his consistency out on the golf course. Because he'll hit a couple of great shots where it really clicks in and all of a sudden he'll lose it, because I think he's just so into the swing, and that's my guess on what he's doing, but I know he's very, very committed to Sean and all of his teachers he's had.
He doesn't really care about the result because he knows the long-term success is going to be there. Mentally, that's tough to do, because that's a lot of criticism from a lot of people. But he doesn't care. He believes in it and he's going to grind his way at it. It's impressive.

Q. Do you think he'll be back?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I think he'll be -- everything he's ever done in the game, I don't think he's ever doubted himself in the game. I think he has the right teacher and the work, he works harder than anybody else, so that won't be a problem. He just has to kind of find his groove again.
JOHN BUSH: Hunter, thank you and play well this weekend.

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