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February 1, 2012

Hunter Mahan


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Hunter, thank you for joining us.  Welcome to the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Thank you.

MICHAEL GIBBONS:  How are you feeling?  How was your journey over here?
HUNTER MAHAN:  It was good.  Good journey.  Wasn't really too bad.  I feel as good as to be expected, I guess, and excited to kind of get things going a little bit, so yeah, should be a good day and a good week.

MICHAEL GIBBONS:  What are your thoughts on the week?  Having a good start to the season last week at Torrey, tied sixth, I think?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Played pretty well last week.  I've had six, seven weeks off, so you always feel good about your game, but you're never quite sure how things actually stack up until you actually play in competition.  So it was good to get out there and excited for this week.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thank you.  Do we have any questions for Hunter?

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No.¬† I don't.¬† I don't.¬† It's almost 12 hours or 13 hours from where I was, so with the flight and everything, I didn't think that I needed ‑‑ it was pretty easy travel really getting over here, so got pretty good night's sleep.¬† And I think that's the most important the first night.¬† So I feel pretty good about it.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Does it have a name?  I wasn't aware it had a name.  I'm not sure.

Q.  Maybe talk about why you decided to play Qatar and also how your game is right now after Torrey Pines.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  My game feels good.  Like I said, I felt like I had a good off season, I guess, had about six weeks off, and I thought I put some good work in, trying to work on my weaknesses and everything, and trying to get my putting and short game as good as I could, and you really don't know until you're put into tournament pressure and situations, and I thought I held up really nice, and game feels good.
I guess this is really the ‑‑ I traveled to Paris probably, I mean, six, seven years ago.¬† So this is really I feel like my first experience playing during the year out on the PGA TOUR season.¬† So it's something I wanted to do, and just looking for the right opportunity, and this came about, and I felt like playing here was the right fit, and very thankful for Commercialbank to give me the opportunity.¬† And I've heard great things about playing in Qatar from fellow players, so this was a good fit really in the year to kind of test my game abroad and very excited to really have the opportunity to be here.

Q.  We're expecting to get a lot of wind the next couple days.  Are you a good wind player?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I feel like ball striking is a strength of mine.  And I feel like I can kind of play in any conditions with the way I hit it.  Yeah, I saw the forecast looks pretty windy.  I expected that coming in here watching a little bit of Abu Dhabi last week.  Looked like it kind of blows in this area.
I guess, like I said, it seems like this is comparable to Miami, Doral, and I faired pretty well there before, so I'm looking forward to the chance to play, because I do feel like my game can travel over here.

Q.  Coming here to Qatar, a lot of your fellow Americans are more and more going oversees.  Do you see yourself that you're becoming more of a global player?  Is that something that you want to add to your schedule if you can?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  It's going to be difficult because I feel like the PGA TOUR is my TOUR, and I'm going to play there.  I don't have any plans in the near future to join the European Tour and play two tours.  That seems like a lot, and I'm pretty impressed with how guys do it, Luke Donald and Cameron plays a lot.  I don't know if he's joined both tours, but guys play a lot on both tours, and I'm impressed with how well they play overseas, and I think it is part of the game now to travel and to play everywhere.
I don't know.  I feel like you have to learn sometime to kind of do it and the more you do it, I guess you get better at it.  So I was excited about this opportunity, but I do feel like golf is global now, especially with the European Tour having the top four players in the world.  They've got a lot of star fields, and most PGA TOUR events we haven't really seen anything like this in a long time.  So I think it benefits players to travel a little bit and kind of see the world and see some new golf.  So it's pretty exciting.

Q.  Steve Stricker flew over last year.  He said he felt a bit out of his comfort zone.  I was just wondering how you felt about that.  Have you talked to Stricker or how do you feel stepping into a new experience?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, no doubt.¬† It's different on the PGA TOUR, the same courses you see every year, same hotels.¬† Everything is very methodical, routine like on TOUR since you've done it for ‑‑ I mean Steve's done it for a long time.¬† I've done it for seven, eight years now.¬† It is out of your comfort zone, but I feel like that's going to make you a better player in the long run.
I think it's somewhat beneficial, I think, to be an American player coming over here because it's not all about golf.¬† I think you're trying to experience some of the culture, too, and so when we're not playing, we're trying to ‑‑ I know my wife and caddie, we're trying to go to Souq and go see the desert and try to do different things to kind of take our mind off of golf for a little bit and enjoy the culture.¬† And I feel like that kind of relaxes you a little bit and kind of gets you away from golf since the PGA TOUR season starts so early and you're in it already.
So I really enjoy the opportunity to kind of travel and see different parts of the world; and when it's time to play golf, it's time to play golf.  But like I said, getting out of your comfort zone is kind of a good thing, kind of makes you forced to focus and bear down a little bit and make sure you're doing what you need to do to prepare for the week.

Q.  Graeme McDowell is here this week.  You guys had the famous match in the Ryder Cup.  Have you played against him since that match, or will that kind of add some spice to the week, especially if you guys are in the hunt on Sunday?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Actually it was pretty funny, we played the first event on the PGA TOUR at Hyundai together, so we got it out of the way real quick.
But you know, it's ‑‑ I don't know, I like Graeme a lot.¬† I've known him since college basically.¬† He's a great guy.¬† It's hard to dislike him.¬† I don't really have any ill feelings toward the guy or anything like that.
The Ryder Cup is a great competition.  It's a lot of fun.  It really brings out the competitive nature in everybody that you don't really see on most weeks, because you just don't have that kind of fire you usually have.
But it won't really add any spice.  I look forward to playing with him, and I see that Branden Grace is kind of reading the Race to Dubai already, so it should be a fun two days.  I'm excited I get to play with somebody I know really.
So it'll be a lot of fun.  There won't be any extra spice or anything.  Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to rekindle that later this year, but for right now it's going to be just having a good time with it.

Q.  Are you flying back to Pebble next week?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I am, yeah.

Q.  Because you finished well there last year.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  I'm going to go back to Pebble.

Q.  You're not worried that all the travel might affect you?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Actually, it may.¬† I don't know.¬† But I'd rather experience it than wonder about it, you know.¬† And this is a part of ‑‑ I feel like this is kind of a part of golf nowadays, to travel, to go around, and my job is to figure out the best way to handle it, and how to get the right amount of rest and the right amount of practice, too.
That's my kind of, I don't know, that's my opportunity to kind of figure that out and try and figure out how I'm going to do both.  But I don't see that being a problem, because luckily I have played well there.  I know the courses, so I don't have to learn anything.  I just have to get my body and my game kind of in the right frame of mind.  So could be a challenge, but you know, it's a challenge I look forward to really.

Q.  (Indiscernible).
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Exactly.  It's early in the year.  I've only played one event, so I shouldn't be that tired.

Q.  Just on travel business, so you flew from where and how long was the flight?  When did you arrive?
HUNTER MAHAN:  We flew from San Diego direct to London and then London to Qatar.

Q.  So how long was it combined?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† It was ‑‑ the flight from San Diego to London was like a blur.¬† Felt like it was only a couple hours because I watched a movie and I was out, and I woke up in London.¬† And I'm guessing it was a ten‑hour flight.¬† I think that sounds about right.

Q.  You arrived when?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† We arrived ‑‑ that's a good question.¬† I don't know.¬† We arrived around 3 in the afternoon, London time.¬† No, to here?¬† I would say we arrived around 3 in London.¬† Our flight left around 8:30 that night, and then we got here 6 a.m., 6 a.m.

Q.  How are you feeling now in terms of the jet lag and all that?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I feel pretty good.  You know, it's going to be a full day today, so that's going to be good.  I'm glad to get out and play a round and stuff.  And should be pretty tired tonight and get a good night's sleep, and luckily I don't have to play really early Thursday.  That's going to benefit me.  But I feel fine.  I don't think I'll have really any problems getting going in the mornings or anything like that.

Q.  We were talking about Robert Rock winning in Abu Dhabi last week.  (Indiscernible)?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  No question.  No question.  He's a throwback to the 70s and maybe the 80s, but mostly the 70s and 60s and stuff when guys want to wear hats.  I need sunglasses at the bear minimum to kind of walk around during the day, so to not have a hat on would be challenging for me.  So it's impressive not to wear a hat.
He's got a good head of hair.¬† I'll give him that.¬† (Laughs).¬† I mean he's got a great haircut, so he's a good‑looking man.¬† He can rock it for sure.¬† Some guys can't, but he definitely can.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Hunter, good luck.  Cheers.

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