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February 24, 2012

Hunter Mahan


LAURA HILL:  We'd like to welcome Hunter Mahan to the interview.  A 1‑3 victory over Steve Stricker.  Talk us through how things went on for you out there today.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I knew Steve was a great player, wasn't going to get a lot of free business today.  I felt good with my game.  Irons, drive, everything, putting, chipping, just had a lot of confidence in it.  Boy, it's nice to get off to a good start and get ahead early.  Just played solid from there and made a nice little bomb on 12 there, nice birdie there.  That was a momentum changer.  So it was‑‑ I played really well tee‑to‑green, and very, very happy with the result and how I played.

Q.  Counting a couple of conceded putts, you've had‑‑ added up you birdied nine birdies out of 15 holes both days, 18 out of 30, talk about if you've had a run like that recently?
HUNTER MAHAN:  These greens are big.  They have a lot of slope.  They have a lot of kind of quadrants on them where these pins are.  John and I have done a great job figuring out the distance out here.  Distance control is everything.  Making sure you're landing in the right spot and getting the right bounce.  We've done a very good job of that and been very clear.  That's enabled me to make these solid, aggressive swings.  If you get it in the right place, you're going to have good‑looking putts and birdies.  You can be aggressive with them.  The greens are not super fast.  And you can reach a lot of par‑4s, andyou can reach all the par‑5s, and some sort par‑4s, if your wedge game and chipping is solid, which mine has been.  I've been able to get a lot of gimmes and stuff.  Being able to get around the par‑5s and short par‑4s, and being able to chip up there a few feet makes it a lot easier, and puts the pressure on your opponent now if he's got to make that 8‑ or 10‑footer.  It's good to be in the hole already.

Q.  Yesterday Tiger, I think, missed eight putts inside 15 feet, and following on to that you said you've been making a lot of putts.  What's the‑‑ what's the secret?  Have you found‑‑ are you looking more at the grain or the gravitational pull?  How have you figured out how to make these putts?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I switched putters this week to the Ping Nome, N‑o‑m‑e, no G, and it has a little‑‑ I was using likea putter with more offset.  This one has a little less offset and it's helping me aim better.  So basically I'm aiming where I think I'm supposed to be aiming.  Before I was aiming a little more left than I thought.  So I was kind of pushing my putts.  I wasn't just getting like a true roll and a true read.  Because I hit great last week, but I couldn't make anything.  So I switched putters this week, and I have just a lot of confidence where I'm starting the ball.  I think I'm starting it there and I'm hitting it right there.
I think out here there's a lot of grain and there's definitely that pull from the mountain all the way kind of to the valley over there.
But I think I've done a good job of reading the grain, but my speed has been really good.  On all my putts I've been able to hit, cozy it up to the hole.  And inside of 15 feet I've been able to be aggressive.  The greens aren't super fast.  If you hit it‑‑ even if you hit it three feet by, the greens are so pure, you're probably going to make most of those.  It's a combination of things, but sometimes it's just a sense‑‑ sometimes you have a good sense of the greens, and sometimes you don't.
Last week I had no sense of the greens and missed everything.  But for some reason this week I feel confident.  I feel confident whenever I get on the green I'm going to make it.  It's a good feeling to have right now.

Q.  What are you guys doing different than anybody else in terms of figuring out your distances?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Nothing.  We're just trying to pay attention to the morning till the afternoon times.  We've been morning the last couple of days.  As soon as it starts warming up, the ball goes farther.  We're just trying to pay attention to that.  We're not using any calculation of, you know, of being high or the altitude or anything like that.  We're doing a good job of writing all the numbers down and where it's landing.  And then it's kind of feel, trusting what I feel and what he feels, and making good, aggressive swings after that.

Q.  That's kind of what I was going to ask you, whether you were lopping 10 percent off at 2:00 in the afternoon or are you sort of freewheeling it or ‑‑ I was going to say something else, but I'll just say freewheel?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, just trying to pay attention and really studying how far the ball is going, and pay attention to other guys.  I kind of judge how Steve hit it and how far it's going.  The wind is not blowing hard, but it's kind of tricky.  It's just hard enough to where it makes you pay attention and make sure you don't hit it in the wrong spot.  I mean, you can hit a lot of good shots here and put yourself in very difficult positions to get up and down.  We've done a good job ‑‑ if we do miss the green, it's probably a pretty easy chip.  To be aggressive around here is a good thing.  You can leave yourself a lot of tough chips where you have to play very defensively and hit it ten feet and hope you make a par.

Q.  I was hoping you could give us a little background about the Golf Boys, how that came about and what the reaction has been.  Was it just something fun for you to do?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, it's been a while since I've talked about the Golf Boys.  But Bubba wanted to do a boy band, actually this week last year.  Ben Crane was kind of the catalyst, and he got everything set up and we did it.  It was pretty crazy.  The reaction has been incredible.  I mean, we had no idea it would become this big.  It shows us in a different light and we hope people enjoyed it.  We had a fun time making it.  It's been surprising the legs it's had, because it's ‑‑ I mean, you just asked me about it, and it's been almost a year.  It's been pretty incredible.

Q.  Will there be another song?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I don't know.  I don't know.

Q.  Americans won here just once out of the last six years.  Would you attribute that to maybe the parity in International golf has gotten better or maybe it's the format that you guys don't play very often?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I think International golf has gotten a lot better.  I mean, we're out numbered; we're not the majority here.  And it's‑‑ I don't think the odds are in our favor for us to win.  It's 23 out of 64 year.
I don't know if it's format or anything.  I think‑‑ when it comes down to match play, it comes down to who's going to play the best.  I think we all enjoy playing match play because it's fun.  It's just one hole.  It's just one shot.  If you miss it and screw it up and hit it in the desert, you pick it up and move on to the next hole.  I don't know if that favors anybody.  I think good putters have won here.  I don't know if that means we're not good putters.
But it's an interesting course because it seems like bombers would eat it up.  But it hasn't been the case.  So it's been kind of surprising in a way.  It seems like good shot makers and good putters have won here, especially on this golf course.  I don't know what it is.  I know that David Toms won one year and had a good stretch here, but I think International golf is a lot better.
Kids that are 12 years old and have an unbelievable swing.  These kids are unbelievable.  19, 20, just awesome.  International golf is probably at an all time high right now.

Q.  I'm curious about the time you went head‑to‑head with Steve who you know and respect very well, fellow American, how does that translate, all of that, going into the match, to the match?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I think it makes it easier.  I know Steve, I know how he plays.  I know his tempo, I know how long it's going to take for him to hit it.  I think it's harder when you don't know somebody and don't know how they play, if they're fast or slow.  I think it's awkward to get a rhythm amongst yourself.  And I thought we did‑‑ it was easy to get a rhythm.  We were just playing not against each other, but with each other.
I think it's easier because we both want to win, there's not going to be any hard feelings after the round.  But same case with Zach.  It was easy to kind of get in a rhythm and just go play and see who the better player is that day.

Q.  After your first round match here, you had quite a long session with Sean.  Was there anything that you worked on that you felt like you weren't doing correctly or what was the genesis of that?  Secondly, talk about Kuch.  Have you played much with him and what challenges he'll bring?
HUNTER MAHAN:  After the first round, I was a little bit off.  For some reason I didn't have the energy near the end that I needed.  I knew what I was doing.  But we went through some drills to kind of work on, just to kind of get the right feelings throughout the golf swing.  I wasn't far off, because I had a great last week, been great all year.  I knew it wasn't far off.  It was getting right feels and getting that contact better, you know.  For me it's driving, hitting the ball and making a divot.  It sounds simple, when I make the divot, the impression of the ball is so much nicer, the ball goes higher, the control is better.  Just doing a few drills and getting that feel back.
With Kuch, like Steve, great putter.  Just has a great sense about him.  Never seems to get that angry on the golf course, just kind of ho‑hums it and he just kind of laughs and smiles while he's stepping on your card, so it's pretty funny to be around a guy like that.  He's great to be around.  I've played with him a bunch, so same kind of vibe as Zach.  Steve, I know we'll have a great rhythm and time out there.

Q.  You're not going to play ping‑pong?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I'd definitely lose.

Q.  Given the way you've played the last few days, how much confidence will you take into tomorrow's match?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I feel great.  I feel great from every aspect of my game, which is nice.  My short game, my putting and irons and everything.  I feel very comfortable with everything.  I feel good with this golf course.  I feel like every day we play here is learning a little bit more about how each hole plays.  Really looking forward to it.  And just have to keep doing what I'm doing and trusting it and really enjoy my time out there because it's nice to be playing this well, for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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