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May 2, 2012

Hunter Mahan


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:¬† Hunter Mahan, thanks for joining us here.¬† Had a couple weeks off since the Masters.¬† Only two‑time winner on TOUR this year, year of the FedExCup.¬† A couple comments about great first part of the year and now getting into another part of the year.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, started off well and looking forward to this next stretch.  Got some great tournaments at quality courses, and the U.S. Open is going to be here in a month and a half.  Time to get going from a game perspective, and at the same time the summer is going to be busy, so we've got to prepare and stay rested and make sure we've got the right amount of strength and work to put a good stretch coming up.

Q.  Everywhere you guys go you get treated well at all the tournaments.  Is there anything that they do either specifically different here or better, particularly good, compared to other tournaments, and that includes with the wives, the families and all that, caddies?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah.¬† This is definitely a tournament that‑‑ it's probably one of the best if not the best reputation for treating caddies, for treating players, for treating wives.¬† It's a first‑class golf course.¬† It's major worthy, incredible facilities.¬† Kym does an incredible job really running a great event and makes it kind of easy on everybody.¬† We have valet driving up with the cars, and they've really thought of everything.¬† They've done their due diligence on making this a first‑tier event.¬† You can tell by the field.¬† It's an incredible field.
You know, I mean, it's just a nice place to come to.  I think all the players really enjoy coming here.  You're going to get a great practice facility, it's going to be in awesome shape, and the course is just second to none.
I don't know if it's anything they do, they just do it well.

Q.  You've won on some pretty big courses, big layouts, Firestone, that sort of place.  Do you prefer those kinds of layouts as opposed to the shorter tracks like Heritage?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I don't really prefer any golf courses or anything like that.  I think I'm a good driver of the ball, good iron player, so I think long courses I can play well just because I hit a lot of fairways and greens.  I go stretches where I don't make many bogeys and just put the ball in play.  I think long courses, courses that are tougher I seem to play well at, like Firestone.  But like a lot of courses, I play well at courses like Travelers, TPC up there.
This is a challenging golf course from tee to green, but like I said, all the players really enjoy coming here because the course is really in phenomenal shop every time.  But it doesn't really matter the golf course, it's just hitting the right golf shots.

Q.¬† Following up on that question, I know you said you haven't played Olympic but it's going to be a different kind of Open than last year.¬† It's not that long, actually a lot of doglegs, a lot of trees.¬† How much will that affect‑‑ how different do you think it will be given those circumstances?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, if it's not very long, then it's not going to be a U.S. Open because they try to tip it out as far as they can on every hole.  SanFrancisco is probably going to be pretty soft I would guess.  It gets a bit gloomy during the summer, so I don't know if it's going to be hard or fast.  I would assume it's going to be a little bit on the softer side.
But like any U.S. Open you've got to put the ball in play and you've got it put it in the fairways, whether it's a driver off the tee or a 3‑wood or whatever, it's hard to play from the rough and win.
I still think the same things are going to be important, playing a major and definitely playing a U.S. Open.  You've got to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and from there you've got to putt well.

Q.  One of the defenses of Olympic is the fairways are very sloped as you probably have heard.
HUNTER MAHAN:  I've heard that, yeah.

Q.¬† How much of a factor‑‑ can you kind of give us a pro's perspective on how much that increases the challenges or affects play?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, it's going to be a difficult challenge, especially I don't know how the fairways run in conjunction with the holes.¬† I don't know if it's right‑to‑left slope on a left‑to‑right dogleg.

Q.  There are several like that, yeah.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, it's really going to be‑‑ there's going to be probably a lot of different ways to play the golf course.¬† I think some guys might be more aggressive off the tee and give themselves some better angles into holes.¬† Some guys might hit a lot of irons off the tee and just put the ball in play.¬† So I think it's going to be a lot different types of strategies you're going to see.
But like I said, the players will figure that out for themselves.  But like I said, it depends on the conditions.  If it gets hard and fast it's going to be very difficult to hit the fairways if they're sloped like that but it's kind of gloomier and muddier then it's going to be easier.

Q.  They call it the toughest test in golf.  What is your favorite moment that defines why it's the toughest test in golf, just a moment that kind of defines what the tournament is supposed to be?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I mean, probably at‑‑ where did Angel win?¬† Oakmont.¬† I remember 13‑over, I think I was top 20 there, finished 12th or something.¬† I remember I just‑‑ it was just incredible to just hit the green.¬† It was such a huge victory.¬† It was just like, God, we are on the green.¬† But then even getting on the green, the greens are so hard and fast, you're just lagging.¬† You've got ten‑footers and you're lagging them up there and trying to get pars and move on.¬† Birdie felt like an eagle.¬† It was just so tough.¬† Everything about it was hard.
I remember the fairways had a lot of slope on them from going downhill to uphill, from left to right.¬† It was just‑‑ I can't really think of a moment.
I remember Tiger hit a good tee shot on 18, and I think he had a pretty good iron shot in there, and I'm like, there's no way he's going to make this putt, there's no way.  It felt like he could have hit 100 balls and I didn't think he was going to make it because it was just so hard.  There was so many mounds.  I remember watching him, like I would bet a million dollars he was not going to make it, and for Tiger to not make a putt when it mattered at that time was unheard of.  I thought that was pretty crazy.  That was just unbelievable.

Q.  Do you enjoy stuff like that?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† You enjoy it until you start going the other way, and then it just becomes a nightmare.¬† Some of it just becomes laughable because you can only do what you can do.¬† You can only hit the shot you can try to hit, and if it ends up‑‑ where it ends up is kind of not up to you.¬† It's kind of where your mindset is going into that week.¬† You've really got to prepare yourself to really realize that this is going to be hard and you're making a lot of birdies, you're going to make some mistakes, and it's all about where you miss it more than it is how good a shots you hit.

Q.  Were you at Shinnecock?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No.¬† Watering the greens on the golf course says it all there.¬† That was just a minor mess‑up there.¬† I can't imagine just wondering‑‑ I mean, it has to be some sort of‑‑ the course is changing throughout when you're playing.¬† If you're the group behind somebody who's watering it you're going to have a good break, and if you're not, then you're probably not going to hit the green and make bogey or double.

Q.  Do you think the USGA is going to be more motivated than ever to try to punish you guys and make it tough in light of what happened last year?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I don't know why they should.  Because someone plays great doesn't mean the course was set up wrong or anything like that.  The guy played phenomenal and you tip your hat to him and say he was better than everybody else.
But other than that, it was a great tournament.¬† It was a great‑‑ it was tight up there.¬† It was kind of like Tiger when he destroyed the field at Pebble.¬† I mean, other than him, it was great.¬† It was a great tournament.

Q.  Well, a lot of guys were under par last year.  When Tiger won he was the only guy under par.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I know, but there was a ton of guys that jumped up there around 10 or something like that. ¬†But I don't think so.¬† I mean, that's just‑‑ that seems the wrong way to look at it.¬† You should just make the course as difficult as you can but playable and fair to where under par is a great round.¬† 80 shouldn't really‑‑ like I said, Oakmont was ridiculous and Shinnecock was ridiculous.¬† You don't want over par to win.¬† It seems kind of crazy, I think.

Q.  Just a question about next week.  How many balls do you typically carry starting a round?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Probably double digits, 10 or 11.

Q.  Do you do anything different for next week?  I only ask that because the 12 that Tway made that year on 17.  I wonder if guys put more balls in the bag.
HUNTER MAHAN:  It's not a bad idea because you've got 16, 17 and 18, you can make a mess of three holes and you've still got a couple holes with water but not many after that.  Those holes can get quite expensive and challenging.  I don't think so, though.  We usually don't use that many balls in general, so we should be fine, I hope.

Q.  Did you in your time off here in the last couple weeks go out and pitch at Arlington?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, I did that right after the Masters, came home and did it.¬† There was a couple guys‑‑ it was pretty neat.¬† There was a couple people that did it.¬† It's a pretty cool thing to do.

Q.  Did you get a uniform top out of it, jersey?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I got a uniform top and a hat.  I wanted a hat more than anything else.

Q.  You could buy one.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, I can get one for free.  I went in the room back there and there was like 2,000 of them.  I was like, help a brother out here.  Just toss one to me.  I didn't have a Ranger hat, so I wanted purposely not to buy one because I figured if they see me not wearing one they might just toss one to me, so they did, which was nice of them.

Q.  Shouldn't you be an Angels fan?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I'm not a baseball fan in general.  I'm not going to jump any bandwagon or anything like that.  But since Wood is such a big Giants fan, I definitely cheer for the Giants for sure, but the Rangers are playing well now, so might as well cheer for them.

Q.  Who did you meet on the team?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.  We went in the clubhouse.  Great guys, really nice guys.

Q.  Did they know who you were?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, yeah.¬† Josh Hamilton had no idea who I was.¬† It was great, after he hit batting practice, he goes, so what tournament did you play?¬† I was like, the Masters.¬† You've got to love the guy, he had no idea what the Masters was or ever heard of it.¬† I mean, he was just‑‑ he was so funny.

Q.¬† The only two par‑5s in the Open are going to be 16 and 17, and that's the only real scoring stretch.¬† How strange is that for a player, to have the only two par‑5s at the back end like that?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, that's super rare.  Obviously that really never happens.  Where did Phil win?  Baltusrol, yeah, 17 and 18 is a nice finish.  So you always have that in the back of your head to maybe have a strong finish, and that's going to be a beautiful finish for TV and everything, and on Sunday, it's going to be one of those where a lot can happen near the end.  It could be a battle of attrition and mental stamina that week to battle and keep battling because you can absolutely make a couple birdies down the stretch and salvage a round or make up some ground quickly.

Q.  Your death bane, you hit the flagstick, hit it too good on the last couple holes.  Do you get enough out of that?  Were the conditions there analogous enough to the typical U.S. Open where you can come out of there feeling, hey, I can do this, or was it too wet to really be applicable?  Do you know what I mean?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I don't know what you mean.
There were ‑‑ I felt like it was a U.S. Open because the rough was long, course was tough, but it was still fun to‑‑ still a fun course to play because you could make some birdies on it, and it had kind of an interesting finishing hole with 18 being‑‑ the last day was like 300 yards or something like that.¬† But it was‑‑ I thought so.
You can tell when you're at a U.S. Open, it has that feel and has a cool look to it because all the fairways are tighter and they're really defined in how they move.  So it looks cool.

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