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June 24, 2012

Hunter Mahan


Q.  First out in the morning, you torched the golf course.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Well, the weather is perfect, greens are perfect.  Course is great.  I've been swinging it great all week.  I just got some putts to fall in and got a little momentum early and kind of rode the wave coming in.

Q.  You struck it beautifully.  16 greens in this final round, one with 26 putts.  And obviously you feel comfortable here, having been a former champion.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  It's a great course, great tournament.  Travelers does a great job.  Great field this week.  It's a fun place to play.  The fans are fantastic.  This week always gets me excited.

Q.  Obviously you found all the holes accessible out there.  Tell us about some hole locations that we might be looking out for as leaders come through in the afternoon.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  You just have to pay attention with your approach shots.  You have to lean towards one side of the pins.  You can definitely spin it off on some of these greens and leave yourself kind of an awkward shot.
There's some new pins, too.  Like third hole is way back.  I've never seen that pin.  11 is way back there, so you have to have good distance control today.  If you're off a little bit, you're going to leave yourself with a tough shot.

Q.  I don't think 10‑under is probably going to be enough to win but certainly enough to build momentum on for you going into the heart of the schedule in the summer.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  It was nice to get a good round in and make some putts and see some things that I've been working on work.
Like I said, the swing feels great.  There's a lot of good things happening right now and I just gotta keep working.

Q.  Tell me about what took place on the 18th hole.  David Finn, a handicap boy that John Wood, your caddie, wheeled up the 18th fairway.  I've never seen that before.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Well, we did it yesterday, but it didn't quite have the impact since we were 1‑under and no one was watching us.
But you know, gosh, we met him a long, long time ago.  You know, woods has been knowing his family for a while and I got to meet him kind of through Wood and everything.  And he's so aware, but he just can't do the things that he wants to do, but his folks do an incredible job of getting him out to so many TOUR events and he's a fun kid, and it's an opportunity that you couldn't pass up.

Q.  Great finish by you, by David and by John.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Thank you.

Q.  Well done.  Thank you very much.  No surprises this guy went low because he always goes low, but can't believe you didn't shoot 59.  What's up with that?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I got off to a slow start.  I hit some good shots.  I just couldn't get the putts to fall in early.  But I was swinging great all week.  Today I finally made some putts and got some momentum.

Q.  It really is remarkable.  You shoot 61 and you didn't make a birdie till the 6th hole?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Like I said, I hit some good shots.  The first few aren't some easy holes.  You got some water holes in there which is a nice mix on this golf course.  But finally got it going.  I felt, like I said, the swing's been great.  I just had to mix it in the hole.

Q.  Yeah, if you look at the stats and obviously you just played it but I'm looking it's like the longest putt you made was 20 feet.  It's not like you were making bombs out there to get this low number.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  It was good distance control on the irons.  The pins are kind of tough in some spots, so if you're a little bit off, you're going to leave yourself kind of an awkward chip.  But I had great distance control all day and the greens are so perfectly receptive right now.  They're not spinning back.  They're just kind of hitting and stopping.  And when you play at 8:30, first off in the morning, it's like that.

Q.  Let me change your role.  I want to make you an analyst.  Obviously you've won here and now you've played here this morning and put up this ridiculously low number.  So with the lead at 12 under to start the day, what do you think is going to be the winning score?
HUNTER MAHAN:  The conditions are good, the course is so good, I want to say 15.  14 can do it, but I would say 15 is a good number right now.

Q.  But whatever, it's going to be a lot of birdies out there?
HUNTER MAHAN:  You know, there's some tough ‑‑ if the greens get firm, you just have to be careful out there.  You can hit good shots and end up in some awkward spots.  There's some new pins this year that I haven't seen, so that might surprise some guys, but these guys are good out here, so they're going to make birdies.

Q.  That was one quick round.  Did you have somewhere to go?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Getting on this golf course was my kind of final objective this morning just to get out ‑‑ we were the first ones out there, so we had to play fast.  We're not going to hold up the field.  It shouldn't take long to play golf.

Q.  9‑under.  That's a pretty doggone good round.  How did it happen?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  I figured the lower I shoot, the faster we'll play, so that was kind of my (laughs) you know.  You know, I swung great all week and just didn't make any putts early on and kind of got frustrated, and today I just tried to go out there and play one shot at a time and trust what I'm doing because I feel like the game's all good.  It's all right there.  Made a lot of good swings, but I didn't have to make a ton of long putts.

Q.  Ten gets you where?  What do you think the winning score is going to be today?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I would think 14 or 15 is a good number.  There's a couple guys on No. 1, so I think they're going to be extremely focused and ready to play today.

Q.  You will probably solidify yourself as the leading money winner at this tournament.  Not too shabby.
HUNTER MAHAN:  That would be good.  That would be good.  That's always a good stat at any event.

Q.  Talk about David Finn and how you met him and your day with him?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, David's been coming.  He knows a lot of guys on the TOUR.  Not just me.  He's been coming out a long time to all kinds of different events and his folks do an incredible job of keeping him involved in the game of golf, and it's a great thing, and he's totally aware of what's going on.  He totally knew what a cool moment it was coming up on 18 and I gotta thank my caddie for that because that was really his idea.  And that's what's kind of neat about the PGA TOUR that we can have that fan interaction and give someone like that really kind of a dream come true.

Q.  You started out with five pars, I guess.  What clicked with you and when?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I just made pars.  Nothing clicked.  I was playing great.  I had a great first five holes.  I just didn't make any putts, you know.  And that's what it comes down to in golf is making putts because you can hit a lot of great shots but if you can't make the putt, it doesn't matter.  But you can roll them in from anywhere.  You know, you don't have to hit it great.  Golf's a funny game like that.  You just never know when you can get hot.

Q.  And when you're coming up to 18, a lot different than a few years ago, but can you talk about how much easier it is, since the pressure is off there to make a 25‑foot putt and were you feeling anything at all on 18?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I was just trying to ‑‑ you know, your adrenaline is pumping more than you are nervous because nothing really bad can happen.  I'm just trying to hit it close and make a putt.
And you know, I didn't have ‑‑ I didn't love what I saw.  I guess I had a hard time reading it, but then right before I kind of got comfortable with it and just hit it hard enough because it was kind of dying.

Q.  What about the putt at 17?  Was it tricky?  The 7‑footer.  Could have been 60.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  It was probably the hardest putt I had all day because it broke like two, three cups and it was only seven feet.  It was quick.  If I hit it too hard and it came low, it was going to go.  That's going to be a difficult hole for these guys this afternoon because you can hit a good shot and have a really, really tricky putt.  And like I said, that was kind of one of the more confusing putts I had all day.

Q.  In all your rounds of golf you've had, where does this rank in terms of your best round?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I mean it's up there.  I mean I hit it much better today and rolled it nice.  Had a good up and down on 4.  So you know, it's a good round, but you know, it's not ‑‑ I wouldn't classify it as like some great round.

Q.  Hunter, have you ever shot below 61 before?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  This is my lowest round ever.  Shot a couple of 62s here and next week at Congressional, but not lower than that.

Q.  First few days frustrating at all, because I think you birdied two of the last three to make the cut?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, it was infuriating, because like I said, I hit it great.  I just could not score.  Getting it up and down, making any kind of five‑footer was very difficult, and I didn't feel like I was hitting bad shots or bad putts or anything.  They just weren't going in.
So just kind of swinging around with the putter, trying to get comfortable with my grip or something.  Just try to feel good about something, and you know, I made a six‑footer yesterday on the last hole just to make it to today.  So you know, at that point you're kind of like, God, do I want to make this?  (Laughs).  Long day yesterday.

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