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June 29, 2012

Hunter Mahan


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  We'd like to welcome the leader in the clubhouse Hunter Mahan, great round today, 6‑under par 65, maybe just some opening comments.  Obviously a great, fantastic day for you and most likely leading heading into the weekend.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, played well.  I mean, I hit a lot of good shots.  It wasn't like hard round, I guess.  I hit so many fairways and greens, I made it easy on myself.  This is a pretty punishing golf course, if you get off line a little bit, and swinging well, hit a lot of good shots.  I put myself in some great spots to make putts and had a good‑‑ I felt like I played well on the back when it was getting really hot and you're getting a little bit more tired and kind of was able to bear down and stay focused and put as much effort as I could into each shot.  Really proud of the up‑and‑down on 17.  That was the only one loose iron I hit all day.  That was nice to get that up‑and‑down.  The up tee is on 18 today, I only hit a sand wedge in to make birdie.  That was a nice finish, getting the last three holes.

Q.  You said yesterday that when it gets physical and you have to kind of grind it out, it becomes a mental test, as well.  Are you good in those situations normally?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I think so.  Golf is a challenge in itself, and when the conditions and the weather comes into play, it's a whole 'nother factor.  I've got to stay mentally‑‑ once your mind goes, the body is going to go with it.  It's very important to be mentally strong.
That's why these guys work out all the time and try to keep our bodies in shape for days like this when it tough out there and it beats you down and stuff.  We've got two more days of this, so it's going to be important to take care of yourself every night and every day when you're out on the golf course, or it's going to cost you shots.

Q.  Can you compare how you hit the ball today compared to yesterday?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, pretty similar.  Probably hit it a little bit better today.  I hit a ton of fairways and got the driver I've been using for a while and it's got a lot of pop to it.  With this golf course there's some‑‑ reachable par‑5 on the front there, to hit the fairway, you've got a chance to get up there and make an easy birdie, which is nice, and took advantage of that today.  Made some really nice putts today, had some good looks, and yeah, it feels good to kind of capitalize on all the opportunities I've had.  I played really good on Thursday, just didn't make anything.  But today I hit a nice‑‑ I probably had better looks today and had a couple short ones.  Hit it really close on 1 and 4, basically almost tapped in.  That's a huge bonus on this course.

Q.  As a follow‑up how would you compare this given the conditions with the 62?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Well, I still give the edge to the 62 in '09 being on Sunday and kind of have the‑‑ kind of posting the lead in the clubhouse, so that was good.  But today, I mean, this day was a good round.  It was tough out there.  The course was difficult.  It's in phenomenal shape.  I mean, the rough is just thick enough to where it's penalizing.  The greens are hard enough where they're going to bounce and you've got to pay attention.  But they're not‑‑ I don't think they're unfair yet.  And the speed of the greens is just phenomenal.  They're really not super fast but they are very, very fast.

Q.  What do you remember about your feelings after shooting 62, ending up losing by one, and then do you come away frustrated or just very satisfied with the score, or do you look at it as I like this golf course, I can play well here whenever I come back?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I really enjoy playing here.  This is a fun‑‑ this is a great test.  You know, I feel like it's not unfair.  I think it gives you birdie opportunities.  You just have to take advantage.
You know, it's a great change to make the old 17 into 18 now.  I think 10 is a good hole.  I like everything about this golf course, and it's in phenomenal shape.  They've done a great job this year.
And I was excited when I shot 62.  I thought that was a heck of a round.  I really tried to stay ready for if there was a playoff, but I wasn't disappointed at all that I lost by one.  It was a lot better position than what I started the day at.  Not at all frustrated, was very proud of how I played.

Q.  Talk about your par on 14.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  The pin was kind of tucked right over the mound there.  There was a big backstop there and we were just short of the green.  It was one of those where my caddie Wood said you can almost try to make this thing twice, on the way forward and on the way back.  So I just tried to make sure I got it there.  I wanted to hit it, and I didn't hit it pure, I hit it a little thin.  But we knew hitting it short was kind of useless.  We wanted to get it there, and it rode up the slope and came right back down to the hole.  It's nice the pin was there.

Q.  Is that how you had it drawn up in your head?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, not quite.  I expected to hit it a little bit cleaner off the club face, but that's how you shoot 65, get good breaks like that.

Q.  You knew you could get away with‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, we knew hitting it short was just going to be silly, we were just going to kick ourselves for hitting it short.  All I did if I hit it long, it was just going to come back to the hole.  We knew we had that kind of break right there, so might as well‑‑ didn't try it hit it that hard, but got a good break right there for sure.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  If we can go through your round real quick.  Let's go through your birdies and one bogey, I think.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, hit driver off 1 today and hit a wedge to a couple feet.
Bogey on 2.  Pretty difficult hole with 240 something into there.  Hit it in the right bunker and actually hit a good putt, just missed out.
Hit a 7‑iron on 4 to a couple feet, kind of hit long and came back off the slope.
Two‑putt birdie on 6, hit driver, 5‑iron into there.
Hit 3‑wood, just a nice L‑wedge on 8, hit it to probably five or six feet.
Made a good birdie on 9, hit a good drive down there, kind of an awkward yardage, hit kind of a hybrid into the right bunker but didn't have much and made a nice 10‑footer for birdie there.
Two‑putt birdie on 16.  Hit a hybrid into there, then driver, sand wedge on 18 to 10 feet.  Davis helped me out with the read there.

Q.  John Daly shot 68 at Southern Hills in heat like this drinking Diet Cokes all the way around. If you would've done that today, you would've shot?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I think I would have passed out.  I would not have completed the round.  I would not have completed the round.  I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, so I don't know how that would have gone.  The Diet Cokes, I just can't imagine how your body would feel.  I think my body would shut down is probably what would happen.

Q.  Did you hear any tales of caddies struggling or players struggling?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, Chris Couch.  We were curious about what was going on up there, and then my wife told me that he called the‑‑ I don't know if it was the paramedics or somebody out there to kind of take a look at him.  I mean, it can be dangerous out there.  If you don't take care of yourself a little bit from the night before and during the day, it's going to catch up with you and it's going to hit you hard.  I heard one caddie was struggling out there.  Carrying the bag today, I can't imagine.  I can't imagine.

Q.  Given what the conditions are likely to be like over the weekend, what do you think seems like a reasonable winning score, maybe right where you're sitting right now?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, beginning the week we thought double digits was going to be awesome.  If you got to double digits you were going to be pretty excited, and it seems like it's kind of on that pace and it might fall a little bit short I'm guessing.  This is a tough place to play, and definitely the back nine, there's not a whole lot of‑‑ you don't get a whole lot of wedges in your hand like you do on the front nine.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Hunter Mahan, thank you.

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