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January 4, 2006

Sean O'Hair


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Sean O'Hair, thanks for joining us, your first time in Maui at the Mercedes Championships. Got to be a nice start to the season after a great rookie year. PGA TOUR Rookie-of-the-Year and also winner of the John Deere Classic. Opening comments about what you did in the off-season and about this week.

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, the off-season was pretty dull actually. Just kind of moved into our new home that we moved into after the Byron. Had seven weeks off. Six of them I didn't touch a club. Just kind of hung out, enjoyed the family, just kind of relaxed a little bit. Got that bug again, I'm ready to go.

It's nice to be here. You can't start any better than Hawaii. Pretty fired up about these next couple weeks and this year.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: When is the last time you spent maybe six weeks without touching a club?

SEAN O'HAIR: I can't remember. I can't remember. I've always been a guy that plays a lot, practices a lot. It was nice because, you know, I think last year kind of took a toll on me a little bit, especially at the end of the year. I got sick late, 84 Lumber I got sick, was sick for about a month. Kind of struggled to finish off the year. It was nice to take a break, stay home, get healthy again.

I hit the gym pretty hard this winter, trying to get a little bit stronger, a little bit better endurance. I feel a lot better.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: As far as being named Rookie-of-the-Year, what exactly did that mean to you?

SEAN O'HAIR: It's great. You're only a rookie once. To have the honor of saying that you're the best rookie the year you were a rookie is pretty cool. There's some pretty good names on that list. I hope to keep up the good play on that list.

It's an honor. It's obviously something I dreamed about ever since I was a kid. You can't start your career off any better, I don't think. I'm pretty fired up about that.


Q. As you reflect back on the last 12 months, where you were in the world rankings this time a year ago, where you were when you finished your Rookie-of-the-Year season, do you still pinch yourself and think this is incredible or was the self-belief always there?

SEAN O'HAIR: I believed in myself that I was going to be out here, I was going to hopefully be a fairly decent player. I didn't think it was going to come so quickly. So, yeah, I am still pinching myself a little bit because a year ago I was just getting done with the Q School, getting ready for Sony.

I do pinch myself. But, too, I also think to myself that this is what I've worked so hard for. We're here. Might as well enjoy it and try to get better.

Q. Having had such a great 2005, have you set goals for yourself this year? How realistic are those goals?

SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, you know, I've set some goals - more process-oriented goals than result-oriented. I'm more of the type of person that likes to focus on the process rather than the outcome. I've got some goals as far as short game. I want to work on my short game and get it a little bit sharper. I struggled a little bit with my lie putting last year. I want to get a little bit sharper with that.

You know, I worked a little bit on my swing during the winter just in the house, swinging in the house a little bit here and there. Nothing intense. You know, I think I'm going to hit the ball probably a little bit further this year than I did last year, which is obviously the benefit of working in the gym. I just want to get a little more consistent.

I think last year, if you noticed, I made most of my money in just a few events, and I think this year I'd like to be a little bit more consistent, you know, put myself in contention more and more often and more consistently.

But I think if I work on my short game, get the lie putting where I want it, I should have a pretty good year.

Q. Did you get ahold of Michelle Wie yet to have a practice round?

SEAN O'HAIR: No. We have a practice round I believe Tuesday of next week. I'm looking forward to that. I've met her once or twice. She seems to be a very nice young lady. I look forward to playing with her. She's obviously a great, great player.

Q. Could be fun, too?

SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it should be a lot of fun. Should be a lot of fun. I think Led is going to follow around a watch a little bit. That would be good. Maybe she can show me a few things here and there, go from there.

Q. She's pretty popular over there.

SEAN O'HAIR: I tell you what, you know, there's just a few people who, no matter how bad or how good they're playing, they've got all the people watching. That's Tiger, obviously, John Daly, and Michelle Wie. Doesn't matter how bad they're playing, doesn't matter how good they're playing, the whole hole is just lined with people. She's pretty popular.

Q. How did you feel last year at the Sony, being your first event after getting your tour card?

SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, it was actually my first PGA TOUR event ever. I was actually surprisingly calm. I did feel a little out of place, but I felt pretty comfortable for the situation I was in. I think my exact words -- my first words for my first PGA TOUR event was, "Holy crap, I just saw Ernie Els." That was pretty cool (laughter).

You know, it was a good experience. I made my first cut, which obviously was a good feeling. I actually played halfway decent for the first two days, and didn't have a good weekend. Made the first cut. It just was, you know, a good start to a good year.

Q. Did you ever think about at that point being here at this tournament?

SEAN O'HAIR: No, no, no.

Q. Wishful thinking?

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, obviously you think about it. You think about winning all four majors in your rookie year. That would be nice (smiling).

You know, I couldn't honestly tell you that I expected to be here. I don't even think during THE TOUR Championship not too long ago, I wasn't even thinking about being here at the Mercedes. It's like what he said, I feel like sometimes I got to pinch myself.

But, you know, like I've said, we've worked hard, and I guess the hard work's paid off. I plan on working harder and improving. Hopefully this is the first of many Mercedes Championships for me.

Q. Only the one full year on the PGA TOUR, some of your peers applaud your mental toughness. Would you say that's one of your strongest assets in the game?

SEAN O'HAIR: I think I've put myself, and I was put into some pretty tough situations, and I didn't really have a choice of, you know, if I could deal with it or not. I mean, I had to deal with it. I think that made me a little bit more tougher mentally.

But, I mean, I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's kind of my case a little bit. I went through some pretty difficult times, turning pro at 17, struggling for as many years as I did following the Nationwide Monday qualifiers for three years, finally started playing mini tour golf when I was 20. From then on, it just kind of went up from there.

Whenever you throw somebody, especially a young kid, into the lowest level where anybody will slit your throat for whatever, I mean, you're going to get toughened up a little bit whether you like it or not.

I think it's helped me in a lot of different ways. Number one, obviously I think I can deal with things a little bit easier than if I was to have gone to college and had it a little bit easier. And, two, I think it helps me to appreciate being here 'cause I know what it's like not being here, and I don't ever want to be in that situation again.

It's helped me in a lot of regards. That's one of the reasons why I work so hard is because, you know, I just don't want to be back there.


End of FastScripts.

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