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July 10, 2005

Sean O'Hair


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Making his 18th start on the PGA TOUR, Sean O'Hair, the circuit's youngest rookie, just one day short of your 23rd birthday you win your first PGA TOUR title here at the John Deere Classic, becoming the 17th player in the 35 year history of this event to earn their maiden PGA TOUR victory, and I looked it up, and you played your last 60 holes of the tournament without a bogey and only had three for the week. Congratulations.

SEAN O'HAIR: Thank you. Thank you very much. Just a phenomenal week this week obviously.

I really wouldn't have thought this. I was completely lost. I don't think I've felt this lost coming into this week as I did, I gee, Monday, and I just had really no clue what I was going to do as far as swing thoughts or how I'm going to get the ball in the hole. I was so desperate, I went to a Borders down the road from my hotel to get a couple Jack Nicklaus books, "Golf My Way" and "My Golden Lessons," and I was just reading it, and I really like how he plays, and I was just kind of looking through it, and I got an idea.

Thursday morning I woke up and was trying it in the hotel room, and I tried it on the range before I went and played on Thursday and was hitting the ball great and just hit the ball probably the best I've ever hit it.

One day the way I hit it this week would have been great, and all four days out did one another. I think today out did all the rest of the days, but every single day I hit the ball better than I ever have. And it just I don't know, it was just unbelievable.

It's an honor, definitely, to have this my first win. John Deere did a great job with this week, especially with the families, and it's definitely an honor for this tournament to be my first win.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you just give us a couple thoughts about the round? You went through and obviously didn't make any bogeys and made six birdies. Take us through the round hole by hole.

SEAN O'HAIR: Sure. Today obviously didn't have any bogeys, but 1, pretty much straightforward tee shot and was actually sitting in divot and made a pretty good pass at it and gave myself about a 25 footer and lipped out. And I knew then something was feeling right. I felt good about today.

I birdied the 2nd hole, hit a great drive, thinned my 3 iron in there but missed it really well and had about a 35 footer for eagle. It felt makeable, and I think I just missed it and tapped in for birdie. So that was a good start.

3 was when I really knew that it could happen today. I stiffed it from I hit a 6 iron from I think 194 yards and knocked it to about three feet and made the putt.

Do you want me to just go through my birdies?

PHIL STAMBAUGH: If you could.

SEAN O'HAIR: 8, I hit a great drive, thought it was going to go in the bunker on the left but stayed in there and had about 98 yards to the pin, and didn't hit a great pitch shot but was the right distance, just a little bit left, about 15 feet, and made the putt. It kind of did a 360 in there, so that was kind of cool.

10 was a really tough hole for me this week. I didn't feel comfortable going for it in two at all this week, and I made pars, almost bogeyed it twice, but made pars on the previous three days, and today I decided I bombed a drive and just decided to hit a 4 iron into the bunker and was just a perfect shot. It kind of was just fated out of the bunker and let the hill take it and run it right to the pin. So I think that was a good play on my caddie's part, slash father in law (laughter).

14 was huge. I saw that, I think, going into the hole. I don't know who was 15, but somebody was 15 and I was 14, and then I saw right before I hit my putt that everybody was at 14. That was the lead. I really wanted to take the lead and kind of make a statement with everybody else and just kind of let everybody know that I was there, and fortunately I made the putt. My caddie made a great read and I was kind of lost on that putt, so kudos to you.

Q. How long was the putt?

SEAN O'HAIR: What, 15 feet?

But that was big. And then the next two holes, 15, I had a very makeable putt for birdie. It was kind of tricky, but I actually hit a great putt. I don't know how that didn't go in the hole. And then made par there.

16, obviously that's a hole that you don't want to I think that was a keyhole last year. Somebody hit it in the junk. So I definitely wanted to just take my par and get out of there, so I made a good club decision there.

17 was a lot of fun. I hit a great drive. It didn't bounce left like I thought it would but luckily stayed in the fairway but I had an awkward lie in the fairway. The ball was, I don't know, a few inches above my feet, and so I was trying to not fat it, I was trying to stay tall and thinned it with a 4 iron from about I think it was 215 to the front. And I think 240 something to the pin, and I was just trying to hit it to the front of the green and let it run up to the pin.

Luckily it caught the bunker because if it doesn't catch the bunker, it's in the collection area and then there's no way, unless you make a putt, that you make birdie from down there. And it was pretty straightforward bunker shot. It was on the up slope, the ball was a little bit above my feet, which I had to be careful with, but I just was trying to get a feel with it, took a couple back swings when I stood over it and just felt good and darn near went in the hole, I think. So that was a lot of fun. That was big.

But 18, especially a guy in my situation who never won before, you're definitely almost puking (laughter). But my hands were so sweaty, I was more concerned about keeping my hands dry than anything. But I actually hit a pretty good tee ball, but I got underneath it just a hair, and on a normal hole I don't call that a normal hole because that's kind of a hard hole. But that would have been in the fairway. And it just kind of peeled out to the right on me a little bit, and I was very lucky that I had the lie that I did. I had a pretty straightforward punch shot, just didn't pick the right club. I was in between a 6 and a 5, and I just wanted to stay underneath the tree, and if I stay underneath the tree it runs up on the green. I stayed with the 6 and it upshot on me and hit the tree and almost went in the water. So that was lucky.

The up and down on 18 was pretty special. I mean, I don't know, my short game is not the best part of my game, especially right now, and to make that up and down, if I was a spectator I would have given myself 1 out of 20 tries to make that up and down, especially under that pressure.

The chip was kind of tricky, I was on a hazard line but the ball was out of the hazard, and it was kind of a tricky lie because it was basically a baseball swing with an 8 iron. I just wanted to get it on the green and actually hit a hook a little bit so it runs back there, and just the speed was perfect and left myself an uphill putt. It was kind of a tricky putt because I think this week you have some putts that look like they're not going to break and then they do break, and then you've got putts that look like they're going to break and then they don't break, so that was kind of a commitment deal where I just said, "Well, what do you like," to my caddie, Steve, and he said, "This is where I like it," and we went with it and made it.

So that was the best round of my life right there.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Sean had one bogey in his last 60 holes.

Q. Are you surprised by all this or were you feeling really confident out there or did you build confidence as you were going along?

SEAN O'HAIR: I think this year, the way the year has gone, I've felt very I feel very comfortable out here, and that's kind of been the case for a while now. I think at the very beginning of the year I was a little bit obviously I wasn't comfortable, but now I'm comfortable playing out here, and then once I had the Byron finish, I kind of proved to myself that, you know what, I think I am good enough to compete.

I think ever since the Byron I've been a little bit hard on myself. I've been expecting a little too much as far as results. I've been hitting the ball not great but so so and just unfortunately haven't been able to close the deal on the weekends.

Coming into this week, though, watching the Western killed me confidence wise. I didn't feel comfortable with my swing, and like I said, I just was lost going into this tournament. You can ask Steve. We were practicing when were we practicing, Wednesday? I probably hit 20 balls, and I said, "I've got to get out of here." Every single ball I hit, I got less confident.

So we left, and I just was searching for some things and I clicked and started hitting the ball well. I think Thursday was the only questionable day, and when I hit the ball like I did on the front nine on my first round, I knew that I got something. It wasn't just something that was going to hold me over, a Band Aid for the day. It was something that was probably going to take me through the week. So it just got better and better and better. My confidence going into this event was probably the lowest it could be, and then the confidence going into today was pretty good. I felt like if I hit the ball the way I did and some putts fell, I had a chance.

I guess the answer is it kind of went on, the confidence.

Q. What was the swing key that you got from Nicklaus?

SEAN O'HAIR: That's a secret (laughter).

Q. It's in a book.

SEAN O'HAIR: My swing problem is I'm very loose as far as my arms with my body, especially on my back swing. But I don't think the main problem is my back swing, I think the main problem is the start of my down swing. I tend to lunge I guess my legs to the target and get in a reverse C and the club gets stuck and it either pushes hit 30 yard pushes or hooks off the planet. And the contact is never good, and it hasn't been good for a month. It's always on the toe or on the heel or whatever.

When I was a kid, I focused more on just arm swing from the thought, so that was my swing thought, just swing the arms past the body. I've never hit so many good shots as far as just contact in the center of the face, and I drove the ball unbelievable this week. I hit it farther and I hit it straighter than I ever have. It just was one of those lucky things where you figure it out. And very rarely do I figure it out on my own. I've got to depend on other people to help me out.

I was asking some other players about how to fix it, and they had their ideas, and it just wasn't working out for me, and so I just decided to try to find something myself and fortunately I did.

Q. That was kind of my question. I just wondered what it was that was in the Nicklaus books that sort of triggered that.

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I was just looking at pictures really, just pictures of his swing. I just don't like in my opinion I don't like the way some players are going with their swings out here. I think they're going a little too flat. For my taste, I like the Nicklaus plane. He's a little bit more upright and a little more free swinging it looks like. It doesn't look like it's so tight, and I'm kind of that type of player, and it just works out for me.

Another player is Ben Hogan, which is the exact opposite of Nicklaus, it works for them. I just was looking at pictures and seeing what his body looks like in certain positions and I just was fooling around in the hotel room and trying different thoughts that I've had in the past and came upon one and just it worked.

Q. You mentioned the Byron Nelson. You had the lead heading into Sunday at that tournament.


Q. What was different this time around being five back to start?

SEAN O'HAIR: Definitely there wasn't as much pressure going into today because no one there wasn't any of this obviously. I don't think anybody talked to me at all about contending really this week. In a way that's obviously good and in a way that's bad.

But Byron, I don't think I choked, I just got beat. Ted Purdy had a phenomenal round, and just today, people weren't expecting me to do anything, so the pressure of that wasn't there. I think you can just kind of go about doing your business, really, which was nice. So there was a little less pressure, I think, going into today, yes.

Q. Are your intentions to thank Jack in person next week?

SEAN O'HAIR: I'd like to get an autograph. I'd rather have an autograph.

Q. Will you be using that British Open invitation?

SEAN O'HAIR: I'll tell you what, that's going to be a very difficult decision for me. I don't do things based upon my career, I do things based upon my family, and I don't know if that's going to work out for me and my family. I want to go. I want to go more than anything. Will I go? I'm not sure yet. I haven't really thought about it to be honest with you. So that's a decision to be made pretty quickly.

Q. Talk about your background and getting into the winner's circle, going from there to here in such a short amount of time.

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, it's been a lot of hard work. You know, I think my turning pro, a lot of people wouldn't agree with it at 17, and I don't even know if I agree with it, to be honest with you. I definitely wasn't good enough and I wasn't ready to become a professional, but I think the experiences that I went through by making that decision made me, I guess, appreciate things and create a hard work ethic and kind of more of a fighter's mentality. I definitely never really had it put in front of me as far as sponsors' exemptions and all that stuff, and some of the experiences that I've had have made my game better and in other ways they've made my game worse. You know, my wife and my family especially has just been nothing but supportive, and to be honest with you, that's really the main thing why I think I've succeeded so quickly is that I'm in such a great situation with my family and I'm happy and I've got a great relationship with my father in law and my mother in law, and my wife is my best friend, and I've got my daughter that travels with me all the time. So I've got everything I need on the road. It's just the support I think on tough days whenever they say it's going to be all right and everything is a little bit better when you play well, I mean, everybody comes and congratulates you when you play well, but they're always there whenever I play bad.

So I think that's definitely the difference is when I was a kid, the support you know, I had a tough situation when I was a kid. That's the easiest way to put it. It just was not a happy situation, and there was a lot of pressure there, and I just think now it's the exact opposite. How can you not succeed, I guess?

Q. I was going to ask you do you have a timetable to figure this all out or would you consider going over there, just you and Steve, or would you

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, especially kind of what's going on in the world today, I would feel kind of uncomfortable with my family going. If I go, I think it's just going to be me and Steve, but my wife might kill me. She's giving me a dirty look (laughter).

Q. When do you think you'll decide that?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, it's really kind of I think I've got to make either a decision tonight or tomorrow morning. It's going to be one of the toughest decisions of my life. I mean, like I said, I definitely want to go, but it's a long way over there and kind of short notice. I like to prepare myself mentally for tournaments, and I'm not mentally prepared for it. But I'll tell you what, I want to go. That's basically all I can tell you.

Q. Do you have updated passports?

SEAN O'HAIR: No, I have no passport. I have no passport. I just thought about that.

See, this is the stuff I'm talking about (laughter).

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you tell us Steve's name?

SEAN O'HAIR: Steve Lucas.

Q. What was it like for you in the trailer knowing that Robert had a birdie putt to get to 16 and then obviously with J.L., obviously before he put it in the water and then watching that happen and then Hank having a putt

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, somebody told me that Robert was putting for a 3, and I thought he was on 17. So I'm sitting there just sweating it out, and he's giving it a good look and made a good run at it, and I didn't realize until later that he was on 18 until somebody told me.

You know, I was shocked with J.L.'s situation on 17. I definitely think he was the man to beat, and you know, there's nothing I can really say about what happened. I mean, he didn't do anything wrong; I just think that was a tough situation, a tough spot to be in, and everybody misses putts. I've missed plenty. So I definitely know how he feels.

But Hank I was really worried about because I was telling some other people that Hank is the type of player that performs his best under pressure, and whenever you put something in front of Hank, he's pretty much going to do it. I was really sweating it out with him on 18. That drive was unbelievable. I've never seen anything like that. The scary thing is I don't even think he swung at that all out. He was the guy I was really sweating, to be honest with you, on 18.

Q. In terms of your background, I'm sure in the back of your mind you've thought about what you might say to your father when you did eventually break through on the PGA TOUR. If he were here today or if you were to speak to him, what would you say?

SEAN O'HAIR: I don't really know, to be honest with you. I don't know. That's a question I really can't answer.

Q. I was going to ask pretty much the same thing. Have you given any thought at all to what he's thinking today?

SEAN O'HAIR: I haven't really thought about that today, to be honest with you. You know, I'm just enjoying it with my family here, and hello to my mom back home, and I haven't really thought about that to be honest with you.

Q. Does this make it all worthwhile?

SEAN O'HAIR: Oh, yeah (smiling). I could never have dreamt of a rookie year like this so far, and we're just barely past halfway. I can't believe it to be honest with you.

Q. Some similarities between yourself and a 15 year old who played here earlier this week and some radical differences. Can you compare and contrast?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, in my opinion I think she's a little bit better player than I am (laughter). I think I just got lucky this week.

She, in my opinion, the world has never seen, including Tiger Woods, in my opinion, and that's a bold statement. Tiger is unbelievable, but forget that she's a female. Take a 15 year old who's missed two cuts what was she, 14 last year, playing in Sony, and she missed it by one? Name me a 14 year old that can do that, number one, and name me a 15 year old in the history of golf who could have done what she did this week. I don't even think Tiger would even come close to what she did this week. I think she should be proud of herself, and I look forward to seeing her out here more. I think she definitely deserves to be out here, and it's just a matter of time before she makes a cut in my opinion.

She's a phenomenal player, and I mean, who knows, she might be out here contending when she's 21 years old. I mean, who knows? She's just so good at 15 years old. I just hope she keeps on doing what she's doing and doesn't get put too much pressure on herself and just enjoys it because she's something special, and she should have fun with that.

Q. Going through what you've gone through, would you advise her to be more of a kid enjoy herself?


Q. Should she turn pro?

SEAN O'HAIR: I wouldn't advise her to turn pro. You know, in my opinion, it's none of my business. She can do whatever it is she wants to do. But with my experience, I can't really compare her with my experience. I mean, she is light years beyond me at 20 years old. I really can't advise her on that. I would like to see her play a lot more out here. I'd like to see her play I'd love to see her win LPGA Tour event, especially a major. I definitely think she's able to do that. I think golf is definitely better with her playing out here.

Q. First of all, happy birthday.

SEAN O'HAIR: Thank you.

Q. How did you like the course? How does this course match up with your game?

SEAN O'HAIR: It's definitely I mean, it's kind of like Byron to be honest with you. It's a different layout but it's the same type of golf shots you've got to hit. It's not just grip it and rip it type of deal. There's holes you can be aggressive on, holes you can't be aggressive on, and the course felt good. I mean, just the course felt good. My game didn't feel good going into this week.

I've never played this was my first week being here, and I think this is one of the best courses we've play this year, and I'm not just saying that because I won, I'm saying it because it's in phenomenal shape. It's a great layout, and if you're hitting it all over the place you're going to shoot a million out here, and the greens are very soft, undulating, and it's not like you've got these huge hills and all that stuff, but they're very undulating greens, they're just soft.

I like that you've got a variety of shots into the greens. It's just an all around great golf course. The par 3s are phenomenal. The sad thing is I don't know who designed this course.

Q. D.A. Weibring.

SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, he did an unbelievable job. Hats off to him.

Q. Two questions. First of all, when is the last time you've talked to your father? And you've talked today about what Jackie and the Lucases have meant to you? What was that like when you met them and got into that family situation.

SEAN O'HAIR: I haven't talked to my dad since my wedding, which was, what, a little over two and a half years ago, pretty much. I was married December 28, 2002, just so you know (laughter).

My situation, Jackie was like my guardian angel. She just came at the right time for me. Just to think back, I had never been out on a date and I was 19 years old when I met her, and our first date was watching "Pearl Harbor" on her couch at her townhouse, and I sat on one end and she sat on the other, and we didn't talk.

You know, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. The great thing is no matter what my situation is as far as career wise would be, meeting them I would be happy as a clam. So that was definitely the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Kathy, my mother in law, is what can I say about her? I love her to death. You know, she treats me as one of her own, and she's always there for Jackie and I, and she means a lot to me and means a lot to my family.

Steve on the other hand (laughter) I'm just joking.

First time I ever met him, he was doing grips. We actually were in Florida and we were going to go out to dinner, and he has that's where Jackie was staying was in this townhouse in Florida, and he came down from Philly because that's where he lives, just to see how Jackie was doing, but he brought a friend. And when I came to the house, he was doing regripping Jackie's clubs or his clubs or somebody's clubs in the garage, and I came, trying to make a good impression, with flowers for Jackie, and he comes in and introduces himself, and he says, I don't even think you introduced yourself, and he said, "Who are those for?" I said, "They're for Jackie." He said, "No, they're not. You know how much trouble you're going to get me in with my wife?" Then he goes in and finishes regripping his clubs. That was the first time I ever met Steve.

He's my father, to be honest with you. He's always been there for me, and he definitely means a lot to me, that's for sure.

Q. What are your expectations now that you've done this? What are you looking at?

SEAN O'HAIR: The toughest thing is to be realistic with myself. I've done a lot. I've only had really, I guess, four good tournaments. I think this one obviously, Byron Nelson, New Orleans and AT & T, and Honda. I've played very consistent as far as making the cuts.

I mean, I really don't know how my goals are. I just want to feed off this, and learn something from it, and basically the only thing I've got so much to learn as far as being a player out on the PGA TOUR.

I can learn so much from the veterans out here, and if I keep on working hard and keep on working on the right things, I feel that's going to get better. And that's my goal, just to eventually at some time in my career be the best that I can possibly be. I don't know if that's possible, but we'll see. That's really my goal, to be honest with you, and just not be like I've been since the Byron, and that's impatient. I think I've been a little bit impatient with myself, but hopefully I'll start enjoying things a little bit better and enjoy being out on Tour instead of putting so much pressure on myself to win.

Q. Considering you said you felt like puking when you were on 18, what's going through your mind as you're watching that ball trickle toward the water?

SEAN O'HAIR: "You'd better not go in the water."

No, I was shocked. I was really shocked. I thought I was just going to knock it down, if anything, but I was shocked that it went that far left. To be honest with you, I just was fortunate. I mean, I was praying so much to just keep me in the present and keep me faithful with myself and with my game, keep me just keep me in the present. I think that's all I was telling myself today was just stay in the present, and it paid off.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Congratulations.

SEAN O'HAIR: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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