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May 13, 2005

Sean O'Hair


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Sean O'Hair after a 5-under 65 in the second round of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Sean a rookie on Tour who hadn't played an event until coming into this year. This will be your 9th cut in 12 events, including your 7th straight. Let's first talk about your round today. No bogeys, three birdies and an eagle. Nice job out there today.

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I'm hitting the ball really well. I hit the driver well yesterday, and I didn't really take advantage of that. I think I only hit like 60 something percent of my greens yesterday. But today I think I hit 16 or 17 greens and gave myself a lot of opportunities, and it's just -- I'm rolling the ball well on the greens and my lag putting is good. It feels very good, I feel very comfortable out there and it's a nice situation that I'm in.

TODD BUDNICK: You kicked around the mini-Tours for a couple years. This is your first go at the big Tour. Looks like you're adjusting pretty well to life on the PGA TOUR.

SEAN O'HAIR: I thought it would take a lot longer to get comfortable out here. There are a lot of guys that have made me feel a lot more comfortable, just playing with a bunch of different players and talking to other players. It just gets you a lot more comfortable.

That's the key to playing well out here. It's such a jump from the mini-Tours to the PGA TOUR, it's kind of a culture shock, and there's a lot of things to get used to. A lot of the players like Charles Howell and players who I've known before have been really nice to kind of show me around.

TODD BUDNICK: Assess your season up to this point.

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I'm pleased with making the cuts. I've been a little bit disappointed; I'll play really well maybe one day or play solid two days and then kind of have the rest just kind of down. But I'm working on my game trying to -- I make plenty of birdies. If I look at my stats, I make plenty of birdies, I'm just trying to cut down on the bogeys. That's what I was able to do these last couple days, so it's nice.

Q. Is it hard enough being a rookie out here with -- you've got essentially a rookie on your bag, and everywhere you guys go, it's the first time you've both been there. How do you guys get through that?

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, he's so good for me, on and off the golf course. It's just -- the only negative thing about it is that we just don't know the courses, and there are a few shots around or a few shots a tournament that it would have helped here and there, but I think he makes that up quite a bit. You know, just throughout the tournament, just trying to keep me even keel. He knows my clubs and he just knows my game. I mean, he's been around me for such a long time in my golf.

I think we're very comfortable and I think we work really well together.

Q. I'm going off the top of my head here, but it seems the last couple weeks you've been in kind of a good money spot, for lack of a better word, and it kind of slipped away from you on Sunday. Do you see that as positive steps?

SEAN O'HAIR: Oh, absolutely. You know, the goal for me is really not result oriented; the goal for me right now is keep improving each week. I mean, that's all I can really ask for, and I think that's what I've been doing. Each week I'm learning, and there's something new that I'm learning every week and I probably will be learning something new every week for however long I'm out here.

It's definitely a learning curve, but I'm definitely getting a lot better. I think my game is getting a lot better and I look forward to the rest of the year.

Q. You talked about the culture shocks of being out here. I'm wondering what has struck you the most, the differences, and what's the hardest part to get comfortable with?

SEAN O'HAIR: I think this stuff right here. People caring about the way you're playing. The media is definitely a big culture shock from the mini-Tours, the traveling, you know, doing the air travel instead of just driving. It's a lot easier when you've got only a couple hours' drive to the next event, instead of flying from across the country to the next event.

But just playing with the best players in the world and trying to get comfortable with your game now that you're good enough to be out here. I think anybody who's out here playing has earned their spot out here, and I think that's more the attitude that I'm trying to get, that I do belong out here, and just try to get comfortable with that.

Q. Why do you think you're wrestling with the notion of people caring about what you're doing?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, I think just the media. If you play well, the media wants to talk to you, and more on the mini-Tours, it's kind of -- if you play well, you might win and you take your check and you go to next week. That's really what it's about. Out here it's a lot more involved with points, World Ranking points, status as far as World Rankings and Money List and everything like that. So there's a lot more involved as far as if you play well, the rewards are obviously a lot better out here and you get a lot more attention.

Q. Just talk about what do you feel is maybe the main strength of your game, and is there one area if you could pick one that you'd most like to improve?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, improving on is pretty easy. My chipping right now, short game around the greens, kind of touch, really difficult touch shots that you see a Tiger Woods or Ernie Els, where they pretty much out eight of ten times get it up-and-down. The pretty simple pitch shots I'm pretty good at, but just the more creativity around the greens.

But as far as ball-striking, I think ball-striking I'm hitting it very well. My coach and I are working on some swing changes in my swing and they're really starting to come around. I feel very comfortable out there, and the putter feels really good. I changed putters, and I feel very confident with it.

But my overall game I feel pretty comfortable with.

Q. How long ago was the putter change?

SEAN O'HAIR: I changed it in Shell Houston, and I didn't have a really good week in Shell Houston, but ever since then I've been playing pretty good and putting pretty good.

Q. You've got your Tour card, had a baby, rookie on the Tour. How are you not absolutely drowning in all of that? Plus you're virtually still a newlywed.

SEAN O'HAIR: Right. Well, all I can say is how can you not get a kick out of this? I mean, this is what you dream about. This is what you work hard for. I mean, it's unbelievable. Whenever I go home and take a week off, I'm egging to get back out here.

As far as my family, they travel with me, and my wife is a huge supporter of me, and that definitely helps me out a lot.

She kind of -- she's the basically heartbeat of my game and my life. And my daughter, it's awesome that she's out here and I get to watch her grow up. No matter how bad of a round you can be having, you just look at her and you smile.

So I think it's great. I mean, just the whole situation that I've got right now, I'm very happy.

Q. You don't have all the success in the world to draw on from the mini-Tours; you're out here as a rookie. What has been the key for you believing you belong out here? What's allowed you to come out here and not sort of be blown away by it?

SEAN O'HAIR: I think it's more just the hard work. You know, you can't really be concerned about what other players are doing. I mean, you are playing against the best players in the world, but to be successful, you've got to learn about your game and learn what you need to work on, and if you work hard at it, I mean, it's kind of hard to not be successful if you're working on the right things.

I definitely think I've got the right team. My instructor is the right man for the job. I've got a great guy on the bag and I've got a great family. So it's kind of hard to not succeed.

Q. In light of the well-chronicled tribulations you've had, has it in a weird way maybe made you stronger, got you here faster and made you more battle tested to take on these guys?

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, yeah, I think some of the lessons I've learned when I was 17, 18, 19 years old, I didn't really learn a lot of lessons about playing good golf, but I learned a lot of lessons about how to grind it out and how to kind of just tough it out whenever you're struggling, and I think that definitely has helped me be a better player and a better person.

Q. Was there from the time you left high school until let's say Palm Springs getting your card, was there ever a point where you thought about quitting?

SEAN O'HAIR: Absolutely.

Q. Talk about that.

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, when I turned pro, I definitely wasn't good enough to turn pro. There was a lot better players with a lot more talent and a lot more experience. You know, whenever you're not playing well and you're playing against guys twice your age and you really don't -- you feel kind of lonely out there and you're not playing well, and when I didn't have my wife, it was just basically golf, and whenever that wasn't going well, it was just kind of depressing.

So there was definitely times where I thought about giving up the game. But something inside me just told me, "You know, what else are you going to do, and are you going to be happy with doing that?" And I just never could get myself to think that I could do anything else but golf. So I just kind of stuck it out.

Q. As much as you have grinded through things and different issues, do you ever have to be patient with yourself, be easy on yourself?

SEAN O'HAIR: Absolutely. Especially as a rookie out here on Tour, you can be very difficult on yourself. I mean, any time, I think any player can be hard on himself. You've just got to take the good with the bad and learn from your mistakes and just try to improve. The more positive you are, the better you're going to play. That's my opinion. I think I learned that when I was a little bit younger.

So that's my goal. I try to stay away from the result-oriented goals and try and get more towards the process, and whenever I do that, it's very easy for me to stay patient.

Q. You talked about lowlights a minute ago. What would you say was the single best highlight, again, up until Palm Springs, that made you think, "yeah, keep going"? Getting married doesn't count.

SEAN O'HAIR: Whenever I kind of started playing mini-Tours instead of doing the qualifiers, I think I was 20, I started playing the Cleveland Tour, you know, I was learning a lot more from playing every week and learning from my mistakes and just playing a lot better. You know, that's kind of what kind of made me realize that, you know, I think I am good enough to eventually get out here, just a lot of hard work and playing every week that I could got me out here.

Q. Did you ever feel like you had to grow up too fast?

SEAN O'HAIR: You know, I think there was a lot of things that I sacrificed, but I don't know if I would be here if I didn't turn pro at such a young age. That's a hard question. I mean, all I can say is that I'm very happy with where my life is right now, and I wouldn't change anything at all.

Q. Instructor and caddie, their names?

SEAN O'HAIR: My father-in-law is my caddie, Steve Lucas, and my instructor is Steve Dahlby.

TODD BUDNICK: We'll go through your round. If you could just go through the clubs for each of your birdies. No. 3.

SEAN O'HAIR: 3 -- I can't even remember the golf course. I've only played it twice (laughter). I bombed a drive and I can't remember the distance, but I hit a 9-iron in there, played it absolutely perfectly and just saw the putt and made it. So that was a good, solid hole.

TODD BUDNICK: How far on the putt?

SEAN O'HAIR: Eight feet I'd say.

No. 7, hit Rescue, and then I had about 130 to the pin, and the wind was behind me and hit a wedge, and it was just kind of one of those shots, smooth wedge, hit it up in the air and ended up perfect. I think it landed pretty much right beside the hole and had about I'd say a six-footer, seven-footer, made it.

Par 3, 9, that was a good birdie. Very difficult shot. I hit 5-iron in there, played it -- the wind was against and across and just aimed at the bunker and hit a nice draw 5-iron and probably had a 25-footer, 30-footer and drained it. So that was nice.

Eagle on 16, that was a lot of fun. I hit a really good drive. That was kind of a difficult driving hole because the wind was blowing so far right to left and so hard. I had to aim, I think, about 30 or 40 yards right of my target, so just bombed a drive there, had 212 to the pin, hit a 4-iron, just flushed it and rode the wind and looked like it darned near went in the hole. Knocked it to about three feet and made the putt.

Q. On the putting green yesterday you were talking to Charles Howell for a good bit. You mentioned that he's one of the guys that sort of embraced you, for lack of a better term. How so, and what other guys have sort of extended the olive branch to you to sort of make you feel like you're not lost out here?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, Charles is just -- I think I'm probably bothering him a little too much. He's probably tired of me. But he's just really nice to answer my questions. I mean, no matter what he's doing, he just takes the time and makes sure my question is answered. Yesterday I was just actually asking him a little bit about high hits and wedge shots. He's a really good wedge player. I was just asking him about what he does with that. But I ask him a whole bunch of stuff. He's a great guy. He's probably one of the best guys out here.

During the practice round, I don't really know him very well, but Todd Hamilton joined me on the back and just out of the blue was helping me out as far as where to hit it, what club he hits and what it was like last year, and that was kind of neat. Real down-to-earth guy and a great guy. So there's just been a lot of guys like that that just come up to you and introduce themselves. Peter Jacobson is a joy to be around and just a lot of guys like that. It's been a lot of fun.

Q. Do they ask you about the background at all or has that sort of died out finally? I'm sure they're aware of it.

SEAN O'HAIR: It hasn't really -- I don't know if it's died out. I would like for it to. But they really don't ask about it and that's kind of nice. It's just more about if you ever need any help or have any questions, just come up and don't hesitate. So that's very nice for them to do that because they don't have to do that, that's for sure.

Q. It struck me as you were talking about your wife and your father-in-law and your teacher, it's almost like you have a support system.

SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, that's exactly what it is. It's just a team. My whole philosophy is that I didn't get out here on my own. I definitely had a team to help me get out here. So I think we've got a good team.

Q. Obviously it was more important for you to have a father-in-law on the bag than an experienced caddie. Was that just because you thought that would obviously help you just mentally and be more comfortable?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, he knows my game really well as far as clubbing me and as far as how I play. He's very good with how I'm behaving out there as far as reacting to certain shots and he's very aware with that. Really the only negative thing that he's got is inexperience, but I've got that, too, so we're just kind of learning together. He hopefully can still keep on putting up with me, and I think we're doing really well. He's good for me, though, that's for sure.

Q. Have there been any spots in any of the tournaments where the inexperience with the course really showed up and you just made --

SEAN O'HAIR: Last week was definitely a -- I think we were committing to shots and I was hitting good shots all week and just -- the course knowledge, I mean, there was a lot of shots out there where it was better to short-side yourself and have an uphill chip than have an across-the-green putt. So last week was definitely probably the week where inexperience as far as course knowledge hurt us.

Q. How was your crowd today? Did you have a big group following you as your round developed?

SEAN O'HAIR: The last few holes it was big. You know, it was nice. But I think it was more of the hometown boy crowd. We didn't have too many people following us. I think there was about 50 to 100. I don't really know.

Q. How much does that sort of sense of team thing kind of keep it from feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders with every shot, every round?

SEAN O'HAIR: Well, the thing is, the whole thing about a team that's good is it's all about support and being positive. I think whenever it becomes weight on your shoulders is when it becomes, well, you need to do this, you need to do that type of thing where it's negative, which is the exact opposite of what we do.

I think it's more of them trying to pick me up from a bad day than shooting me down. So that's definitely why I think we're working, and I don't think -- it's been a long time since I felt like I've got weight on my shoulders.

Q. What's the best example you can think of where you've taken what might have been negative out here and spun it into a positive?

SEAN O'HAIR: Examples, well, I think Phoenix when I shot a really bad score, I think I shot like 83 or something like that the first day, you know, my caddie Steve, he was very positive, and I was very -- obviously I was down in the mouth about it, and I think it was my second missed cut in a row or something like that, I can't remember. I just felt like I just kind of was -- one of those rookie feelings, early in the year, you're not playing very good and you shoot a bad score, you just kind of feel down in the mouth about it. He was the first person that came up to me and said, "It doesn't mean anything. It just was one of those days where nothing went your way," and it was just bad weather, and I kind of got a bunch of bad breaks. That kind of takes the pressure off me and takes the blame off, and he does a really good job with that.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Sean, and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts.

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