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February 5, 2013

James Hahn


MARK STEVENS:  James, welcome to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro‑Am.  Talk this being a home game for you, being from up the road in the San Francisco area.  Talk about coming here to play and your thoughts coming into the week.
JAMES HAHN:  Yeah, I've always looked up to playing any golf tournament in Pebble Beach, whether it's a junior golf event, an amateur tournament or a professional event and just to be a part of the AT&T Pro‑Am in Pebble Beach, it's an honor to be here.
I want to thank everyone for hosting the event and all the celebrities that come out and support the event, and just glad to be a part of the PGA TOUR and also to participate in the event. 

Q.  Can you talk about your year so far, not only making the cut, but competing and how that you feel that you've done so far?
JAMES HAHN:  I've come into the season with no expectations.  And my expectations have not changed.  Now, I expect myself to shank some shots.  I expect myself to miss some 3‑footers.  But I also have some goals that I strive for; making cuts is one of them.  I know it sounds very small, but you can't win a golf tournament if you don't make the cut.
And also, learning to be a better golfer and learning to just be comfortable out on this tour and to allow my talent to come out.  I think most of the times when I try really hard or I want something really bad, that's when I do my worst.
So for me, it's about being in a comfort zone and having fun out here.  I told my wife, coming into the season, if it was the first year of 20 or if it was the first and last year on the PGA TOUR, that I would embrace every year that I have out here on TOUR, and I think I've done so far, and I think I'm just going to ride that wave till the end.

Q.  Talking in Honolulu, you made it sound like you had not had time to prepare as much as you wanted.  Given that, why have you wanted to play well right off the bat, contending in Humana?
JAMES HAHN:  I came into the season with a lot of confidence.  I didn't really change my golf clubs, which is huge.  I still have a Callaway driver and still have my Titleist putter, and I think that's big.
I'm one of many players on this tour that have not changed equipment during the off‑season, and I use it as a chance to‑‑ it's almost a 1‑up to people that are getting used to a new driver, 3‑wood, putter.
I know Rory is kind of a big talk this time of year for changing clubs, and it's only a matter of time till he's going to figure it out.  But I figure that my best opportunity to succeed this year is to get in early, and that was kind of my goal coming into the season.

Q.  And contending at Humana?
JAMES HAHN:  Humana was a great tournament.  Just started off well.  I can remember, what is it, Top‑5 going into Saturday, and I shot even par.  I think I shot even par, something like that.  Felt like it was 80, because everyone is going low at the Palmer private.
So for me, it was an opportunity to just kind of get out of the spotlight, let the guys do their thing, and like all underdogs do, they come back in the end, make a charge and that's kind of what I did.
I watch a lot of movies where the underdog makes a push at the end, but you know, David against Goliath.  It's just a great learning experience, and to cap it off on the last hole was fun.

Q.  Wonder if you can talk a little about, have you seen the video from Sunday, and what's been the reaction?
JAMES HAHN:  I can't tell watching it (laughter).  I can't believe that I did that.  I was having so much fun that week.  Hole 16 at the Waste Management Open, it's a unique venue.  I've never heard anything like that before.
And to be embraced by the crowd‑‑ they actually gave me a nickname, they called me the Asian Brad Pitt.  I can't make it stuff up.  They knew that.  They did their homework and they were chanting that.  It was fun to be a part of the environment, the experience, and so on Saturday, made double‑bogey and I got booed for the first time in a week and I actually loved it.  And then to come back out and birdie it on Sunday, that was kind of what dreams are made of.

Q.  Inaudible?
JAMES HAHN:  Yeah, they want the dance ‑‑ laughter‑‑ but there are a couple people that were thinking about making signs and showing up to golf events and kind of heckling me a little bit about that.
You know, it's just fun.  It's bringing the fun back into golf, especially me being a rookie and an experience on this TOUR, it gives me a little breathing room, an ice breaker for me and a welcome.  Whether you guys hear from me, if this is my last event or if this is the first of a hundred press conferences, it's all a fun experience for me.

Q.  You had a nice career here in northern California.  Would one of the first times you played here been one of the Junior Tournament of Champions at Pebble?
JAMES HAHN:  My brother was actually a very accomplished junior golfer and he played in the Tournament of Champions at Pebble Beach.
I never actually got to participate in that event, but I did watch my brother play, and I think the first time, he shot even par out here.  So it was a little bittersweet that I never played this golf course, my brother has and I went on to play it in college.
The first time I played golf at Pebble Beach was three years ago.  So that was my first time out here, and I kind of told myself that I would never play it as a junior golfer; that I was going to wait until I made it on the PGA TOUR to play the rotation of golf courses.
So it was kind of a reward for me.  I've gotten a lot of offers, friends who want to come take me out to Pebble Beach and I would always decline and say, that's the holey ground, I'm not allowed to step foot on there unless it's a professional events.  I think I've earned my way up here and enjoyed every experience.

Q.  For those of us who have not seen it on YouTube‑‑ give us the genesis, after you made the putt, had you been planning this or what inspired this?
JAMES HAHN:  I know Bubba had said something about, you know‑‑ everyone is talking about, what are they going to do on hole 16.  I follow Bubba on Twitter, I'm a big fan of his, as well.  There are so many things that‑‑ so many ideas.  I've watched that golf tournament for the last ten years when I was a kid, and everyone as a grown up as a kid were saying, what would I do if I was on hole 16 in the final round and made birdie?
I knew I wanted it to be something special, something fun, but it would only happen if I made birdie.  There were a couple ideas I was thinking about doing‑‑ if you guys really want to know I can tell you.
The Aaron Rodgers discount double‑check was high on the list.  There's also the Tebow, where you‑‑ you know, everybody knows Tebow.  The Beyonce, 'if you like it then should you have put a ring on it,' everybody likes that one.  And then the:  If I made birdie, lifted up the putter, walked off the green and was possessed, and that's what came up.

Q.  It was a 20‑footer?
JAMES HAHN:  Yeah, it was pretty flat, maybe a little downhill, left‑to‑right break, and kind of hit it pretty firm.  I had left my birdie putt on Thursday and Friday short, dead in the heart, though.  I told myself, I wasn't going to leave this one short, so yeah, luckily it went in.

Q.  What did the crowd think?
JAMES HAHN:  They loved it.  Just incredible, the atmosphere, the crowd is going crazy.  The birdie itself on 16, the crowd is already riled up.  It was early afternoon so I'm sure they had a couple alcoholic beverages.  But they have been welcoming to me all week, so it definitely was a lot of fan participation in that, and I thank the fans, as well.

Q.  Last year at this time, you were grinding for the Top‑25 on the Nationwide Tour, and here you are, four for four, making cuts on the PGA TOUR.  Do you have to pinch yourself at some point?
JAMES HAHN:  I played three years on the Web.com Tour and last year I was successful, but the year before, not many people know.  But I didn't finish off the year as well as I wanted to and ended up having conditional status on the Web.com.
Tour.  So going from mini‑tours to my rookie year on the Web.com Tour and finishing 29th, almost inside the Top‑25, to probably one of the worst years of my career; and finally not getting full status on the Tour, which is the first time that's ever happened in my career ‑‑ and to bounce back from that.  And I've had a couple injuries of the last couple years; I'm not going to make any excuses, but it was just poor play or time management.
For me it wasn't an epiphany; wasn't like I woke up one day and said:  I'm going to be a good golfer from now on.  It was a process of what do I need to do to be a better golfer.  And my goal is to be on the PGA TOUR and winning PGA TOUR events and what I need to do to get to that level, and I think it's hard work, dedication and surrounding myself with the right people.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
JAMES HAHN:  No comment.  I might do something, a little fist‑pump here and there.  But I think now that the bar has been set so high, maybe a winning putt on 18 might do a little something.  I guess you're just going to have to watch the Golf Channel to find out.
Want to thank all of the people from TPC Scottsdale. There's a lot of people I need to thank but yeah, it's been a long way from home.

Q.  You're a rookie on the Tour and trying to establish yourself.  Most people now across the country and world know you as that guy doing the dance; sort of a dichotomy where you're a young guy and trying to get through, but you're pretty well known all of a sudden.  Can you talk about those two things going on at the same time?
JAMES HAHN:  Right, you know, it's very hard for me to balance one or the other, because I play golf for a living.  But I don't want to talk golf 24/7.  I'm not one of those guys that is all golf talk.  I need a lot of people throughout the day, throughout the week, and it seems like all we want to do is talk golf.
And I'm just glad that I had the opportunity to show a little bit of my personality and know that we are having fun; we are guys that are playing golf for a living.  We are blessed to be in a position to where we can play golf and support our families.
And for me to be semi‑famous for dancing on the 16th green is an opportunity to‑‑ it gives me a voice, whether I want to support a foundation, any organization; I feel like it's a blessing to be able to play golf on the PGA TOUR but also there is a responsibility for me to take it to the next level and support some kind of cause.
A couple years ago, my first year on the Web.com Tour, I supported the Oakland Children's Hospital, and that is still dear to my heart and that is something that I want to help and give back, because I feel like I'm blessed to be in this position, but it's throwing it away if I don't give back.  And I think the PGA TOUR does a great job of doing that and is a great mission statement and role model for us players.

Q.  You've put together some pretty low rounds this year.  Do you see yourself moving towards a tournament later in the season where you have two or three of those rounds and hoist the trophy at the end of that day?
JAMES HAHN:  There's always that opportunity, but I have not played any other golf courses on the PGA TOUR.  So I really don't know what to expect.  If I‑‑ yeah, I don't even know how to answer that question.  I would love to show up to golf tournaments like Bay Hill or Masters and shoot 62s, but I know there are some golf courses that 72 is a great score.
Starting off on the West Coast Swing, the Humana Challenge, for example, and the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, everyone is shooting lights out, and you have to take advantage of the course, but I know not all golf courses are like that.  I would be happy to take a 62 in the U.S. Open but I know even par would probably win the golf tournament.
So it's just learning the golf courses and learning what other people are doing and how they are getting around the golf course, and if par is a great score, then that's what I'm shooting for.
MARK STEVENS:   Thanks for your time and good luck this week.

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