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February 7, 2013

Hunter Mahan


JOHN BUSH:  Hunter, after a 6‑under par 66 here at Pebble Beach, great start to the tournament.  If we can just get some comments on your round.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, thanks.  Got off to a good start today.  Birdied the first couple.  The conditions were so benign right now that you can be aggressive and there are some pins that were definitely accessible today.
So it was nice to take advantage of that.  I played pretty solid all the way throughout.  Hit a lot of good putts and had an opportunity to go in, but the greens are quick and you have to pay attention, because you can easily run it by four or five feet and you don't want to have 4‑ or 5‑footers out here all day long.  That's not going to help your score at all.
I like how I played and hit a lot of good‑quality shots and it was nice to end with a birdie today.

Q.  You've been knocking on the door in this tournament the last couple years.  You must feel like maybe this is your time.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Maybe.  I enjoy playing here.  It was disappointing to finish second in 2011, so I definitely want to win here.  I like all the golf courses.  I enjoy playing here.
So you know, this is definitely an historic tournament, so I think anyone that tees it up here knows the importance of it and knows that to be a champion, what this would mean.  I'm excited to be in this position right now, but obviously there's a lot of work to do.  I do look forward to this every year, and definitely want to win this tournament at some point in my career.

Q.  What's your take away from 2011?  If I recall, you played well the last day, shot 66.  You were not very happy as you left, as I recall?
HUNTER MAHAN:  3‑putting the last at a pivotal time did not make me happy.  But yeah, I enjoy playing here and I look forward to this event every year, and you know, definitely 2011 left a bad taste in my mouth.  I want to put myself in that position again and hopefully have a better result.

Q.  What do you look enjoy about coming here?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I think just having a day like this and being at Pebble is what I look forward to.  The course is really just one of a kind.  Just can't build a course like this anywhere in the world.  And playing with Monterey Peninsula and Spyglass, there's three extremely high‑quality golf courses.
I think I just like the test it provides from a mental and physical approach.  This isn't just a go out there and‑‑ there's a lot of challenges I feel like here and I like that.
I just enjoy and I like being in California and being up in northern California.  It's just great this time of year.

Q.  What do you remember about last year?  You were on the leaderboard last year and of course Phil took off quickly.  But you were fairly close, weren't you?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Honestly I have no idea what happened last year.  I don't know how I finished.  I think maybe there was a chance with Tiger and Phil and then all of a sudden nobody had a chance.  And the way Phil was playing, he got off to a good start.  I think I knew I was kind of hanging around, but yeah, he took off and played great.

Q.  What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you today?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Most interesting?  It was pretty boring out there.  The pace of play was good.  I guess that's what's most interesting; it was boring out there today.  I had a good time with my partner.  You know, the pace was great playing today.
The weather was good.  I think the most interesting thing was we had perfect weather when it was supposed to rain at noon.  We were all expecting rain; the bag probably weighs a hundred pounds right now, can't fit anything more in it.  The weather was fantastic.

Q.  What is sort of the next step for you?  You're obviously 30 now and you've won several times and established yourself at a certain level.  Are majors the next thing?  How do you sort of go into this year thinking about where you take your career from here?
HUNTER MAHAN:  That's always an interesting question.  I try to think about it myself and I just over‑complicate it usually, trying to go to this imaginary next step and try to do this.  I think what I want to do is make it very simple on myself and just try to get better every day and not worry about the results and not worry about taking that step and not worry about where my World Ranking is and all this stuff.
Just to get better and try to compete every single week and compete on every single shot, and really give every single shot my utmost and full attention and not think about the past; think about the future and what I can do to get better.
And that will take care of itself, you know, because I think it's harder to just break through a barrier and win a major.  Everyone wants to win a major.  You know, you're not making history there.  I think I have a lot to improve on and that's what I'm trying to do, and I think I've made great strides that, n that so I'm excited about my game and what I can do right now.

Q.  The pace of play at Torreyon Monday ‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  I had four holes to play.

Q.  And then the pace is a little bit different because of the celebrities.  In general on TOUR now, week‑in and week‑out, are we making too big of a deal out of pace of play, or has it become an issue for you guys, do you think?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I think we would all like to play faster.  The pace would be‑‑ the game would be sort of better if the pace was faster and guys were not standing on tees and just waiting for someone to go play; it doesn't look good when the last group is just standing there with two other groups and waiting on a par 3 or something ridiculous.  There's no reason to stop there.
But it comes down to the players.  It comes down to all of us making an effort to play faster.  It's not a hundred guys playing slow; it's a few guys, and you know, I know that I don't want to be one of those guys.  I want to play fast.  I want to be ready to go every time it's my shot.  There's a handful of guys, and unless those guys make a change, it's just going to be slow.  It's a very slight thing that's going to bog everyone down.  But it's going to come down to the players making decisions or changing the rules to make the rules for strict and have a heavy penalty.

Q.  Do you think the TOUR could be more stringent in its policing of it?
HUNTER MAHAN:  There's plenty of things that could be done.  You're going to have to I think start giving guys shots because shots will affect the rounds a lot easier.  Fines, ten, 15, it doesn't mean much.  In the long term, it doesn't matter.  Obviously that has not worked.  So I think if you start popping shots for guys, they are going to start moving.  But honestly it doesn't start on the first tee or the 12th tee; you should be here at this time.  Like I said, it the players responsibility.

Q.  Does it surprise you sometimes how long it takes some guys, just in watching their routine?
HUNTER MAHAN:  What's frustrating is guys when it's their turn, they are the second or third guy and they are not ready to go.  That's frustrating to me.  There's no reason for that.  If you're the last guy, it should take you ten seconds to hit, it shouldn't take you 50 seconds to hit.  Even if allotted a certain amount of time, if you're the third guy to go, there shouldn't be much thought.

Q.  In this economic era, what would get guys's attention more, 5,000 bucks or 20 FedExCup points?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I guess FedExCup points.  The 5,000 or ten or whatever however it works, it doesn't mean much in the long run.  It's not going to make an impact.
But shots in the final round of a tournament, and say, hey, give me two, you guys have to go, you have to be here, it's two shots, that's going to get them moving in a hurry.  FedExCup points, that could be huge in the end trying to make it from 125 to 100, that could be very big.  Like you said, you'd have to figure out the points and stuff.  But 5,000 doesn't obviously make much of an impact, that's for sure.

Q.  As you mentioned earlier, you've been in the mix here a couple times, and it's obviously a very unique events with the celebrities and pace everything and around it.  Have you always been comfortable here and if not what has changed and allowed you to be in the mix the last couple years?
HUNTER MAHAN:  You can get frustrated, I know I was, like the first couple years playing here.  Then I think you just realize that it is what it is and it's not going to change. 
The only person, the only thing that's going to change is you, and if you understand that and be ready when it's your turn to hit, and hit; and from there, not be in a hurry, it's fine, it's not a big deal.  But some guys have a tougher time with that.  But pace is not really going to change here.  You just have to change yourself.  It's not hard.

Q.  Did you consider not coming back?  Some people get frustrated and just decide to drop it.  Obviously you didn't make that decision?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I still like playing here too much, and it's still a great event.  I love playing and I enjoy playing on the West Coast.
I would hate for some other factor to determine my schedule, like pace of play or something like that.  That's what makes this event so great is the attention that it gets and the history of it.  That's a part of it, and you need to accept that.  The celebrities have great time with the people.  D.A. Points, he won with Bill Murray didn't affect him at all.

Q.  Knowing the weather was going to be pretty good today, did it ever get into your head, that thought that when the weather is good, that's the day to take advantage of Pebble when you're at Pebble?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I mean, I think you can definitely attack Pebble on the first few holes there.  I think I was just trying to execute good‑quality shots, but, you know, the pins are where they are and I was hitting it well and I found reasons not to be aggressive at times.
But I think I hit a lot of smart shots because I hit it past the hole and tried to spin it back to the hole.  Feel like we just played really well today.  Didn't make it hard on ourselves, and that's what Pebble does is it seems like you have an easy shot and you miss it a little bit, and all of a sudden you're in the spot where you've got nothing, because the greens are playing so fast that you only have to think your way around here and know where to hit it and you can make it easy on yourself, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.  That's what made it easy on myself and gave it a lot of looks.

Q.  As a tournament that you had a chance to win and didn't, does it burn you more than some of the others?
HUNTER MAHAN:  A little bit.  This one and Canada a few years ago bothers me, because I felt like I should have played better and should have won that tournament.
This one does because I felt like if I birdie the last hole, that would put more pressure on D.A. and have to think about it more.  Having a couple‑shot lead, he was able to‑‑ easier for him to get in that way.
Yeah, it bothers me.  But you know, it's just good motivation.

Q.  So did you play 18 differently since then?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  I played it great.  I hit two awesome shots when I had to have them, and then 3‑putted.  So there was nothing I did wrong except not execute.

Q.  But when you're on that green now, is that just history now or is it still sort of when you're playing that hole, like how did you play it today?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I just hit a great drive, hit a huge drive and hit it on the green.  I think that you have to know these greens and know how they play, because they are so tricky and there's some putts that don't look that fast and are super fast and putts that look slow that are‑‑ you just have to know.  I learned a lot from that, because that was one of those putts where you know it's fast, you know it's fast, you know it's fast, and I still hit it by the hole.
This place, it's like Augusta; the more times you play it, the more you learn about it, you get a better understanding and a better feel.  I know where I hit it that day and I know what kind of putt it was.  That will definitely help me.

Q.  How far wasthat putt‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  Five feet or so.  It was the back of the green.

Q.  You had five birdies on the first eight holes.  What was your best birdie there or longest putt?
HUNTER MAHAN:  First hole was four feet.  Second hole was a foot.  Yeah, fourth hole was five or six feet.
I mean they were all pretty close.  There were not really long putts.  The best putt I hit was probably 4.  It was just kind of downhill and broke a couple cups and just hit it just right.
The par3, had a good par save there.  Hit it kind of pin‑high right and hit a good flop shot and made about a 6‑footer that broke probably a cup.  Then it was just pure.  I just hit a pure putt there.  It was right in the middle.
JOHN BUSH:  Thank you for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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