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February 24, 2013

Hunter Mahan


DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome Hunter Mahan.  Hunter came in as the defending champion of the Accenture Match Play Championship and you were awfully close to successfully defending that title.  I know it was a long day today and you hung in there until the bitter end.  Just some comments on the day today and then we'll take some questions.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Obviously it was a long day.  Boy, conditions couldn't have been harder, I don't think.  The TOUR did a really good job of keeping the greens at a reasonable pace, because there were numerous times when the ball was‑‑ especially around kind of 12, 13, the ball was definitely gyrating, so they did a good job of that and kept it fair.
Played well all day, had a great match against Ian, and just had a bad stretch against Matt on the front nine there that put me just a little bit too far behind.

Q.  Can you talk about 12 and 13?  Looked like the putt Matt made on 12 was huge, and then what happened on 13?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah.  Coming off a birdie on 11, winning 10 and 11, made a really good swing with an 8‑iron and just ended up perfect there, and Kuch came back and hit a great iron shot, made a really, really good putt to make a deuce, and then I was able to make it on top of him.
13, just made a bad swing with a 3‑iron.  It put me in a really tough spot, didn't have any angle at the hole, hit a decent shot to give myself a putt, but Kuch, he made that shot look easy, and I think that was an easy shot he hit up there to two, three feet and got it back there.  So those were two big momentum holes for him to kind of ride the ship a little bit.

Q.  How much different is it playing from behind?  I know you said yesterday that you just didn't like somebody having the honors ahead of you, much less being down.

Q.  Did that change the feel of things once you did get down?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  I mean, I just didn't play good golf there.  It was just‑‑ just wasn't good.  Making kind of a couple silly bogeys there, you can't‑‑ Kuch is a good player, he's a solid player.  You saw today how he can get up‑and‑down and hit good quality shots and didn't put himself in the desert at all really.  I just put myself too far behind the 8‑ball.  I thought I hit a really good putt at 7, I thought I hit a really good putt at 8, and I thought I could get back on 9, and really didn't do anything on those holes.
I gained some momentum on 10 and started playing a lot better after that, but it was just too little, too late.

Q.  Can you talk about hitting out of the bunker at 17, what you were thinking?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Oh, the fairway bunker?  Just didn't have a very good lie.  It was just sitting way down for some reason and just didn't hit a good shot and was just trying to basically knife it up there somewhere short of the hole and just didn't hit it in a very good shot and ended up in a bush.

Q.  You started off the week with snow.  Today you have 30 mile‑an‑hour gusts.  How much effect does the weather have today?  In other words, is it in the putting, in the cold?  It was very cold, I guess, this morning particularly.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Everything.  I mean, there wasn't a facet of the game that the wind wasn't going to affect you on.  I thought I hit a couple putts early that were affected by the wind.  You know, cold‑‑ it's just hard to keep your hands warm and keep a sense of feel.  Every time you grip the club, the grip is cold and it feels hard, and so sometimes your feels are just a little bit off, and you're kind of sitting out there, just shoulders high, and it's just difficult out there.  It was just difficult to play golf.  That's why it's kind of nice it was match play today.  Your score wasn't as important as just how you did on the hole and everything.
But absolutely every facet of your game was tested today.  Kuch, I think he deserved to win because he did a better job in every facet than I did.

Q.  Obviously you would have loved to have won today, and I understand that.  When Matt took the lead on the 4th, it was the first time in 100‑something holes you had trailed here.  Just some thoughts on the run you've had here the last two years and how you've been able to play so well here.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, pretty crazy run to think of ‑‑  I saw somebody on TOUR had 160‑something holes and never really be behind.  It's a pretty crazy stat.  Yeah, it's been a great run.  I've had some good luck along the way, no doubt, but played a lot of good golf.
Like I said, I have a good sense of this golf course.  I feel like I can play it well.  I have confidence every time I step on the tee.  Yeah, it's been a good run for the last two years for sure.  It's been awesome.  I've had a lot of great competitors to play against, and I felt like to beat some of the guys I've beat the last two years I think is impressive, and I'm very proud of that fact for sure.

Q.  Does the golf course look any different or does your swing feel any different going from the brimmed hat that you almost always wear to wearing a ski cap?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I guess maybe a tad different or whatever.  I don't know.  Kind of reading putts is a little different because I take my glasses off, I kind of want to see it with my own eyes, and I didn't have any sun protection, so I was kind of doing this a lot and stuff like that.  But other than that, really not a big difference.  I mean, it was cold.  I don't know how people didn't have them on today, really.

Q.  You told me yesterday you think you haven't been off Dove Mountain since you landed here on Tuesday.  Are you sort of eager to get off the mountain at this point?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I'm excited to get home more than I am eager to get out of here.  It's been over a month, been five weeks since I've been home, so I'll just go home and take a rest and relax a little bit.  I'm more excited than anything to do that.

Q.  How, if at all, was the vibe different playing Ian in the morning and then a fellow American, Matt, in the afternoon?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, it was definitely probably a different vibe for sure.  We had a lot more‑‑ Kuch and I had more conversation on the first hole than I did with Poulter all day.  But that's the difference between the two guys.  There's nothing wrong with it either way.
Yeah, it was definitely probably a different feel.  But Poults is very steely out there.  He kind of motivates himself in a different way than Kuch does.  I had a great time with Kuch until we were‑‑ I was talking to him and his caddie until the last hole there.  It's just frustrating every time I have to look at Kuch now, I'll know that he beat me here, so that stinks.

Q.  I was really impressed with how sharp you were in the morning matches, almost like you didn't miss a shot, and it seemed to me like you came out a little flat after lunch.  Was that your sense of it?  And do you have any sense of why?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I have no sense of why.  I hit two good shots on the first hole, played the second hole well, didn't hit a great‑‑ didn't have a great third hole.  I don't know why.  It just was a bad stretch.  I guess that's just being a human, and I played a lot of good golf for a few days now, so I was probably due kind of a funky stretch there.  And I just couldn't make a putt on 5, and the three‑putt on 6 was‑‑ was it 6?  The three‑putt on 6 was just kind of silly.  I thought I made a good swing and left myself a difficult putt.  But I couldn't have three‑putt that hole.

Q.  So your mind was still in it?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Mind was fine.  Mind was great.  I just wasn't executing my shots very well.  I felt good.  You know, mind was‑‑ I just felt like I needed to get one and just get one on the board and then maybe I could get another one, and then you really never know from there.

Q.  Ian wears his intensity on his face with his bulging eyes.  Matt, it's hard to even tell where his competitiveness or intensity is; he doesn't show it.  How if at all do you see it or does he sort of lull you all into a sense of well being with that smile?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I think he‑‑ like I said, he does it differently.  He's more of like a fuzzier Peter Jacobson kind of guy who likes to talk.  He's super competitive.  I mean, there's no doubt about it.  He plays golf to win, and he works hard at it.  I think he really enjoys playing.  When you play against him, you know what you're going to get; you're going to get a competitive guy who's probably not going to make mistakes.  He's a joy to play with, though, he really is, because it's just fun to be around him.  And the way he plays, it's going to make your play your best, as well.

Q.  Last year you win, this year you finish second.  Would you say, though, that you're a better player now than you were a year ago?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I think so, without a doubt.  I think I have, I feel like, more control, more understanding of my game than I did back then, than last year.  I think I may have maybe played‑‑ through the conditions, I might have played slightly better this year.  I just didn't‑‑ I just had a bad stretch there where I just‑‑ Matt didn't help me at all.  He just made a bunch of pars and played really solid golf.  But I definitely feel like I'm a better player and have a better understanding of who I am and what I need to do to continue this type of play.

Q.  If you were the czar of world golf, what would you do on the anchoring question?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I mean, it's a difficult question because I‑‑ do I feel like anchoring is right?  No.  Do I feel like the timing is 20 years too late?  Yeah.  I mean, I don't know what they've been waiting for because I remember they told us that they were looking at it when guys were using long putters and anchoring from up here.  I don't know the understanding how it takes you 20, 30 years to figure this out and say, okay, we're going to ban it now.  I mean, it's difficult because those guys like Tim and Carl and Keegan who have been doing this for a long time, to all of a sudden get rid of it, that seems wrong.
You know, I don't know.  The good thing is I don't think it's some sort of fixing the putting.  It's like, oh, you do this, you're going to be a great putter.  That's not right, because there's so much more to playing than just sticking it in your belly and stroking it.  There's more to golf than that.  I mean, I don't know.  I'm glad I'm not in charge because I don't know if I have a great answer.  But it's a difficult topic, and I don't know, I feel bad for the guys that are kind of involved with it for sure.
DOUG MILNE:  Hunter, we appreciate your time.  Thanks.

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