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August 24, 2002

Hunter Mahan


CRAIG SMITH: Hunter, congratulations. If I look at this I would say birdies at 11, birdies at 12, turning points but maybe you tell us. Were those the points, or others?

HUNTER MAHAN: Well, yeah. It got me two up. And from there it was just a lot of tough holes. So any lead was definitely in my favor.

CRAIG SMITH: How about the clubs and the putts on those two holes?

HUNTER MAHAN: On 11, I hit like a little wedge out of that rough and hit it in a good spot and made a really good putt because that putt breaks a lot. It was eight feet probably, eight, ten feet. It broke a lot. Broke a foot, foot and a half. Just hit a great putt.

Then 12, hit a sand wedge in there. I was trying to spin it back but it just kind of stopped so I was about 20 feet above the hole and just made a great putt because it was really fast. Just got it on line and it just rolled right in.

CRAIG SMITH: You're walking on some pretty new ground here. Last guy to win the Junior and the Amateur was a guy named Tiger Woods.

HUNTER MAHAN: Right. It's something I guess you can't think about too much. But it's something that you put yourself in that kind of class with Tiger, it's pretty special. I think that, I mean, to do that would be really awesome. Maybe something that I could think about for a long time, because your name is on that trophy forever. So it's something special.

Q. Do you think you won this match this afternoon with your putter? Besides the two birdies at 11 and 12, the putts you made at 10, 14, and 15, were huge and amazing.

HUNTER MAHAN: Oh, yeah. I was rolling the ball solid all day. I was hitting my lines really well and got my speed extremely well and made a great putt on 10. I think that was a big momentum putt for me. It kept me going. That was about 20 feet for par.

And on 14, 15, made, you know, about an 8-footer then I made a 15-footer. Those were huge putts. No doubt about it. Because they were momentum swings in those putts. That just kept me going and kept my lead.

Q. Talk a little bit about 18. What did you have for your second shot and your decision to put yourself where you did?

HUNTER MAHAN: It was just kind of a funny lie. The rough out here is tough. First, I was going to try to hit it and try to scoot it up in that front bunker. I figured I could get it up-and-down from there. But when I saw the shot go way left, I knew that was going to be a tough up-and-down and I knew I needed to take -- if I took a club out of there and turned it over then I would have had that bunker, first bunker, short and I would have been really in a tough spot there. You never know what kind of lie you're going to get in a bunker. I said, if I lay it up there and try to make the par that way, I will take the double out of play, and force him to make a really good shot from the rough.

CRAIG SMITH: Did you play Ricky Barnes in a previous U.S. Amateur?

HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I did. At Baltusrol.


HUNTER MAHAN: And I think I won three and two there.

CRAIG SMITH: What round?

HUNTER MAHAN: I don't even know. It could have been -- I think it was the second round. Second round.

Q. How did it shake out last time? Was it pretty much your experience against his distance off the tee or what? Because he out hit you off the tee. Or what?

HUNTER MAHAN: I think he hits it a bit further than most people. He takes a lash at it. So he's not leaving too much in the bag.

Q. Was it like a 10, 20-yard difference?

HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's not a whole lot. But when he gets it going, it goes extremely far. But last time, I think, I just putted really well. Just kind of -- I was just playing a little bit better than he was. That's what it came down to.

CRAIG SMITH: You saw each other at the beginning of the week and played in stroke play Monday and Tuesday. Did you plan on getting together at the end of the week?

HUNTER MAHAN: Well, we didn't talk about that or anything, but to be in the finals with him or anybody, it's pretty awesome.

Q. How were your nerves today? How did you sleep last night in preparation for today?

HUNTER MAHAN: Fine. I felt pretty comfortable. I was just trying to get ready for today. Trying to rest up and conserve my energy. But on the course, obviously, it's just a grind out there. You're just trying to hit the best shot you can. Sometimes it doesn't work out. But I try not to worry about too much and just keep on going.

Q. Were you starting to wonder on the 8th hole, he made the putts on four and five to save par and then hit the bomb on 8. Were you starting to think, what do I have to do to put this away?

HUNTER MAHAN: No. If he was going to keep doing that, I said, that's fine. If he was going to keep making par putts like that all day, that's fine. It came around that I was doing that too. So that didn't worry me at all. If he was hitting it close all day, maybe missing some putts, then I would be like, you know, he's going to make it and if you -- and it's going to be tough to beat him. But I wasn't really too worried about that.

Q. You obviously lost the first hole when he birdied but then you came back and birdied the next two. How important was that early on to get back even or to take the lead?

HUNTER MAHAN: I get -- you want to get off to a good start here. It's only 18 holes. A lot can happen. But to make two birdies like that, I think that right after he made that first birdie, that was big. Because match play is so much about momentum. So much. If you're just ready to go, and you can just carry yourself. You got the crowd on. A lot of things can happen. To make those two birdies back to back, I think was very big.

Q. Any different strategy in a 36-hole match versus an 18- hole match?

HUNTER MAHAN: No. I'm just going to try to be patient, and just focus on that one hole in front of me. Can't really worry about too much else.

Q. Did you feel more comfortable with your swing today than you had in the previous rounds? You kind of mentioned before that you were a little shaky?

HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, I took the driver out a few more times today. I hit it a little bit better than have I been. My swing feels a little bit better. But I think that I'll be, hopefully, good tomorrow. Hopefully my swing will just kind of come around and be ready to go because I know he's playing well. So I know it will be a tough match.

Q. Can you talk a little about your caddy and how that came about.

HUNTER MAHAN: I'm just figuring in a USGA event, figuring this type of event, I figured I'm going to need a guy who is going to know the greens, know the course, knows where to hit it, knows where to miss it. And this was a big event, I didn't want to take a change of having my dad or friend caddy who didn't know the course at all. Having a caddy like that that knows the course, been here a long time, it really helps a lot.

Q. Does he read, it looks like he reads a lot of greens for you out there?

HUNTER MAHAN: He would read them, and then we would go back and forth on where to play them. But the decision is ultimately mine.

Q. Is this the largest gallery you've ever played in front of?

HUNTER MAHAN: I don't think so. It's probably, I mean in 2000 I made it to the quarters and that was a pretty big gallery there.

Q. How did the size of the galleries compare on like quarters here versus quarters last time you were at the Amateur, pretty similar?

HUNTER MAHAN: Pretty similar. Pretty similar. I think with the matches we have, with Bill playing so many tough opponents I think the crowd was going to watch them. Because he had some great matches and played well. But the crowd's been excellent.

CRAIG SMITH: Just to have it down. Take me through the Amateurs you've played and how far you got.

HUNTER MAHAN: Played at Pebble. Missed the cut at Pebble. Made Baltusrol, made it to the quarters. Last year missed the cut. And this year.

Q. How long after Dustin's putt missed on 18 before you started thinking about the Masters?

HUNTER MAHAN: It was way before his putt. It's hard not to think about it. And I knew it's not up to me now. It's up to him if we're going to keep going on. And when I saw it miss, I just kind of just thought about it and it's something that's something that every amateur dreams of really. Because you don't get, chances are very limited to get there. And to have that almost like in the bank that you're going to Augusta is pretty nice.

Q. Have you been there?


CRAIG SMITH: You're in a very golf rich area. I notice that some of your fan club is already calling you. Tell us about that.

HUNTER MAHAN: Just excited. My coach is, I guess thinks pretty highly of me. He always, when we're playing a tournament in Augusta, college tournament, and he said he wanted to see me there because he knew I could do it. And that's pretty exciting to kind of fulfill that.

Q. Win or lose tomorrow, plans on turning pro?

HUNTER MAHAN: No immediate plans. Definitely staying my junior year, definitely staying for that. We got nationals on our home course so we can look forward to that and playing well there.

CRAIG SMITH: Anything else? All right. You're done.

HUNTER MAHAN: All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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