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February 18, 2014

Hunter Mahan


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:テつ Hunter Mahan, thanks for joining us, here.テつ You've had two top 10s in your last three starts, and you're back at the Accenture Match Play Championship where you've won, and had some great success.テつ Some opening comments about coming back to Tucson.
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Yeah, excited to be here, excited about this event.テつ Match play is a great format.テつ It's a lot of fun to play.
Obviously I enjoy this golf course.テつ It's a lot of fun to play.テつ The course is always in perfect shape here.テつ And it's not going to snow, so it's exciting for all the players.テつ We're looking forward to a lot of great golf.テつ And I think it's going to be a great week for everyone.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:テつ You took some time off last fall and you've been rounding into form, do you feel like you're getting where you need to be?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ You know, I don't know where‑‑ I don't know.テつ I think I'm getting better.テつ I'm a better player than I was last year.テつ I've got a lot of room to improve and to be where I want to be.テつ It's tough to say.テつ But I feel good about this week and where my game is at.テつ So if I'm a better player than I was yesterday then that's a good improvement.

Q.テつ Would you like the opportunity to go up against Kuchar again?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Yeah, you know, I beat him two years ago and he beat me last year.テつ So it would be a fun match to settle the score on this golf course before‑‑ if we have to go somewhere else next year.

Q.テつ Do you feel you've done something terribly wrong to get drawn in the group that if you win your first match you're going to end up with Graeme McDowell, if you win that Zach Johnson, after that it could be Martin Kaymer, after that it could be Bubba?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ I think with wherever you're drawn, you're going to have to beat some good players.テつ Who you may go up against isn't really relevant and it's who you go up against.テつ And I had to beat‑‑ one year I had to beat Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy.テつ You're going to have to beat some great players no matter who you have to play or what bracket you're in.

Q.テつ You've played this course in up the snow.テつ You've played in course in the wind.テつ Now you're playing it in the wind little bit.テつ What is the difference there and how much do you adjust?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Yeah, I think the ball is going to be flying this year.テつ Should be going pretty far, especially off the last two weeks playing basically at sea level.テつ The ball just doesn't jump in the air like that.
Getting used to the distances this week and how far the ball is traveling, and especially flying into some of these greens.テつ You really have to know how far you're hitting it.テつ You can hit a lot of good shots.テつ But if you're a little off in your distance, you're going to have some difficult putts and maybe some difficult up and downs.テつ Getting used to the conditions here is going to be very important.

Q.テつ There are a lot of players making their first start here this week.テつ What do you remember about your first time at this event?テつ Anything unique that stood out to you or anything you were surprised about?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Well, you've got to get used to this course, and you really have to know where you're going to hit all your tee shots.テつ Figuring the lines off the tee is very important.テつ You can hit some pretty good shots, and end up in the rough or even the desert, depending how the hole is playing.テつ You really have to know the golf course and where you want the ball to end up.テつ And really get used to these greens.テつ These greens have a lot of slope.テつ If you don't know where to miss it at this place, you can leave yourself some very difficult shots.テつ This is a course that I think the more times you play it, the better understanding you have of it and how to play it and how to attack it from different angles.

Q.テつ Can you describe your process of getting tuned back up for this year and how you know when you're ready?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ You know, I think it's always a fine balance of getting rest and getting rested coming into this year.テつ And then putting the work in to make sure you get better and improving in the areas that you need to improve in.テつ There's a fine balance of that.テつ Like I said, I think I need to get a lot better in a lot of areas, and it starts today, start working on that.
I don't think ‑‑ for me it's not about being ready or getting to a certain point, it's just every day making sure that I'm not worrying about the results as much as I'm worrying about how am I performing on the golf course, not from a score perspective, but how am I playing, what am I doing right, what am I doing wrong, and how do you need to improve.テつ For me I get too stuck in results sometimes and how I finish, and that's the important thing.テつ I think I've played well in some tournaments, but I did a lot of things poorly and I just got not lucky, but my talent got me through.
There's a lot of areas that I need to improve in and it's got to start today and I have to make an effort to do that and not worry about how you finish in the tournament but how do I get better that day.テつ It's easy to get lost playing week after week after week and getting stuck into, well, I think I've got it figured out.テつ And then all of a sudden, you realize you don't have anything figured out.テつ It's golf.テつ It's a very humbling sport.テつ Every day I have to put my full attention to getting better or I'm going to get worse.

Q.テつ We're doing a feature on one of your Under Armour friends.テつ Have you ever played in a pairing with Jordan Spieth?テつ And if not or if so, what makes him so good?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ The crazy thing is we live in the same town and I've never played a round of golf with him.テつ I've barely seen him hit balls, which is weird.テつ I've seen him hit balls at the Presidents Cup.
I think the thing that's impressive about him is his maturity and his‑‑ I think his mental kind of age on the course.テつ He's really‑‑ he knows how to get a score out of something.テつ He knows how to squeeze the most out of himself that day and his round.テつ That's not something anyone can teach you.テつ That's not something any sports psychologist or any great teacher is going to be able to give you.テつ You either learn that quickly and have an understanding of that, and some guys it takes a while to learn.テつ But he's a tough dude.テつ There's not a situation‑‑ nothing really bothers him.テつ I don't think he's afraid to fail.テつ He's not really worried about hitting it bad.テつ He's worried about hitting a good shot.テつ And that's rare.テつ I think that's what makes him so good because physically you might putt bad, you might have a good ball‑striking day, you never know what you're going to do physically on the course.テつ But you can show up and mentally and be 100 percent in.

Q.テつ You mentioned a couple of times there's a lot of areas to improve.テつ Of the list of things to improve, what are the priorities for you?テつ What things?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ I just need to get consistent going into‑‑ I think mentally in every round.テつ I want to make sure that I play 18 holes and I'm not beating myself up too much or getting too hard on myself because I didn't play well.テつ I need to just do a better job of hitting, getting into my shot, seeing what I want to do and then not really caring where it's going, but just making the best swing I can, and then moving on to the next shot.
I just analyze too much on the golf course.テつ I'm trying to be too perfect sometimes.テつ I need to let myself go and forget the results, but be more into the process of where I want the ball to end up.テつ And then move on and do the next one.テつ The golf course is no time to analyze yourself.テつ That's for after the round.テつ And then to make the necessary adjustments going into the next round.

Q.テつ You played, if I'm not mistaken, in the final group of both summer Opens, the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, is that right?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Correct.

Q.テつ What did that do for your golf‑esteem, whether you thought it was a step up, you're in a different territory, and what did you learn from it?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ I don't know, I don't think it's another territory or anything like that.テつ It was great to be there, because it was a great‑‑ because I had a chance to win.テつ And it was a great experience because playing with Phil at the U.S. Open on Sunday is pretty cool.テつ I've done it a couple of times.テつ The fans, how they treat him, how they want him to win is pretty neat.テつ It's kind of rare in golf, I think everyone‑‑ golf fans have their favorites.テつ But it was overwhelming how much they wanted him to win.テつ And it was very neat and kind of special because you know how much he wants to win that tournament.テつ It's always cool to be with him.
I liked how I played.テつ Well, I liked how I handled the situations.テつ I mean, I played as well as I wanted to.テつ I handled the situations very well and just went out there and played and tried to not force anything, and just let myself hit the shots I needed to and not really worry about the result.テつ And I feel I did that in both the U.S. and the British.テつ I just didn't play as well on Sunday.テつ But I didn't feel that it was nerves or anything like that or me not rising to the challenge or anything like that.テつ I just didn't play as well, and that happens.

Q.テつ Who were your role models growing up and how did they influence your golf game now?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Yeah, you know, I always liked watching Justin Leonard, being from Dallas.テつ I always liked watching him play, the precision that he would play with and shaping the shots right‑to‑left and left to right, kind of seeing the course from a different perspective.
I always liked David Duval and his kind of stoic attitude on the course.テつ No matter what was happening, you could never really tell.テつ He never seemed phased by anything.テつ He always was just such a grinder out there.テつ He was never really‑‑ never seemed afraid to fail.
I always liked watching Tiger play.テつ I think Tiger and David were two different personalities on the course, but they were who they were.テつ And Tiger showed us it was okay to be emotional and excited and kind of get after that.テつ I think he also showed us golf is a sport and you've got to treat your body and treat your mind right if you want to be great at this sport.

Q.テつ A couple of years into the change of grooves in the wedges, how has that affected play generally?テつ How do the players on Tour feel about it now?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ I don't think it's affected anything.テつ I think (indiscernible) companies have done a great job of figuring ways to get the ball to spin the way it did beforehand.テつ And I just‑‑ I don't think‑‑ I don't know.テつ I just haven't seen any big effects from it.
The stats say that (indiscernible) has improved, I think, since then.テつ As players, we adjust to whatever we need to do.テつ And I don't know, I haven't really seen the‑‑ any negative effects or crazy effects from it.

Q.テつ I know this is match play, but is there a key hole on either the front nine or back nine that you think you need to do well on that is important in the match or winning the match?
HUNTER MAHAN:テつ Yeah, I think that drivable 15th hole is kind of an interesting hole, interesting moment.テつ You've got to‑‑ I just think a lot can happen there.テつ And I think a lot can turn.テつ I think you can see someone hit it way right and then someone hit it on the green and then someone hits it close and someone three‑putts or somebody chips in.テつ So much can happen on that hole.テつ You're really never out of that hole.テつ Even if you hit it in the desert, you can still get it on the green.テつ Maybe they don't get up and down.テつ It's a big swing hole just in terms of that kind of moment.テつ You're never really out of that hole.
So that kind of seems like the way this course plays.テつ You're never really out of some of these holes, you still have to keep playing, and you never know whack happen in match play.テつ I think that hole signifies match play to the nines.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:テつ Best of luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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