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February 25, 2012

Hunter Mahan


MARK STEVENS:  Hunter, thanks for joining us.  Another decisive victory, 6 and 5 over Matt Kuchar.  We were talking after that first round match that went 19 holes, you kind of made quick work of your last three opponents.  Talk about that and today's match.
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, had a pretty tough match the first one against Zach.¬† The last two‑‑ well, against Yang and Stricker I made, well, made a ton of birdies.
Today the course is playing tougher, didn't make as many birdies.  Matt didn't play as well as he can or usually does.  It made it easier to win a few holes with par.
Made a nice birdie on 9.  It was nice to keep the momentum going there.  And I good hole on 10, and Matt couldn't find the putter today, which is rare for him, because he's a great putter.  I got lucky in that aspect.  But played solid, didn't make any bogeys and didn't give many holes.  And kept the pressure on him.  That was nice to do.
MARK STEVENS:  Mark Wilson tomorrow in the semifinals.  Any thoughts going into tomorrow's semifinal match?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Not really.  I think Mark is going to hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, he's a steady, consistent player.  He's playing well now.  It would be fun to play against a Ping guy in Arizona.  That will be exciting.

Q.  When you played when you were struggling on the front nine, how easy is it not to be distracted by that and to allow doubts to come to your mind about the greens?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I was very confident in my putting.  I've been putting really well this week.  I have a good feel for the greens.  I'm confident in what I see on the greens.  My feel from 30, 40 feet has been excellent.  I never had any doubts about what I was doing.

Q.¬† You had the good first round at Riviera.¬† And just wondering, did you feel like all of a sudden you're going to have a good year?¬† Anything show up the end of the winter that made you think maybe‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† No, it's been a steady process getting my swing more consistent, a better understanding of such things.¬† And my short game has come around, which is going to help a lot.¬† That's going to enable me to be more aggressive at pins and save a few shots a round.¬† And during a four‑day stretch, you get up and down four times more than you usually do.¬† It's going to give you a lot more top‑10s, a lot more opportunities to win.
So my short game has been kind of key for me.  If I can get up and down and make a few putts, I'm going to have a good week.  It's been pretty consistent so far this year, I will keep improving there.  But to make putts and get up and down is big for me.

Q.¬† 64‑hole crap shoot to start on Wednesday.¬† What it's like now when you're one of four left?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, it's an intimidating thing to think 64 guys, six rounds, to think you have to win six matches is an intimidating thing.¬† To feel like there's only Mark and I left, and only two more spots is pretty crazy.¬† It feels like we've been here a month, really, played the same course so many times, the same range.¬† It's kind of a small place.¬† It's not a big place, you can't hide.¬† The hotel being five minutes away, you know, we definitely felt like we've been here at least two weeks.¬† It's a strange feeling and every day you come in the morning there's less, fewer people.¬† It's odd.¬† But it is a grind.¬† It's definitely‑‑ this is like the fourth round of a normal tournament, but it feels like it's a lot more than that.

Q.  You still have to play a match tomorrow just like you did on Wednesday.

Q.  How are your expectations different?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† I guess they're not different.¬† The same‑‑ I need to do the same things.¬† I mean whether‑‑ however I play is however I play, it doesn't really matter.¬† I have to mentally be in the same frame of mind and try to win as many holes as I can.¬† I don't think anything changes from trying to win on Wednesday to trying to win on Sunday morning.¬† I'm going to do the same thing tonight that I've been doing and getting‑‑ getting the same mind sense and frame in the morning and get ready, on that first tee be ready to go.¬† It's easy to walk to the first tee in the morning and be lackadaisical and be 2 down after 2.¬† As soon as you step on the tee, you better be ready to go.¬† You're playing great players, especially that it's on Saturday and those guys have beaten four guys.

Q.  What have you been doing?  Have you been going into town or cabin fever thing and hanging around up here and going crazy?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I've just been hanging around here.

Q.  Wife with you?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, she's with me, which makes it easier.¬† But I haven't‑‑ we haven't really gone into town or anything.¬† The food is great up at the hotel, so no need to really go anywhere for anything better.¬† It's been awesome.¬† The way the rounds‑‑ times I've gotten home, you know, it's really no need to get dressed and go into town, just try to get some sleep.¬† Tomorrow is going to be a long day, so getting a good night of rest is going to be important.

Q.  Has anyone told you what you're missing?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, I have not been told.

Q.  Been on the water slide?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  Probably too big for the water slide.

Q.  Is there a roof on it?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I don't know, I haven't seen it.

Q.  Did you play your way in?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Played the final 3.  16, 17, 18.

Q.  When was the last time you saw those holes, the first day?
HUNTER MAHAN:  First day.

Q.  You said earlier in the week that you worked with Foley to tighten some stuff up.  And it certainly looked like that was the case in your play today.  Are you pretty much done with that, is it integrated or still working on it?
HUNTER MAHAN:  I'll be working on it until I'm 60, probably.  Golf is great because you'll never be done.  There's always work to do.  It always feels like each week is the end, but it's really not.  You've got another week and another week and another week.  There's no end in sight.  I'm always going to have to be working and trying to get better.  There's always going to be a shot that I wish I could hit better and I'll always try to do that.

Q.  Does having won one of these things, WGC things, is that worth anything to you for 20 years, knowing you've played all these guys before, taken them down, different format?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No, it doesn't mean anything.  I wish it did.  That would help a lot.  It's kind of nice to be in this position.  I think when we have these WGC events, it would be cool to have all the trophies.  I think that would be kind of a neat thing.  So being in that position, I kind of think about that.  That would be cool to win one and then you have to win Doral.  Unless they keep adding them, then that's going to make it more difficult.

Q.  China.
HUNTER MAHAN:  Exactly, go to China and South Africa.  No, different format.  It's just really nothing similar, I guess.  But like I said, I wish I did, that would be great.

Q.¬† Americans haven't won recently.¬† How important is it‑‑ at least you guys are guaranteed at least one spot in the finals, is that anything for you?
HUNTER MAHAN:  No.  It doesn't mean anything for me.  Doesn't help me at all.

Q.  You were talking about your short game and DJ's dealt with some of the same issues.  There's always a lot of chatter about whether you guys can chip, the style and technique and all those types of things.  I wonder if you hear it, pay attention to it, if there's any credence to it and whether that's something that makes you mad or makes you want to practice or how you deal with that?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† Yeah, I had‑‑ four years ago, I think I made my first Ryder Cup team.¬† And I couldn't chip it from me to you.¬† It was just‑‑ boy, it was a long‑‑ I kind of remember how it happened.¬† I saw a guy‑‑ because I was curious, boy, I was a good chipper and all of a sudden I kind of lost it.¬† I remember I went and saw somebody and it didn't work out.¬† It's one of those things you keep grinding on, keep working on.¬† And I just kind of kept building and building and building.¬† And all of a sudden I finally felt something and started trusting and I took it to the course.¬† And then I took it to the tournament.¬† And then it felt like, boom, all of a sudden I have all the confidence in the world.¬† You can put me anywhere and I'm going to get it up and down.¬† And it was a long process, but all of a sudden it just like, you know, it just happened.¬† I got to the top and, boom, I got it.

Q.  The short game data didn't work out all that way?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† At the end of the day, it made it worse.¬† I saw people, but at the end of the day, people can give you all the advice in the world and you have to trust it, believe it and you have to do it over and over and over again until it clicks.¬† If you put the work in it will.¬† It's not rocket science.¬† It's not like‑‑ people say it's not like DJ is going to be a bad‑‑ he just can't get good at it, I don't believe that.¬† Anybody that's good at chipping or driving or iron play, there's usually a reason for it, it's not just luck.¬† You just have to find those reasons why and work on it and try to do better.

Q.  When did you turn the corner, do you think?
HUNTER MAHAN:¬† When did I?¬† The end of last year.¬† I was kind of getting it.¬† I would be inconsistent one day, the next day would be good, and the next day not so good.¬† And then I put it together back‑to‑back.¬† Like I said, I put some work in in January and I felt like‑‑ the first tournament at Torrey Pines it was great.¬† I kind of hit the corner probably mid‑January is when I started feeling it when I practiced, I could do it like every day.

Q.  Last month?

Q.  How is it you got good enough to play the Tour and yet you say you can't chip?  Is it not on the level the rest of your game is because you've won on Tour and these guys are so good, if you couldn't do something, you wouldn't be out there?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Well, it's not a contest of skills.  It's a contest of getting the ball in the hole.  We talk about DJ can't chip or hit his wedges, I don't know, he's pretty good.  He could have a couple of Majors in his pocket.  It's about getting the ball in the hole.

Q.¬† That's part of it.¬† Chipping is‑‑
HUNTER MAHAN:  Chipping is part of it, absolutely.  But sometimes you can putt instead of chipping, which I did a lot (laughter).  Sometimes I would be, all right, what can we do here?  We have to get creative, just because I didn't feel good about my chipping.
Like I said, golf is a game of getting the ball in the hole, and it's not about‑‑ I can go to the range‑‑ I mean, I've seen so many good players on the range it's unbelievable.¬† And they can hit it like no one's business.¬† Grant Waite might be the best ball‑striker I've ever seen.¬† And he always had trouble putting.¬† Who knows what it is, I don't know why.¬† But I truly believe that there is an answer.¬† I don't feel like some people are good at this and good at that.¬† You can figure out a way to do it better and work at it and find a solution.¬† I think there's always a solution.¬† I don't think DJ is meant to be a bad chipper.¬† I think he can be a great chipper.¬† And I always felt I could be a good chipper.¬† And I always had to work on it and find the right recipe for success.¬† I finally got it and got confidence in it.¬† It's a step to do it in practice, on the course, and then on the tournament.
On the tournament days, that's a totally different ballgame.  It takes a lot of time and energy and work, but you've got to believe.  If you don't believe, it's never going to happen.

Q.  Were you ever a good chipper?
HUNTER MAHAN:  Yeah, I was.  I knew it would come around, it just took a little time.

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