What they said: Hunter MahanFebruary 16, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Northern Trust Open transcript archive
LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Hunter Mahan to the interview room, a nice 67 to open things up, and like we've been talking about all day, tough conditions. Maybe just talk about your round and getting off to a good start here.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, obviously when we woke up this morning, the wind was humming pretty good. The course is in perfect shape right now. The greens are rolling very true. They're not too fast because if they were it would be pretty difficult to play with the wind. But it's perfect conditions right now. Definitely the last-- probably the last seven holes the wind started to die down progressively, and by the end, it couldn't be playing any nicer or any better. So I was excited to come make some birdies late.
I hit it good all day, just a couple loose swings, but other than that, it was very solid from tee to green, and put myself in good position all day to kind of make putts.
Q. Do you feel like you got the better end of the swing, playing late and getting those last seven or eight holes in not-so-bad wind that everybody else had??
HUNTER MAHAN: Probably. You know, I don't know how it was this morning. I don't know when the wind started to pick up. But the last probably five holes were about as good a weather as we're ever going to see. So it feels like it. It was nice to kind of take advantage, to hit a lot of good shots and make some putts when I did, because it's a difficult golf course. It's not easy. You don't have to hit a really bad shot to put yourself in a bad spot.
Q. Can you take us through the four straight birdies at the end? What did it feel like, and just describe the last four.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. I felt like I was close to getting a string going. The course is in great shape and the greens are holding just enough to where you can hit it close. The pins were pretty accessible for the last few holes. I think it started on 5. I made a long putt on 5. I was pretty much kind of pin high, probably 40 feet short, new green, probably the hardest pin right there on the front right, and I hit a good putt, and it went right in the middle.
Next hole, the par-3, hit it pin high, probably 15, 20 feet, and it looked high 99 percent of the way, and it just had the perfect speed where it caught that left lip and kind of drug it in the hole.
Next hole I hit a 6-iron in there to about three, four feet. Hit a really nice shot into there.
Next hole I hit another 6-iron to about 12 feet and made a good read and made a good putt.
Q. Did you play this course a lot when you were growing up? How long were you in Orange, and then the year when you were at USC did you play here much?
HUNTER MAHAN: No, I didn't play here much as a kid. I came here quite a bit for the tournament and I always enjoyed this golf course. I played here a couple times when I was at USC, and it's just a throwback golf course. It's not 7,500 yards. It's not these big, massive greens. It's just kind of-- the greens are in great shape, got some small ones, got some big ones, got some birdie holes, got some tough holes, par-3s are great, got some long par-3s, a couple short ones, just a great design, really tests every aspect of your game.
If you look at the list of champions, there have been long hitters, short hitters. It's a great golf course that doesn't favor anybody. It favors good quality iron shots and good golf.
Q. And do you remember the first year you came to watch??
HUNTER MAHAN: No, I was probably 11 or 12 is my guess.
Q. Your father obviously took you here when you were a kid??
HUNTER MAHAN: I hitchhiked, just walked. I figured that was going to be the best way to get here (laughter).
He took me, absolutely. This was always the best field in golf, so this was always a great place to come out here and watch a lot of great players from pretty much all over the world to come and play. This was always a great spot.
I remember at USC I think we volunteered here, so we were kind of working the range and kind of helping out the golf tournament at that time.
Q. Did your parents come out today??
HUNTER MAHAN: They didn't come out today. They're coming out on the weekend.
Q. And your dad is really an undercover policeman??
HUNTER MAHAN: I can't tell you that. He was. He's not anymore. He did that for a short time.
Q. How old were you when your family left Orange County, and I guess your parents have moved back here; is that correct??
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes, I was 13 when we moved from Orange County to Texas, and they moved back here a couple-- probably three years ago, I guess.
Q. When did you hit into 18 today? The wind was still blowing, wasn't it?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, we were like 217, adjusted 224 or something like that. I tried to hit kind of a-- I don't know what kind of 3-wood, kind of tried to take a little spin. It's a difficult green. It runs left to right pretty aggressively. You miss it left, it's a hard chip. It's still running away from you. You miss it right, everything kicks right, and the cart path is right there, which I hit, so it kind of knocks the ball a little bit further away from the hole, which is not ideal. So it's a-- I don't know, it looks wide up there, but it's not wide. It's kind of hitting up into that slope and the wind kind of coming down on top of you, it's a squirrelly second shot.
Q. Without the wind, guys hit 7-irons in there.
HUNTER MAHAN: Absolutely, yeah, we've hit 6 and 7s and if you bomb it you can get 8 or 9s in there for sure. By the time we were playing today it was humming pretty good. Yeah, it was a struggle to hit a good quality iron shot in there.
Q. Phil has it rolling again today after obviously a strong finish at Pebble. As a guy that competes against him a lot, when you see that, does it make you put a little extra pressure to go out and do what you do today, make a lot of birdies and kind of hang in there with him??
HUNTER MAHAN: Not too much. I mean, this is a-- Phil is a great player. He's going to do what he does. He's had success last week and winning here. But it's too early to kind of worry about him. Back nine on Sunday maybe you can-- if it's me and him down the stretch I might worry about it more. But just trying to hit-- just playing good golf, keep doing what I'm doing right now. I don't want to think too much about Phil because he's a stud of a player, and it would be great to compete with him on Sunday. That would be really a lot of fun.
Q. I saw your Golf Boys video. Is that the only one, or is there a sequel??
HUNTER MAHAN: That is the only one. We haven't shot anything else. That's the only one as of right now.
Q. Any plans for any more??
HUNTER MAHAN: Maybe in the future. I don't know, people are calling for it. They liked it. We may. To say it was a surprise, the reaction, would be-- I mean, it was incredible, the reaction we've had and how much people liked it. But it's difficult because how do you come back from something like that, duplicate it. I mean, it would be tough to kind of trump that, I think.
Q. The Beatles did it.
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, we have talent elsewhere, I think. The Beatles kind of trump us in talent, musical talent. So hopefully-- I don't know, it was just fun to do. I think it made people laugh. I don't know, we try to not take ourselves so seriously, which was the whole point, and it had a good reaction.
Q. Was there any reaction, I was at Pebble when everybody obviously did the Phil, Tiger thing and the big TV audience. Did the players themselves in the locker room like on Monday or Tuesday here discuss that or they don't think of what other guys were doing??
HUNTER MAHAN: No, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion. I think amongst the amateurs probably Wednesday there were. There was, what do you think about Tiger, stuff like that. I didn't even know they were playing together until my caddie told me. I didn't hear about it. I thought I would have heard about it before then.
But I'm sure Tiger really didn't like watching Phil make all those birdies, that's for sure, because that was a great tournament by Phil. That was really-- that final round was pretty impressive. That course was setting up for it, too, because the conditions were pretty good, and you can get on a streak there pretty quick those first few holes, and boy, Phil played a very impressive final round. I think Tiger has made huge strides and big progress, and I think he's on the right path, it just didn't click that day.
LAURA HILL: Hunter, thanks for coming down. Good luck the rest of the week.