I’m Hunter Mahan – six-time PGA TOUR winner, proud husband to Kandi and father to Zoe and Miller. Born a Lakers fan from California, Dallas is home for me now. I love talking all things food, cars, and college sports. Go Pokes!
Victoria’s going to be helping me out over the phone today. AMAA!
Update: I would just like to thank the fans for the questions, and continued support for the length of my career. And you can always stay in touch with me at @HunterMahan on Twitter, and through http://mahangolf.com
Hunter – I’ve been yelling solely at you for 4 years between 16 green and 17 tee at the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale. Do you ever actually hear me and why does Marcus Smart flop so much?
I do hear that guy! The last couple of years!
And I appreciate your humor, because we get to hear a lot of things that aren’t very funny, and are somewhat derogatory, but it’s always funny to hear somebody say something – not personal, but i can understand your frustration.
And I would say: that’s just basketball. And that’s how basketball’s played nowadays. Flopping is a part of the game. Get used to it.
If your wife went into labor while you were in the lead of the masters, would you keep playing?
Umm… it depends on where I was in the tournament, I guess! If I’m playing the back nine, or if I’m just starting my round, or if I’m sleeping on it, most of the time I’d come home, unless I had just a few holes left – then I’d finish up and head out of there.
Who is the worst person to play with on tour and why is it Rory Sabbatini?
Well, I wouldn’t say it’s Rory Sabbatini. I know why people would say that, but I don’t have a problem with Rory, and I think the worst person can depend on the mood you’re in! Sometimes I’m the worst person to play with, haha! The only person who can stop you from having a good time is yourself.
You have finished top 10 in every major. Which tournament do you think will most likely yield your first major championship?
I think that first, the US Open compliments me very well, and it’s a great tournament that I obviously want to win, and it has the best players in the world, so it’s one that suits my game very well.
Who is the funniest guy in the clubhouse or on the course?
I would say Matt Kuchar – because he’s pretty willing to say anything at any given moment, no matter the situation! Even if we’re at a big event, or the US open, he can always lighten the mood in just the right way. And everyone is comfortable around him. He’s a guy that makes everyone laugh, all the time.
Congrats on your win at the Barclays last year. I vividly remember watching you as you waited to tee off on the 17th after a bit of a wait and it struck me how calm and focused you looked. What’s it like to get to that place of calm and what do you do to keep it there when the nerves are creeping in?
I try to remember “this is the one shot that I’m playing right now. I can’t win the golf tournament on this shot. I can only hit this shot as good as I can hit it.”
I try to focus on good posture, and good alignment, and then trust the work that I’ve put into my game.
Someone asked what it was like to play the final round on a Sunday: Well, obviously the tension is jacked up quite a bit. Everybody starts talking a bit less on the range before the round, the banter on the round is much less. And you can feel the tension throughout the air. And when you feel that as a player, you have to remind yourself that it’s still one round of golf. And trust your abilities as the most important thing.
Did you ever fix the Barclays trophy and how much duct tape did you use?
Well, luckily, Barclays was very nice about the trophy breaking, knowing it was an accident and not my fault, so they got a replica to me, and so it’s safe and sound and perfectly in one piece.
What was the oddest thing someone asked you to autograph?
Umm…. I think… a person’s shoes? Like, they took their shoes off their feet at a tournament, because they didn’t have anything to sign, and said “Here, just sign my shoes.”
I signed ’em. I’m a people-pleaser.
What’s the best part about playing in the Masters?
Oh! EVERYTHING. I think the fact that – soon as you’re in the Masters, you know, you have the ability to go play there whenever you want. I’m going to go play there this weekend, this Sunday and Monday, so just the fact that I can call up and just show up and play – it’s such a privilege and an honor. Every time I go to Augusta, I get excited to play golf.
If you had to give all of us advice on how to improve our game, what one thing is the most important?
I would say – your setup is the most important part of your golf swing. Good posture, good setup, and good alignment are things you can control before you pull the club back. After that, I think rhythm and tempo are extremely important. And always trying to get to your finish in a very collective manner.
You were on two good Ryder Cup teams in 2008 (congrats on the only win in a while) and 2010, what do you think went wrong with last years? Also, when are we getting Golf Boys 3.0?
Well, we were… in 2008, we had a great leader and captain, Paul Azinger, and he had a very specific plan for us, and we knew that plan on Monday of that week, and from there, we just got prepared to play golf.
There was very little to figure out after that point. We just had to prepare ourselves to play the best golf we could.
And for Golf Boys… it’s very difficult to get 4 guys together who have 7 kids total, and competing schedules. It’s tough to get us all together in the same place. So I see no plans at this given juncture.
What kind of clubs did you use growing up and what is your favorite club you’ve ever used?
Well, when I was growing up, my dad would buy me any clubs that he thought would make me a better player. I used everything when I was a kid – every club that’s probably ever been made. And then when I went to college, I started using Ping irons, and kinda developed a relationship with Ping through the college I went to, Oklahoma State, and been using them ever since my sophomore year of college. And I still think they make the best clubs on the planet to this day.
What are some examples of swing thoughts that you use or have used while playing in tournaments? Or if you have any current ones, what are they?
One swing thought, right now, is to have a steeper shoulder-turn on the way back, on my backswing.
And pushing off my right foot and keeping my right heel on the ground on the downswing.
Which major this year are you most looking forward to?
Good question. Probably… the old course, at St. Andrew’s, the British open.
Do you think that the pick of Davis Love as the next U.S. captain will bring us a win in 2016?
Well, I hope so! I don’t care who’s the captain, I just hope the US wins in 2016! I heard he was an excellent captain in 2012, there were a lot of good candidates, and I know guys are really responsive to his leadership, and I think he’s going to be very motivated, since losing in the Ryder Cup is very painful.
Who are the most fun players on the tour?
Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas and Fred Couples. Duff’s wit and intelligence always blows me away.
If you could pick any celebrity to team up with to play a round of 18, who would you pick?
The great American patriot Tom Brady.
Do you have any sort of pre-round routine, either the night before or during the day leading up to your tee time?
Bulletproof coffee in the morning, get to the course 2-2.5h before the round, see my trainer for 30-minute warm-up and stretch, and then eat about an hour and a half before the round. I start out with putting, then short-game and then I head to the range before I tee off.
If you had to give a 15 year old golfer one tip, what would it be?
Be the best putter in the world.
What one hole do you find the most challenging personally?
You know, we get to play a lot of great holes. I think the 10th hole at Riviera, we just played last week, is really one of the toughest holes in golf. I’ve played it for 10 years now, and I’ve seen sixes and sevens from world-class players with wedges in their hands, and guys hitting bunker shots back and forth, so I haven’t seen the right way to play it. So I’ll go through 4 rounds, try to play it even par.
What course has the best food at the turn?
Well, usually there’s not too much food at the turn, we have to bring our own food. But the best food at the clubhouse is probably the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, and they have these “buckeyes”- these little peanut butter like chocolate-covered treats they have for us, and they’re pretty delicious, and it’s hard not to grab 2 or 3 when you walk by ’em!
Does the golf ball go too far these days resulting in classic courses being obsolete for pros? What’s your favorite design on tour?
Um – no I don’t think the ball goes too far making classic courses obsolete. The technology of the grasses, and the fact that we can speed up the greens almost as fast as we want, it still requires great talent from core players. And I think classic courses – the older the golf course, the more I usually appreciate them and enjoy playing them. Riviera is one of my favorite golf courses on tour, and it’s one of the oldest ones we get to play, and six-under, they did very little to make the course super-difficult.
When you are on course how much do you eat/drink? Also do you take anything to increase you ability to concentrate?
Nutrition is a big part of my life, as a professional athlete. You really can’t drink enough water on the golf course. And I think it’s good to take a supplement like BioSteel on the golf course. And eating as much as you can on the golf course is hugely important. I try to eat mixed nuts and dried fruit, and maybe an almond butter sandwich while I’m playing.
What are some things I can do to work on the mental side of my game?
Well, without knowing your mental difficulties – we all have mental hurdles in golf, and in life, and I think you need to practice the way you want to play. I think that practice doesn’t really affect playing that much, but how you react in practice is how you’re going to react when you play in competition, so you always need to remind yourself of that when you go to the golf course, that’s how you’re going to work.
When did you know that you were good enough to play professinal golf?
Um… boy! I think… when I was in college, when I was in my sophomore year, I felt like I could, but it wasn’t until I won that I knew I could compete at the highest level.
What is one thing I can do to make golf more enjoyable?
I would say challenge yourself. Try the hardest shot possible. Challenge yourself to become a better player.
What is your favourite course in the UK? And do you enjoy the different challenges of links golf?
I really enjoy playing links golf. Every day is a new day, when you play links golf. And how you adjust to the challenges from a mental and physical perspective is what’s gonna separate you from everyone else.
And Carnoustie Golf Links!
What was it like to get your first PGA win in my home town at River Highlands?
It was, no doubt, a dream come true. It’s hard to explain, but it just… to win it in the fashion I did, in a playoff, and with the first playoff hole, it really meant a lot to me, I felt like i really went out and won the tournament, and didn’t wait for someone to give it to me.
If you could be equally as successful in any other profession, what profession would it be and why?
Probably something with sports? My brother and I always joke that we would love to run a professional sports team, maybe an NFL team. That would be a lot of fun to do. That would be right up our alley. Or just talk about sports like on a radio show. I listen to “The Herd” every morning, and the host Colin Cowherd is one of my heroes.
I would love to get out and play a few holes with you. Do you ever get out with your fans?
I have before! My schedule now with 2 kids and traveling on tour and everything is difficult to say the least. But it is always humbling to play with fans and I get to host a junior tournament with the AJGA, and it’s always fun to talk to them, and hang out with junior golfers that -where I was in the same position as they are, gosh, 15 years ago.
Who was the most fun amateur you played with in a pro-am??
You know, we get to play pro-ams every single week, and I’ve played with a lot of good guys. Pfffft!
I would say that I got to play with Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, and he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and he’s in charge of a multlbillion dollar company and you’d never know by meeting him.
How much would you say you practice each day?
Probably 5-6 hours of practice. That’s kind of my limit on fully in-tune practicing.
What’s your favorite course to play in Virginia? and in the US?
In Virginia? Oh boy!
Well, I used to play a junior tournament in Roanoke, Virginia, and I think I played there 3 times, and won it once, and had 2 of their top 5s, and I always loved that tournament because they gave us a gift certificate into the pro shop, and it was usually quite a bit of money – and you could buy anything you wanted! I can’t recall absolutely what the course was called, but I loved it, one of my favorite spots.
And my favorite place to play in the US? I love to play Pebble Beach. There’s no place that’s more beautiful when you have the right day. This past year was some of the best weather we’ve ever had at Pebble, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.
What is your preferred ball flight? Judging by your swing it would seem you favor a slight cut, but I would like to know specifically how you like to work the ball.
Well, I actually like to draw the ball preferably?
For some reason I have a hard time starting a ball left of the target, so I like to hit nice push-draws.
How hard is it to be a Dad and a pro golfer? Do your kids travel with you during the season or do you go home ever week?
Having a couple-week old child and leaving them is hard. Because you feel like you’re leaving your responsibilities at home. But after the first 6-8 weeks, he can travel, and my family travels 90% of the time with me.
What is the worst part about being a professional Golf player?
The worst part is having to leave your family. And in the future – missing out on basketball games, or soccer games, or something like that, that would be the hardest part.