Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's O'Hair's week to defend at the Deere

It was a year ago this week that Sean O'Hair,PGA Tour rookie from West Chester, won his first tournament, the John Deere Classic.

As he prepares to defend his titlle, here are excerpts from O'Hair's pre-tourhament interview on Tuesday.

Q. Last year coming in here you talked about you were kind of struggling coming in and I think you went to the borders or Barnes & Noble and bought some
books. Anything similar this year, are you searching for anything?
No, it's actually the exact opposite. I think the goal for me this week, I'm playing so well and I'm hitting the ball so well, just not to put
the pressure on myself to try and make something happen. My game is about as good as it's been all year. I'll actually excited. I'm just going to go out and
have fun, and hopefully the results fall in my lap.

Q. You've mentioned at times having to deal with distractions, especially earlier in the year. Are those having to do with being the Rookie of the Year and a
first time winner?
Yeah, I put a lot of distractions on myself as far as the expectation level and what I did last year and trying to out do it this year, instead
of just focusing on what I need to focus on, which is improving my game and just going about my routines and stuff like that. I was going out to each
tournament trying to win. Not saying that I'm not trying to win every event, but there's a certain way to go about it, and for me it's just a matter of going
about the process instead of worrying about the results, and whenever I worry about results, I tend to put a little too much pressure on myself.
That's kind of what the goal is this week. You know, playing so well, you can kind of get in a frame of mind of, well, I should do this or I should do that,
and the expectation level kind of goes sky high. I think for me right now, I'm just going to try to get the expectation level down so I can just go out and
play and enjoy it because my game is there, it's just a matter of doing it.

Q. Did something click in the last month or so?
You know, I've been working really, really hard. I got a new coach obviously at Doral, and our communication has been phenomenal since Doral.
I've been learning about my swing and what makes my swing work and what my tendencies are, and I just think this past month has kind of been a byproduct of a
lot of hard work and good communication on the team.
I had a new guy on the bag last week, and that worked out well. I'm just trying to build a team and kind of get my game going a little bit so I can kind of
get in a routine of hopefully at the end of the year I'll be contending more and more because I haven't really done it much this year.

Q. Who is the teacher?
Gary Gilchrist.

Q. Why the change?
I think with a teacher a lot of things have to mesh, you know, communication, time that you're able to spend with him, understanding what he's
teaching, and that just clicked better with Gary. That's why I changed. (Translation: Leadbetter has hitched his start to Michelle Wie, prompting other clients to complain they get no time).

Q. Last year was like a big breakthrough, big emotional breakthrough and golfing breakthrough. Has that had the momentum to carry through for a while, and
what have you done to replace it? It's been a year.
You mean the momentum?

Q. Yeah.
Momentum is great. You try to ride it out whenever you can, whenever you've got it. I think at the beginning of this year, like I said, with all
the expectation level and everything that results weren't there, and so the momentum was actually the opposite; I was more in a rut and I was trying to fight
my way out of it. I've been in a lot of ruts in my career and I'm used to working my way out of it.
I wasn't concerned about it at all, and now I'm starting to see the results of a lot of hard work, like I said, so you know, whenever you're playing well,
you just try to ride it out, and when you're playing bad, you just try to ride it out. That's the funny thing about this game is that you're going to have
your good spurts and you're going to have your bad spurts. I'm just kind of going from there.

Q. How many caddies have you had since changing from Steve?

Just Bobby Verwey and then a guy this week, David Brooker.

Q. Do you know who he's been with?
Grace Park for the last four years, five years.

Q. What's been your mindset coming in as a defending champion?
You mean what's my strategy? Just go out and make a lot of birdies. I guess my goal at the beginning of the year was to hopefully be peaking at
this time because obviously next week is the British, and I'd like to start contending for majors. I think I played well in the U.S. Open, but that's really
the only major I've played well in. I just kind of wanted to peak at this time because this is my kind of time where I start playing well, and my game right
now is as good as it's been. It's kind of, I guess, the goal I've accomplished the goal, now it's just a matter of getting out of my own way and just
playing. Like I said, hopefully the results fall in my lap.

Q. Did you make changes with Gary?
SEAN O'HAIR: Swing changes?

Q. Yeah.
Yeah, a little bit here and there. Early in the year I was trying to rotate the club on plane going back early in the year, and that just is not
for me. I was taught to keep the face a little more square, and that's kind of what we've been working on, just trying to keep the club square and keep the
club in front of me and work on my release, releasing under instead of around.
I was trying to flatten out things early in the year, and that's just not for me. I learned quickly that that's not what my swing is all about, so I'm going
with what works for me. I've been hitting the ball better than I have my whole career. And I've done it more consistently, I mean, every day, for the past
six weeks I've been hitting it pure.
I've played fairly well in every event except for the Hartford, which I kind of had some caddie issues at the Hartford. It's just a matter of putting and
getting my head out of my out of the way (laughter).

Q. You talked about wanting to contend a little bit more in majors. How much do you know about the two venues that are going to host the two remaining venues
this year, and being in Chicago last week did you go over and see Medinah?
No, I didn't. I know nothing about them. I'm very much looking forward to the British. It's my favorite, to be honest with you. It's what golf
should be about, and it's about hitting shots, hitting low shots, hitting high shots, hitting different clubs. I'm pretty excited about it.
I've heard it's a fairly flat golf course. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I've heard. Certainly if the wind gets up, it's going to be
just a typical British Open, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Are you a year older and wiser in a sense, given what your last year has been, things that you experienced that you otherwise wouldn't have being a
champion here?
Yeah, I feel like a better player in general. Do I feel older? I was actually looking at some pictures with my wife when I was home last, and I
actually look younger in the pictures, and that was kind of a scary thought. You know, thank God I'm not Zach's age (laughter). He's getting over the hill.
But I'm getting there.

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