A Quick 9: Sean O'HairAs a rookie last year, Titleist golf ball player Sean O'Hair broke through for his first career PGA TOUR win at the John Deer Classic. After a final round 6-under 65, O'Hair won by one shot, rounding out a season in which he had three other top 10 finishes, including a runner-up at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. We caught up with Sean for a Quick 9 as he looks forward to defending for the first time at this week's John Deere Classic.
1. How has your win at John Deere changed you?
SO: On the golf course, its given me more confidence in my ability for the future. I've always known I was good enough to play out here, but when you're out here, you're always wondering if and when you're going to win. It definitely came a lot quicker than I thought it would. Off the course, I definitely receive more attention, but my friends treat me no different, which is what you want.
2. Did you splurge on anything after you won the John Deere?
SO: I did. I told my wife that after my first win I was going to buy a car, and not just any car. I wanted to get a sports car. I looked at a lot of cars and ended up buying a Mercedes E55 AMG. It’s an awesome car. I can’t wait to come home from road trips to just take the thing out for a spin. It was probably one of the most rewarding moments for me off the golf course. Just to be able to go into a dealership and cutting a check for a car like that.
3. Do you feel any different coming back to the tournament this year as the defending champion?
SO: I feel like a more complete player. Obviously I'm more experienced, and a big difference now is I'm expected to play well. Last year, as a rookie, there wasn't really any pressure to play well so I'm learning how to deal with winning and the expectations that come with it. If I'm able to do what I think I'm capable of in this game, I'm hoping to deal with winning a lot more often so you have to figure out how to cope with it. For me right now it's more mental than anything and I think that's what separates the best players. If they have a bad week, it's no big deal, and if they're expected to win, they still just go out there and play their game. This last year has been a great learning experience.
4. Consistency is one of the hardest things to find on Tour. What's the difference between being in "the zone," like when you won last year, and not?
SO: When you're in the zone, you just keep everything real simple. If you miss a shot, you know exactly why you missed it. Those times are so much fun. It doesn't matter what's going on around you, you can just block everything out.
5. Who was your idol in golf growing up?
SO: Davis Love. I wanted to emulate him in every way - his swing, his mannerisms, his clubs, clothes. Everything. I actually met him at the Honda Classic for the first time last year and it was definitely a nervous moment. His locker was right next to mine and he was emptying it out and I just went up and introduced myself. It was a lot of fun. He's actually a role model for a lot of juniors. He's a first class guy with a first class game.
6. Do you have any specific warm-up routines before a round?
SO: I'm pretty flexible so it doesn't take me too long to warm up but I usually visit the TOUR trailer to stretch out, mostly my hamstrings and hips. Most days I'll just go out to the range, swing a weighted club, maybe hit a few wedges, and just start hitting balls. I'm looking into getting a personal trainer. I’d like to gain some strength and maybe bulk up a little. It's definitely a big deal and you see it with the best players in the world.
7. What’s the #1 swing fault you see in amateurs and what advice would you give them to crrect it?
SO: The #1 swing fault is definitely swinging too hard. Just because you swing harder, doesn't mean it's going to go further if you hit it off center. Try hitting it 75%. You're more likely to hit the sweet spot and keep a loose grip. Amateurs who try to hit it far tend to be tense, especially in their arms and hands.
8. What do you eat/drink during your rounds?
SO: I try to stay hydrated as much as I can, usually drinking at least 8-9 bottles of fluid per round. I don't like to drink just water, so I’ll mix sports drinks with water - about half and half. I’ll also carry some fruit and energy bars. You definitely need to eat something to sustain you through a long round and stay focused.
9. Where did you take your wife, Jackie, on your first date?
SO: Oh, that’s an embarrassing story. We rented a movie, Pearl Harbor, and went to her townhouse to watch it. She sat on one side of the couch and I sat on the complete opposite side. I don’t think we said two words to each other the whole night!
Now a Quicker Nine...
1. Favorite TOUR stop: John Deere and Byron Nelson
2. Favorite city: Philly
3. Favorite band: U2
4. First car: A 2002 Ford F150
5. Favorite TV shows: Everybody Loves Raymond and King of the Hill
6. Favorite restaurant (where is it?): Sonny’s BBQ in the South or Sullivan’s Steakhouse
7. Favorite movie: Caddyshack, Love Actually
8. Most prized possession: My family. My daughter and my wife.
9. Do you have any superstitions? I don’t play golf balls marked with a 3.
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