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Can Hanson Pull it Off?


Peter Hanson is in, admittedly, an unfamiliar position. The tall Swede enters the final round of the Masters with a one-stroke edge over wily Augusta National veteran, Phil Mickelson, who's already the proud owner of three green jackets.

"It's a new situation to me," Hanson said after carding the low round of the tournament, a magnificent 7-under 65 Saturday that gave him the tournament's 54-hole lead at 9-under 207. "I've been up on the leaderboard a few times, but I've never led in anything like this."

He's also aware of Mickelson's track record at Augusta and the tenuous position he's in entering Sunday. "I don't think it matters too much in the situation we're in, with Phil being on the leaderboard, as well. I think if it would have been someone else, it might be harder to sleep on a lead. I know a one shot lead over Mickelson is pretty much nothing. I don't think it matters too much."

Hanson really has nothing to lose. After all, in his only previous Masters - in 2011, he didn't make the weekend cut. But we'll soon find out about the 34-year-old, who starts the final round alongside Mickelson at 2:40 p.m. ET.

Here are Hanson's insights into what he's thinking being teeing off with Lefty, and what his chances for becoming the first Swede to ever be fitted for a green jacket.

MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Peter Hanson to the interview room. Peter from Sweden had an extraordinary round of 65 today, low round of the Tournament, leader at 9 under par here, and playing in only his second Masters appearance. Terrific round today, Peter. Maybe you could open up with some comments about your play.

PETER HANSON: Yeah, it was a little bit better of a start than yesterday. Yesterday I started with a double on the first. Today I managed to make a bogey, so that was good. Going on the second hole, I hit a nice drive, 3 wood middle of the green and two-putted for birdie and kind of eased into the round. From there I was just trying to do the boring stuff. Try to hit every shot and just put it in play off the tee and hit greens and give myself some good chances. It was just one of those rounds that turned into a great round.

Q. Can you describe the atmosphere, Phil making the eagle behind you; I'm sure you were pretty aware of what was going on out there and you were lighting it up yourself.

PETER HANSON: Definitely, that was one of those special kind of Masters moments that I've been watching so many times TV wise. You hear the crowd going wild he made the eagle. It kind of helped me on 14. I'm standing in the middle of the fairway and I feel him breathing down my neck a little bit and manage to get mine close on 14 and picked up another birdie on 15. Yeah, we actually had to wait quite a bit today on the group behind, which is not very common, but we had to wait for them to play into the green behind us and for the crowd to settle down and then we could play. I guess we were a little bit behind the group in front.

PETER HANSON: Definitely, that was one of those special kind of Masters moments that I've been watching so many times TV wise. You hear the crowd going wild he made the eagle. It kind of helped me on 14. I'm standing in the middle of the fairway and I feel him breathing down my neck a little bit and manage to get mine close on 14 and picked up another birdie on 15. Yeah, we actually had to wait quite a bit today on the group behind, which is not very common, but we had to wait for them to play into the green behind us and for the crowd to settle down and then we could play. I guess we were a little bit behind the group in front. Q. What's it going to be like sleeping on the lead at the Masters?

PETER HANSON: I don't know. (Laughing). It's going to be tough. It's a new situation to me. I've been up on the leaderboard a few times, but I've never led in anything like this, and we'll see what happens towards the end of the day. But it looks like me and Phil are now in the last group. If nothing happens Louis is 7 under. Yeah, we'll see what happens. I know it's going to be a tough night and just try to do the normal stuff. I've got my two kids here and my wife, so just try to stay in the house and cook in, and like I said, I probably won't be watching a lot of Golf Channel or stuff. Just trying to stay away from all that and try to get as much sleep as I can and try to be ready for tomorrow.

Q. You talked about the crowd noise from Phil's shots inspiring you and making you focus; will it be the same thing if you're playing with him in the same final pairing?

PETER HANSON: Yeah, I mean, it's a good question, because I played with Phil the first couple of days, and I was trying to use that as a bit of motivation for me, as well. I mean, the crowds are so much behind Phil and they love him, and I understand why; the way he plays, when we see that lob shot that we looked at so close on 15 there. I'm just going to try to enjoy it. Like I said, I tried to stay pretty close to him the first couple of days and let it feed off a little bit. It's great playing in front of these fans and it's just an amazing feeling.

Q. Can you describe what it's like when you have a day like today, sort of a magical day; does it seem like everything is working? Are you in a zone, as they sometimes say? Did you feel that at all?

PETER HANSON: I think so. The last four or five holes when everything seemed to be going right; from 12, I hit a little chip 8 iron in there and 14 I hit a pitching wedge to two feet and then made that putt on 15; another putt on 17 and the approach shot on 18. It feels like you just have to make a good swing, make a good stroke and the ball seemed to just find the hole some way. It's just so nice to get into that people call it the zone or that peak performance, and I think I was pretty close to that today.

Q. How closely were you able to see Phil's shot on 15? And you were in the same, or pretty close to the same spot. Wonder if you can talk about the shot you faced and then what you saw, the way he played it. I guess you're not considering that one?

PETER HANSON: Yeah, to be honest, I never saw that high flop shot from there. I guess Phil is so great with that 64 degree, and I actually spoke to Bones about it before we teed off now today, because he's got an eight , ten degree gap between his 52 and his 60 degree. He's just amazing with the wedges and the way he plays those shots. When I ended up in that same spot on 15, I just sought the bump and run and get it past the hole and leave myself an uphill putt. He goes up and just hits a full swing and goes straight up in the air. He has a few shots around the green that I'm not even close to. I just have to play my game and work around this golf course the absolute best I can.

Q. Two shots; the putt on 17, what did you see there, and the approach on 18.

PETER HANSON: 17, I actually got a little bit of help from Badds when he chipped up there. I thought that putt was going to be a little bit quicker than it was, and when I see it coming the same line as mine, I walked up, paid close attention and saw what happened. I got a nice feel about the break and that I could hit it a little more aggressive than I probably would have. 18 was just a perfect number, a 6 iron from 207 I guess. So it was just perfect, trying to land it just into the slope. If it goes up on top, great. Otherwise, you just leave yourself a putt going up.

Q. What's been the difference this year? You've had the two WGCs where you played quite well. Did that give you a new level of confidence? What's been the difference in you this year, because you look like a different player this year.

PETER HANSON: I hope so. I think I'm coming into the peak of - maybe age wise, as well, and know where I am and getting close to 35 years old. I don't know, I think moving here; when I took that decision, 2 1/2, three years ago, moving to the States and giving myself good practice facilities down in Orlando, Lake Nona, I think my game has improved steadily since then. But I think it's starting to show off now. Maybe getting a little bit more comfortable in these kind of situations. Like you said, I had a good finish down in Doral, and I think Ryder Cup helped quite a bit, as well, getting so close to the best players in the world. It's just nice to spend a full week with guys like Tiger and Phil and Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. I'm just trying to learn from them.

Q. On the telecast they were talking about how you put the No.17 on your golf ball in honor of your son. Can you explain what that's about and what it means?

PETER HANSON: 17 is actually my boy's birthday. He's born the 17th of November and in Europe we do the 24 hour clock so he was actually born 17:17; so 17 minutes past 5:00PM. In Europe, that turns out 17:17.

Q. And putting it on the golf ball?

PETER HANSON: I did it pretty close after his birthday. So when he was born 1 1/2 years ago now, I asked the guys at TaylorMade to put that on the ball and they have been nice enough to do it. His name is Tim.

Q. Playing with Yani Tseng, wonder if any of her winning has rubbed off on you.

PETER HANSON: I just started working with Gary now Christmastime, so we are pretty early on in our way. I always see Gary as not only a swing coach and technical coach; he's more of a mental coach, as well. He was here for two days doing preparation this week. I think it helps, for him to have someone like Yani that is so superior in ladies golf, maybe feeds off a little bit. I've been practicing a lot with her, but unfortunately I haven't had the time to play with her yet.

Q. What's the latest you've been able to sleep in Sunday at a major?

PETER HANSON: I don't know. U.S. Open has been my best major so far. I had a good chance last year finishing second. I think we all tried to play for second when Rory was ten shots ahead. U.S. Open so far has been my best major, and I kind of like the way they set up the golf course, long and tough. Not too low of scoring. So I think that really helped me this week, was all; that we have not seen those really low scores, get to go 15 under par, 14 under par.

Q. You've played Phil in singles in The Ryder Cup. What was that like?

PETER HANSON: That was hard, because the day before we played, he actually got the worst Ryder Cup record in the history of wins/losses. He came out so hungry and desperate to win. So he started off with four straight birdies and just killed me by 3 & 2. So I had no chance. (Laughing).

Q. Phil will sometimes play chess in the morning with his kids. What will you do to kill some of the some time tomorrow?

PETER HANSON: We have a great house here, so probably spend time with the kids. We have a nice house with toys in the backyard and playground. I'll take it pretty easy. To me the key thing is try to not watch too much of the buzz around this, because I know there will be. Just try to stay away from it and come up here tomorrow and do my normal routine with my putting before lunch and do my stuff and then get to the range and try to just enjoy the moment on the first tee. If it turns out I'm playing with Phil, I'm really looking forward to that. And like I said, he would be the big time favorite to win, so I kind of see myself still as a little bit of an underdog. So just see what happens.

Q. How much of an escape is your family?

PETER HANSON: Very much. Days like this is great, of course. But even the days you're not playing very well, when you come back home, you see your kids; so you kind of easier forget. It's easier to get along with what happened on the golf course.

Q. If you feel your game is better suited to a U.S. Open, are you surprised by a 65?

PETER HANSON: Yeah, I have to say very surprised. I think this golf course is unbelievably challenging. Like I said, to shoot 65 around here, I've been watching this tournament since I was a young kid, and you know, seeing Freddie Couples and the guys go and shoot 30 and 31 on the back nine is something you just dream about.

Q. What's your thinking about not watching the Golf Channel tonight, and if you would watch, what do you think the analysis would be?

PETER HANSON: I don't know. It's just - I think it's - my first U.S. Open I played, 2005, I came over here and I watched all of the buildup to it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, almost as a spectator to the event. It was great, to listen to that and see how they analyze everything. But I think as a player, sometimes too much information is not very good.

Q. What other sports did you play growing up?

PETER HANSON: I played quite a lot of tennis. That's actually what I wanted to be growing up. We had a great Swedish run there from Björn Borg and Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander from growing up, I wanted to be a tennis player and I very quickly found out I wasn't good enough. I played golf since a young age, since I was nine, ten years old. And actually my coach that taught me how to play the game, he's here this week. That's good fun. So when I was 14, 15, I decided, well, I'll skip the tennis and try to go full time with the golf.

Q. What's your coach's name?

PETER HANSON: Jan Larsson.

Q. What was the problem with tennis? Did you not have the quickness?

PETER HANSON: I think I grew up at a club where we had a lot of good players, same age as me, and they actually one of them ended up playing on the Tour and the other is a very successful coach. I was always a little bit behind those two, and I think that's what happened. I felt I wasn't good enough, and then I had a bit of success playing golf on the Junior side and won the Swedish Championship as a 15 year old and got on the national team. And so it was just taking it step by step by step.

Q. You started this tournament playing with Phil. Talk about what you'll be expecting if you're playing with him tomorrow.

PETER HANSON: Yeah, I think it's going to be a very challenging day tomorrow if I have the lead when we come in, everybody is done. It's going to be a long night and a long morning tomorrow. But if I end up playing with Phil, I think it's going to be great. We've played a lot of golf together, and it's just great to play in front of big crowds like it is here, and with all the support being behind him, hopefully it can feed off a little bit towards me, as well.

Q. What will you have to manage tomorrow?

PETER HANSON: Emotions, of course. That's going to be the biggest thing. This is kind of a new situation to me, being in the spotlight like this, and playing the last group. So it's going to be about controlling my emotions and trying to be in the present and trying to play the same kind of golf that I've been doing today.

Q. What has most prepared for tomorrow?

PETER HANSON: I think it's just the long run, all the work that we put into this and all the practice and preparation. But I think you have to get into this kind of environment to actually know how you're going to handle it, and I think that's going to be a big, big test for me tomorrow.

Q. You've been playing so great this year. How is that going to translate to tomorrow?

PETER HANSON: I think it will help me a lot. Actually getting on the Ryder Cup team a couple of years back, that was probably the first time I got on the back stage. And playing well early this year in the Middle East and then World Golf Championships, it's kind of stepped it up to a new level and I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable playing here in front of big crowds, and hopefully that can help me tomorrow.

Q. We were talking the other day about the fact that you moved to Florida, got a lot more practice time. Do you feel maybe there was some untapped potential that you were able to tap into?

PETER HANSON: I think so. I love the countryside, and the way I've been brought up back in Sweden, I've always enjoyed the fall and the winter with all the hunting and fishing and stuff like that, but I also kind of feel now that it was too much of that, and being over here, we're pretty much walking out every day 30 yards from my house, I've got a perfect putting green, the range in front and the balls are out there, so the people down at Lake Nona, they do a great job, and I think it really helped my career to where it is now.

Q. What's the most important thing you have to do tomorrow?

PETER HANSON: Actually control my emotions, like I said before. I think that's going to be the key thing, and trying to stay as calm as I can. It's hard to enjoy the moment, but I'm actually going to try to enjoy it. If I end up may go with Phil, walking down these fairways would be amazing.

Q. Would you rather play with the lead or pursue?

PETER HANSON: I don't think it matters too much in the situation we're in, with Phil being on the leaderboard, as well. I think if it would have been someone else, it might be harder to sleep on a lead. I know a one shot lead over Mickelson is pretty much nothing. I don't think it matters too much.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.