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January 17 2013

8:50 PM

Hahn always stayed focused on goal

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- James Hahn has known he wanted to play the PGA TOUR since he was 9 years old. There were times, though, that the dream must have seemed elusive.

The 31-year-old, who graduated from Cal-Berkley in 2003, fueled his golf career by working at an advertising agency, earning a realtor's license and selling women's shoes at Nordstrom. Hahn played on what is now known as PGA TOUR Canada, in Korea and on the Web.com Tour, too.

But he never lost sight of his goal, and Thursday, in just the rookie's second start of the season, Hahn found himself tied for the lead at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

Hahn fired a 63 on the Palmer Course at PGA West, which is considered the most challenging of the three in the tournament rotation, to move to the top of the leaderboard with Roberto Castro and Jason Kokrak. He went out in 30 -- eventually making five straight birdies as he made the turn -- and gained a ton of confidence in the process.

"Today was a great day," Hahn said. "I have nothing to complain about. But selling women's shoes I would come home, there's some good stories I could tell you, maybe go grab a beer in the back or something I would rattle them off to you.
 
"But I've had a lot of jobs, but every job that I had was a great experience for me. Because I just like challenges, I like new opportunities. And I feel like that's the only way that we can grow as people."

As Hahn spoke to reporters, another rookie, Russell Henley slipped into the interview room. Last week's surprise Sony Open in Hawaii champion was one stroke off the lead, and Hahn couldn't resist taking a good-natured jab at his fellow Web.com Tour grad.

"I don't ever take a day like this for granted," Hahn said. "I see Russell Henley walking into the room right now and it's just a pleasure to be in his presence. So it definitely, I remind myself every day and every time I have a hard day, we have bad rounds too and bad days and we miss cuts and whatnot and we feel like the whole world's falling down, tearing apart and whatnot.

"So for me it brings me back to, well, you know, I chose to do this for a living, so don't complain. And secondly, it's something outside, so let's have a good time."

That's exactly what Hahn did on Thursday, too.

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