FedExCup fate now in Mahan's hands
He fires a final-round 65 at The Barclays to capture his sixth TOUR title and first since 2012
August 24, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Hunter Mahan poses with his wife Kandi, daughter Zoe and the tournament trophy after winning The Barclays. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Kandi Mahan stopped short of saying she had a premonition on Saturday night.
But she knew that she and her 1-year-old daughter Zoe needed to fly to New Jersey to see how the final round of The Barclays played out. Her husband, Hunter, after all, would start Sunday's 18-hole finale one shot off the lead with so very much at stake.
Win and he'd vault to No. 1 in the FedExCup. Win and that victory drought of more than two years would be history. Win and U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson just might have him on speed dial next week when he announces his Captain's Picks.
So Kandi and Zoe knew they had to be there.
"It's just great to be together no matter what," Kandi said Sunday afternoon as she glanced at her curly-haired daughter, who was entertaining herself on the 18th green. "And if Hunter did win, we'd definitely wanted to be there. So we decided we wanted to go. Me and Zoe decided we wanted to go."
Kandi and Zoe left her family's home in Odessa, Texas, at 10:30 on Sunday morning. Luckily, the plane had WiFi so she was able to keep tabs on the competition. Hunter was playing the 15th hole when they landed, and the 16th when the two got to Ridgewood.
"There was no traffic," Kandi said with a smile. "... I mean, I got here quick."
The best part? Hunter had just started a run of three straight birdies when his family arrived. Kandi and Zoe hid in the stately stone clubhouse until he teed off on the 18th hole, then waited outside the tunnel under the grandstands while he saved bogey from the bunker and preserved a two-stroke lead.
Only then did Kandi put Zoe on the ground so she could take those unsteady steps of a toddler toward her daddy, oblivious to the cheers of the crowd. And when Jason Day, playing in the final group, couldn't hole his second shot, Mahan had his first victory since 2012.
And a Kodak moment, as well.
"I think every player dreams about that, when you have a child, for them to come out on the green," Mahan, who closed with a 65, said later. "It wasn't the last group or anything but felt good to see them. ... They always make everything special."
Kandi said her husband was in shock when he realized they were there. The two actually were supposed to meet him on Tuesday in Massachusetts where he will play in the Deutsche Bank Championship -- and now goes in as the top seed in the FedExCup.
"The first thing he was saying is when did you get here, when did you leave?" Kandi said. "He was just so confused. He's so excited. I think once it sets in, we'll have so much fun tonight celebrating as a family."
After one more flight to Boston Sunday night, that is.
The scenario brought back memories of last year's RBC Canadian Open, where Mahan held the lead entering the third round. Less than an hour before he was scheduled to tee off, though, he found out Kandi had gone into labor -- several weeks prematurely -- back in Texas.
Mahan withdrew immediately. A friend knew a friend, well, you know how that story goes, and Mahan hitched a ride on a corporate jet already scheduled to head to Texas on Saturday. Within 15 hours he was by Kandi's side and present for Zoe's birth.
So was it payback, Kandi was asked. "That's one way to look at it," she paused and said with a smile.
Mahan, who is the only player to have competed in all 29 FedExCup Playoffs events, said no payback was needed.
"Well, nothing to make up for but it feels good to be back in contention and get a win," he said. "I was playing great that week, as well, but you never know what could have happened.
"It feels good to get a 'W.' It's been a couple of years, and it feels good the way I did it with a great round on Sunday."
Hunter Mahan rallies to win at The Barclays
ON THE BRINK: Jason Day feels he's getting close to the kind of form he displayed at the beginning of 2014 when he had one win and a runner-up finish in his first three starts -- before that thumb injury sidelined the young Aussie for nearly three months.
And judging by his runner-up finish at The Barclays, where he battled the eventual champ, Hunter Mahan, and several others for the lead throughout the day, Day just might be peaking at the right time.
"I definitely had a shot today," Day said. "It's so close. Like it's just in my fingertips and I can touch it. But Hunter played that much better than all of us and he deserves to win. When you play great on the back nine on a Sunday in a Playoff event, you're doing something right.
"... You've just got to take your hat off to him because he played well to win the tournament. I didn't lose it, which was a good thing. I played well, tried my best and wasn't good enough."
Of course, it's hard to overtake a player who makes five birdies in a seven-hole stretch starting at the 11th hole. Day's 68 on Sunday was solid, though, and he's looking forward to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship, where he tied for second and third, respectively, in 2009 and '11.
"I'm trending in the right direction," said Day, who has climbed to seventh in the FedExCup standings. "I really want to give it a shot at winning the FedExCup. That's the ultimate goal, and you can't do that without winning tournaments."
BIRTHDAY BOY: Cameron Tringale celebrated his 27th birthday in style on Sunday when he fired a 66 that propelled him to a tie for second at The Barclays, which was the highest finish of his PGA TOUR career.
"I just played with a peace that surpassed understanding today," Tringale said. "I didn't feel nervous out there. I felt comfortable and I felt like I was in control of what was going on. I've just got so much to be grateful for; no matter how this day turned out, it was going to be awesome.'
Tringale would have had second alone had it not been for the bogey at the 18th hole that brought his run of three straight birdies to an abrupt end. He jumped to 19th in the FedExCup, though, and has essentially assured himself of a second appearance in the BMW Championship.
And if he continues to play well, Tringale has a great chance of making the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the first time. It's all part of the master plan.
"This year isn't about this year for me," Tringale said. "I'm just trying to build. This is a big step for that, and no matter how it shakes out, I've played well in some big tournaments, and that's what I need to do to try and get myself to that next level."
Shot of the Day
Matt Kuchar holes out from bunker for Shot of the Day
BY THE NUMBERS
Category Player(s) Statistic(s) Driving accuracy Rickie Fowler 13 of 14 fairways (92.86 percent) Greens in regulation Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, John Senden, Cameron Tringale, Bo Van Pelt 15 of 18 greens (83.33 percent) Scrambling Ernie Els, Charley Hoffman, Kuchar, Scott Langley, Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Jordan Spieth 100 percent Total birdies Stuart Appleby, Mahan, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson, Gary Woodland 7 birdies Lowest score Appleby, Mahan, Reed 65 Bogey-free rounds Els (66), Langley (66), Kuchar (67), Na (69), Hoffman (69)
Hardest hole Par-4 18th 4.257 strokes Easiest hole Par-4 3rd 4.586 strokes
ODDS & ENDS
Of his six career victories on the PGA TOUR, Mahan has shot 65 or better in the final round four times. His previous-best finish at The Barclays was a tie for 17th in 2007. ...
Mahan recorded 12 birdies or better and just three bogeys or worse during the final two rounds of The Barclays. It was the first time since 2010 that Mahan has posted numbers this good or better on the weekend of a TOUR event. ...
Jason Day made 18 putts of 8 feet or greater during this week’s Barclays. It was the most putts of this length by Day in his career. ...
Furyk has now finished in the top 10 in half of his 18 starts on the PGA TOUR this season. In 522 career starts, he has 170 top-10 finishes. ...
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Your new top 5 in #FedExCup standings: Mahan, Rory, Walker, Kuchar, Bubba.— Brian Wacker (@pgatour_brianw) August 24, 2014
Magic number for @HunterMahan: 65. Third time he's done that to win. Crazy.— Brian Wacker (@pgatour_brianw) August 24, 2014
I have another passenger...might exceed weight limit! pic.twitter.com/2q4YWjJi7a— Jonathan Byrd (@JByrdpga) August 24, 2014
THEY SAID IT
“Obviously a win, it helps a lot. Obviously playing well at the PGA helped a lot. So obviously I have no idea what he's thinking or if he has any sort of strategy. But I think a win is a good step in the right direction.” -- Hunter Mahan, on the chances Tom Watson uses a captain’s pick on him for the Ryder Cup.
“Obviously, 70, where everyone else is shooting 66 and 68, 70 is not a good score. I don't know, I feel like every time I go to the press room, I understand the questions coming, and I feel like we're in a morgue. Like everyone is looking at me with this blank stare and they ask me depressing questions. And they bring up the Ryder Cup the last time, and we go through Akron and then we go back through, and I leave there like I lost my dog. It's golf. I didn't die out there today. I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me.” -- Jim Furyk, who for the eighth straight time dating back to 2012 was unable to convert a 54-hole lead or co-lead into a win.
“It's great to stand on a golf course, especially the last day of a tournament and not really think about money. Most guys think about money or where they finish and place. It's great to feel and think and all you think about is the trophy, which is great. That's what I'm most pleased about is thinking about the trophy rather than thinking about anything else.” -- Jason Day, on tying for second.
“This year isn't about this year for me. I'm just trying to build. This is a big step for that, and no matter how it shakes out, I've played well in some big tournaments, and that's what I need to do to try and get myself to that next level.” -- Cameron Tringale, after tying for second.
Click on the image below to see the best images during the final round of The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club.
CALL OF THE DAY
Doug Bell of PGA TOUR Radio on SirusXM and PGATOUR.COM calls Hunter Mahan's 21-foot birdie putt on No. 17 at The Barclays.
Hunter Mahan confidently rolls in a 21-foot birdie putt at Barclays