By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Hunter Mahan isn’t sure what has held him back in the final round of each of the last two majors when he played in the final pairing on Sunday.
Well, Phil Mickelson’s 66 at Muirfield was one -- “No one was going to beat him that day,” Mahan said.
“I felt like at the U.S. Open, I wasn't that far off. I just had one or two shots that hurt me.”
Perhaps fatherhood will help.
Playing for the first time since his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child two weeks ago, Mahan has a newfound perspective. In other words, if your life doesn’t revolve solely around golf, it makes playing golf at this level that much easier.
“It's hard to win tournaments out here,” Mahan said. “It's not easy.
“I've just got to keep working, keep getting better at my all-around game, and I think I'll get there. But I can't really point to one thing. I just know that I've played exactly how I wanted to play, and I didn't let the situation kind of overrun me. Those type of experiences are just invaluable to have.”
Mahan has done just about everything else in golf. He’s won five times on the PGA TOUR, including a pair of World Golf Championships titles, played in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and beat Rory McIlroy in match play a week before McIlroy would move to No. 1 in the world.
The hole in the resume is a major.
While Mickelson lapped everyone in the final round at The Open Championship, Mahan didn’t do himself any favors with a 75.
Ditto at the U.S. Open, where he shot 73 on Sunday to finish four back of Justin Rose, who was three strokes better than Mahan that afternoon.
“It's been very encouraging to be in the final group in a major,” Mahan said. “I think it's a great accomplishment, because you're in the last group out there and you get to see what everybody else does. You can see why Tiger and why those guys want to be in the last group. I feel like it's somewhat calming in a way, or at least that's what I felt, because you know kind of what everyone is doing, and you get a sense of everything.
“On a week-to-week basis on the PGA TOUR, going into Sunday, you might have 10 guys, 15 guys, who really have a chance to win, because you never know how somebody could shoot a 63 or 64. But in majors, I think you want to stay close to the lead, and hopefully by Sunday have a chance to kind of be in that top 5, because I think that's a huge advantage compared to the field to kind of come up from behind somebody.”
So what are Mahan’s chances at Oak Hill this week?
“I'm excited about playing this golf course,” he said. “It's a ball-striker's place, small greens, and you really have to control your irons into the greens.
“If I can do that, which I feel good about, I think I'll have a good chance on Sunday."
Hunter Mahan is among the top five Americans to watch at the PGA Championship.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Hunter Mahan's strategy is simple.
"You can't be afraid," he said. "You've got to be aggressive."
Only he was talking about changing diapers, not Oak Hill and the PGA Championship, where he is playing for the first time since he withdrew in the middle of the RBC Canadian Open when his wife went into labor with the couple's first child.
Mahan hit balls over the weekend for the first time since his daughter Zoe was born and on Sunday played 18 holes at Dallas National before heading to Oak Hill.
"I felt like I haven't been on the course, played a tournament, in a long time, and it's only been, what, eight or nine days," Mahan said. "It's a little weird feeling. It feels very unfamiliar; I feel like I've had a month off.
"But I think having last week, staying home last week, really just cherishing that time and being with (wife) Kandi and Zoe and my parents were there, that was a lot of fun to have them there. I really soaked it in and appreciated it. I felt like I got that out of my system to where I can come back to here and be focused and play. I knew if I tried to maybe force it and play last week, I would have wanted to be two places at once and just wouldn't have worked out."
How he is adjusting to life on the road for the first time since his daughter was born?
"My wife does a great job of sending me videos and pictures of her all the time, and that makes it easier," Mahan said.
Being a father might also do the same on the course for Mahan, who has played in the final pairing in each of the last two majors.
"I practice, I'm playing golf, and when I go home, I don't think about it anymore," he said. "I'm just kind of focused on my wife and kid right now and just enjoying them and enjoying every kind of moment."
Hunter Mahan performance in Canada shows he is close to winning a major. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
As always, the RBC Canadian Open drew a stellar field as a number of the TOUR’s top names traveled back from Scotland to Glen Abbey, which was hosting for the first time since 2009.
Whilst warming up on the range on Saturday, 36-hole leader Hunter Mahan was informed his wife, Kandi was going into labor with their first child -- and Mahan promptly withdrew from the event and traveled home to Texas to be on hand for the birth.
Now, Mahan is a tremendous player who is widely respected for his ball-striking prowess. Indeed, he has developed a very rounded game and I am sure that further success in big tournaments is only a matter of time. In other words, there are many things we can learn from the physicality of Hunter’s game. I would like, however, to make a few observations of his actions and illustrate the lessons that lie embedded in them:
Hunter’s actions clearly indicate that he has golf in proper perspective. It fits in well behind life, his family and the other things that are dear to him personally. As a result, I believe that he is able to play with less concern for failure. In my opinion, it's a great place to be if you want to consistently produce good performances. I say it time and again to students of all skill levels: Tension is the siggest swing-wrecker I have ever encountered.
Tension is a product of doubt, apprehension and fear. So to free up your swing and your game, resolve to fit golf into the proper place in your life. For me it gets in behind faith, family and work. Consider a lesson I learnt from a client of mine and a great friend, Larry Mize: “Golf is what I do, it is not who I am. Winning the Masters is what I did, it does not define who I am.”
I am a firm believer that even though golf is a target and results-oriented game, an unwavering focus on the process required to hitting good shots and playing well is hugely important. It is more important to focus on your game in the present and the shot at hand than anything else. Hunter Mahan’s play through the first two rounds in Canada are perfect illustrations of his focus on the process required to play good golf instead of the results, be they past or future.
Consider this: He had played two major championships in a row with a legitimate chance of winning. Sadly for him, he has not converted yet, but it appears to me that this has not fazed him in the slightest. He arrived in Canada and had his mind on the job at hand. He then gets the phone call while on the range and without wavering he decides to withdraw. That shows me that he has no concern whatsoever about the future and he appears confident enough that if he continues to stay true to his work and his path he will find himself in a similar position in the future.
I leave you with a tweet he posted shortly after the birth of his baby daughter: “Both mom and baby are doing great. Thanks to all of my sponsors who appreciate what’s important in life and all my fans for being Awesome.”
So, focus on the job at hand, not what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future. And then like Hunter Mahan, keep golf in perspective – it is only a game, and it should be treated as such. Enjoy the journey en route to your destination.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
Mahan won at Firestone in 2010 for his first career WGC title. (Lyons/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Hunter Mahan withdrew from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Monday, a day after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child.
"I have elected to officially withdraw myself from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational so that I can take the opportunity to spend this precious first week at home with Zoe," Mahan said in a statement. "I would like to thank the PGA TOUR for supporting my decision not to play this week."
Last week, Mahan was leading by two at the RBC Canadian Open and was preparing to tee off in the third round when he recieved a message that his wife Kandi had gone into labor. He immediately withdrew from the tournament and flew home to Dallas, where his daughter, Zoe Olivia, was born at 3:26 a.m. Sunday.
He later said via Twitter, "Both Baby and Mom are doing great. Thanks to all to my sponsors who appreciate what's important in life and all my fans for being awesome!"
Mahan, whose first WGC title came at Firestone in 2010, will not be replaced in the field. He will return to action at the PGA Championship in two weeks.
The Mahans welcomed baby girl Zoe early Sunday morning in Dallas. (Courtesy Mahan family)
As it turns out, Hunter Mahan made it back with plenty of time to spare.
Hunter and Kandi Mahan welcomed their first child, a girl named Zoe Olivia, at 3:26 a.m. on Sunday. Hunter Mahan had left the RBC Canadian Open just over 12 hours after leaving his wife had gone into labor. At the time, he held the 36-hole lead.
On Sunday morning, Mahan tweeted: "What a whirlwind of a day, but I'm happy to announce the birth of my daughter Zoe Olivia Mahan born at 3:26 am. Thanks for all the support!"
He added: "Both Baby and Mom are doing great. Thanks to all to my sponsors who appreciate what's important in life and all my fans for being Awesome!"
It is not known how much time off Mahan will take from the PGA TOUR -- he is still entered in this week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Watch above: Golf Channel's cameras were rolling when Hunter Mahan withdrew from the tournament in order to travel home for the birth of his first child.
By David McPherson, Special to PGATOUR.COM
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- A stunning development unfolded early Saturday at the RBC Canadian Open, with 36-hole leader Hunter Mahan withdrawing from the tournament after getting a call informing him that his wife, Kandi, had gone into labor.
“I received exciting news a short time ago that my wife Kandi has gone into labor with our first child,” said Mahan. “As a result, I have withdrawn from the RBC Canadian Open to return to Dallas. I would like to extend my very sincere gratitude and appreciation to RBC and the RBC Canadian Open.
"Kandi and I are thrilled about this addition to the Mahan family and we look forward to returning to the RBC Canadian Open in the coming years.”
Mahan grabbed the lead at Glen Abbey after shooting 67-64 to take a two-shot lead over John Merrick heading into Saturday's round. With Mahan's WD, Merrick played alone in the final group.
The final group was delayed 80 minutes due to an earlier storm, so Mahan and Merrick were one of the few groups who had yet to tee off. Golf Channel showed images of Mahan taking a phone call on the range, and moments later, he departed from the premises.
Brandt Snedeker surged into the lead with a 63 on Moving Day, and only learned Mahan had withdrawn when he didn't see Mahan's name on the leaderboard while waiting to hit on the seventh tee.
"With him leaving, it left the leaderboard wide open," Snedeker said. "It changes the complexity of the tournament. The way Hunter was playing, he was going to be hard to catch ... anyone can win now."
Mahan had played his best golf of the year this week in Glen Abbey. He was in good position for his first win of the year after a solid summer that produced top-10s at both the U.S. Open and last week at The Open Championship.
Dustin Johnson, who eagled 18 to shoot 63, played with Mahan in the first two rounds. He said the news was unexpected, but wished his PGA TOUR colleague well.
“I actually didn’t know that [his wife was due] until my caddy Bobby told me on 18,” he said. “Hopefully everything goes all right. I know it’s one of those situations where you probably wouldn't expect him to have to leave.
“But sometimes that’s just how it works. He’s playing really well right now, but yeah, I mean, things happen, and obviously I'm in a good position for going into tomorrow.”
Mahan wasn't the only player to withdraw Saturday, Canadian Brad Fritsch was forced out due to back pain before he teed off, leaving a very unusual line at the bottom of the leaderboard:
By David McPherson, Special to PGATOUR.COM
OAKVILLE, Ontario -- A course record equaled early – and a barrage of birdies late – sums up Friday’s second round at the RBC Canadian Open.
John Merrick set the tone in the morning by shooting a 10-under 62 to tie Glen Abbey’s tournament record held by Greg Norman. The 31-year-old from California was right on the projected cut line to start the day, but said that making the weekend never crossed his mind.
“Well, it wasn’t that bad,” Merrick said of his career low competitive round. “It didn’t feel like 62 at all. It felt like – you never know. But, a couple things clicked and I got off to a good start. I made that putt on the last hole and asked my caddie, ‘was that 10-under?’ He was like, ‘I think so.’ I was just trying to keep making birdies and not quite think about what I was doing.”
Not thinking too much about what he was Hunter Mahan’s game plan. It worked. He had the low round of the afternoon – shooting an 8-under 64 that included three straight birdies to close - to take a two-shot lead over Merrick heading into the weekend.
“I just played free,” Mahan said. “That's how I think I was able to birdie the last three, because I just kind of kept my head up and kept going. I wasn’t really thinking about finishing strong or anything, I was just trying to finish that hole and stay in the present as much as I could and not get too caught up in the leaderboard or anything else.”
Tee times are out for the first two rounds of the RBC Canadian Open, where Scott Piercy is trying to become just the second player in the history of golf's third-oldest tournament to successfully defend his title. The only other player to do it was Jim Furyk, who went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
Here's a closer look at the group and other notable groups to watch the first two rounds (all times ET):
Scott Piercy, Ernie Els, Luke Donald: Piercy won this tournament a year ago and also played well in 2011, finishing sixth. Els, meanwhile, has had four finishes in the top six in his last eight starts worldwide. Donald finished third in the event in 2010. They'll tee off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk: Austin is coming off his first victory in six years and another strong performance could get him into the FedExCup Playoffs picture. McDowell, who won the RBC Heritage earlier this season, is playing this RBC event for the first time. They'll tee off at 12:55 p.m. Thursday and 7:40 a.m. Friday.
Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson: Kuchar has a half-dozen top 10s this year, including two wins. He also finished fourth in this tournament in 2010. Snedeker enters the week off three straight finishes in the top 20 and he finished fifth the last time this event was played at Glen Abbey. They'll tee off at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan: It has been a breakout season for Horschel, who has seven top 10s, including a first, second and third. He's cooled of late, however, with no finishes in the top 30 in his last three starts. Mahan, who was in the final pairing on Sunday at Muirfield, finished fourth here in 2004. They'll tee off at 7:40 a.m. Thursday and 12:55 p.m. Friday.