By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Needing to make a 6-foot putt on his final hole of the third round just to make it to Sunday, Hunter Mahan rolled in the par and made the secondary cut on the number.
Then he took advantage of the second chance.
Mahan shot a career-best 61 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, where he came up one short of tying the course record. He missed just two fairways and birdied nine of his final 13 holes.
“I've been swinging it great all week; I just got some putts to fall in and got a little momentum early and kind of rode the wave coming in,” said Mahan, who twice barely made the cut this week.
The first time came after a bogey-double bogey finish to shoot 69 in the second round to finish 1 under. The cut was even par.
The second came Saturday afternoon when there was a secondary cut because more than 78 players had finished at even or better. Mahan birdied Nos. 6 and 7 -- his 15th and 16th holes of the round -- then made pars coming in, including that testy 6-footer on No. 9.
“At that point you're kind of like, God, do I want to make this?” joked Mahan, who like several players had to finish his second round Saturday morning before going right back out for the third round because of weather delays earlier in the week. “Long day [Saturday].”
It was a short one on Sunday.
“I figured the lower I shoot, the faster we'll play,” Mahan said. “We're not going to hold up the field. It shouldn't take long to play golf.”
Mahan’s first birdie of the round didn’t come until the par-5 sixth, then he added two more birdies in his next three holes. He made five more birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine and finished with nine in all, including a 20-footer on the 18th hole.
It was a special finish for Mahan for more than just his score, however.
David Finn, a 19-year-old from River Edge, N.J., who suffers from Leigh’s Disease (a neurological disorder similar to Multiple Sclerosis that has him bound to a wheelchair), got to “caddie” the final hole as Mahan’s caddie, John Wood, wheeled him down the fairway.
“He's so aware, but he just can't do the things that he wants to do,” Mahan said of Finn, who has been a regular at PGA TOUR events in the Northeast the last five years. “He's a fun kid, and it's an opportunity that you couldn't pass up.”
It was actually the second day in a row Wood wheeled Finn down the fairway on the final hole.
“It didn't quite have the impact since we were 1 under and no one was watching us,” Mahan joked.
There was plenty to watch Sunday. With the finish, Mahan, who won here in 2007 and finished runner-up each of the next two years, becomes the all-time leading money winner in the event.