July 21 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- Almost lost in the can-Lee-Westwood-finally-win-a-major talk and the can-Tiger-Woods-ever-win-another discussion has been the performance of Hunter Mahan.
The American posted a brilliant 68 on Saturday that included five birdies on putts that ranged from 12 inches to 50 feet. He completed 54 holes in 1 under and will play in the final group on Sunday with Lee Westwood, who leads by two.
It's Mahan's second straight appearance in the last pairing at a major on Sunday so he must be doing something right. He played with Phil Mickelson and closed with a 75 at the U.S. Open to tie for fourth, which was his fourth top-10 in 30 appearances at a major.
So what is the key?
"Probably doing the right amount of practice, right amount of work, right amount of kind of rest and mental kind of preparation," Mahan said. "I'm just trying to play golf. I'm not trying to add to anything and make it more than it is, just enjoying kind of the opportunity of playing in a major. ... You just kind of accept things and appreciate them."
Mahan acknowledged that trying to win a major can be "overwhelming at times." The huge galleries, the topsy-turvey nature of the leaderboard, the expectations -- all serve to heighten the pressure.
"I definitely think you kind of have to believe before you can win," Mahan said. "You've got to have that confidence knowing that I can play well and I can win a major. You have to believe before it can actually happen, because you actually have to see it happening. I think once you start believing and actually trusting yourself, you can go out and do all kinds of stuff."