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July 26 2013

7:12 PM

In the moment, Mahan takes lead

By David McPherson, Special to PGATOUR.COM

OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Some people go down to the valley to pray. Friday afternoon Hunter Mahan went down to Glen Abbey’s valley holes and played some great golf.  

“I was just playing free today,” Mahan said. “I tried to just stay in the present.”

Mahan shot 5 under on the back nine, including three straight birdies coming home. With this hot finish, the 31-year-old shot the second-lowest round of the day (64), leaving him with a two-day total of 13 under. Mahan heads to the weekend with a two-shot lead over John Merrick, who earlier in the day tied the course record with a 10-under 62.

Unlike yesterday, when the wind picked up and the greens started to get a little inconsistent – leading to a lack of late low scoring for players – Mahan said that was not a factor today.

“I think the guys yesterday afternoon had it a little windier. Today was a little bit calmer, which was in our favor.”

Throughout the late afternoon Mahan — who has four top 10s this season — looked calm, cool and collected. Between holes he was all smiles. He took time to slap hands with young fans outside the ropes.

Despite the slow stretch of holes to start the back side, which he joked was “the valley of slow death,” he remained focused.

This focus was especially evident on the 14th hole when a fan’s cell phone went off right before he was set to hit his tee shot. Mahan hit a wayward drive after this distraction, ending up outside the lateral hazard line, but scrambled well to save par with a one-putt.

“I got a great break,” he said. “There’s actually quite a bit of area up there. If you can find your ball you can hack it out of there, but I got a great break and I was able to hit it way up there.

“It’s just a sign of golf,” he added. “I’m hitting it so great and hadn’t even come close to missing a fairway and then I miss a squirrelly one like that. You’ve just got to keep your head up and know that each shot is pivotal and the next one is the most important.  You can’t take anything for granted in this game.”

Mahan certainly didn’t take anything for granted Friday afternoon; he needed no prayers to get through Glen Abbey’s valley holes. Instead, he relied on a hot putter, some soft wedges, and a positive attitude — staying in the moment.

“I’m just kind of trying to go out there and play, and like I said, the more I’m relaxed out there and just letting things happen and not grinding away after a missed shot or something like that, being in the past or something, that always helps me,” Mahan explained.

“Just having fun is important because I play my best golf when I’m doing that.”

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