08/19 16:30 CDT Mahan wants to stay in hunt for stretch drive
Mahan wants to stay in hunt for stretch drive
AP Golf Writer
PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) --- The swing was efficient as ever, and the ball soared
toward the far end of the range with a tight draw as Hunter Mahan held his pose.
And then he twirled his club. Did you see that?" swing coach Sean Foley said
Tuesday, admiring the twirl as much as the shot. "He's not a twirler."
Foley usually sees that from one of his other pupils --- Tiger Woods.
Mahan goes about his golf with less fanfare.
But there was an ease with how Mahan went about his work at what would seem to
be a most critical time, perhaps because he feels as if he has nothing to lose.
Mahan is the only player who has never missed a FedEx Cup playoff event since
this lucrative series began in 2007. He has played so consistently well that he
has never come seriously close to missing a playoff event.
"That's a lot of good golf for a lot of years, and I'm pretty proud of that,"
Mahan said. "It means a lot. It means I've been consistent. I haven't had too
many bad days or many bad weeks. It's a different challenge this year."
Mahan goes into The Barclays at No. 62, which means he is assured of at least
playing the next two weeks. He will have to do something right at Ridgewood or
next week at the TPC Boston to advance to the third playoff event in Denver,
and keep any hope of getting back to East Lake.
He hasn't won a tournament since the Shell Houston Open in 2012, one week
before the Masters. His last good chance to win was at the Canadian Open just
over a year ago, when Mahan had the 36-hole lead and withdrew so he could be
with his wife for the birth of their daughter, Zoe.
Mahan is not the only player going through an ordinary year.
Mickelson did not have a top 10 on the PGA Tour until his runner-up finish two
weeks at the PGA Championship, which at least secured his spot on a 10th
straight Ryder Cup team and moved him up to No. 55 in the FedEx Cup, making his
road to East Lake a little more manageable. Brandt Snedeker, the FedEx Cup
champion two years ago, recently changed coaches and is at No. 55. Luke Donald,
a former world No. 1, has gone nearly two years without winning and is at No.
Mahan can't put a finger on what has gone wrong --- or what hasn't gone right.
"I don't feel like it's been bad --- some of it has been bad," he said. "I just
haven't played my best."
Mahan, whose five PGA Tour wins include a pair of World Golf Championships, got
used to performing consistently well for a long time. He was on every
Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team for five straight years. He played in the
final group in back-to-back majors last year.
Somewhere along the way, he wonders if he forgot what got him there.
"This has been a chance for me to look at myself," he said. "Am I doing it
efficiently? Am I getting the most out of it every day? Am I getting the most
out of Sean Foley, out of (caddie) John Wood, out of Ping? Or am I just skating
Mahan believes he has been guilty of the latter.
"You get in a routine, the play pretty good," he said. "It's great to make the
Presidents Cup teams and the Ryder Cup teams. Sometimes you get complacent and
a little lazy. I think there's a lot more I can do."
Time is not running out on Mahan. He is only 32. But time is running out on his
It's a far different challenge from the one two years ago. He started pressing
toward the end of the summer and missed the cut at the PGA Championship to
finish one spot out of making the Ryder Cup team. He missed the cut in one
playoff event, was middle of the pack in the next one and was left off the team.
This time, he wasn't even close.
Mahan had a 65-67 weekend at Valhalla to tie for seventh in the PGA
Championship --- his first top 10 since Doral --- and finished No. 25 in the
Ryder Cup standings. These next two weeks will go a long way toward impressing
Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson and getting one of the three picks.
That means going back to the small details that he feels he has overlooked.
It's paying attention to his posture, his setup and his position at the top of
the swing --- on the range Tuesday, in the pro-am Wednesday, in the tournament
"It's today. Do a good job today," he said. "Take every shot like it's a very
And then he can only hope he gets to keep playing --- all four weeks of the
FedEx Cup, maybe even a trip to Scotland for the Ryder Cup.
Another swing produced another majestic shot. He didn't twirl his club this
"I can't waste all my twirls," Mahan said with a smile. "It's only Tuesday."