Hahn wins 'best story' with victory at Riviera

By Jason SobelFebruary 23, 2015, 3:11 am

LOS ANGELES – Here in the shadows of Hollywood, in the minutes leading up to a nearby celebration of the year’s greatest collection of storytelling in films known as the Academy Awards, an unlikely story unfolded from a crowded leaderboard filled with easier, trendier ones.

There were tales of major champions on the mend. Narratives of retribution and recovery, of experience and youth.

Names like Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Retief Goosen and Paul Casey. Popular players with built-in plotlines.

Spoiler alert: James Hahn won the Northern Trust Open on Sunday. Flipped the script, really. Earned his first career PGA Tour victory on a leaderboard that might as well have been draped in red carpet.

Those hoping for the clichéd Hollywood ending were probably left asking one important question:

Who is James Hahn?

Hahn was the tournament’s low-budget indie answer to those blockbuster hits. He’s never won a major, isn’t romantically linked to any starlets and didn’t jump straight to the PGA Tour from college.

No, less than a decade ago, this dude was a shoe salesman.

True story.

He was 24 years old and waiting for his golf career to take off. Before it did, he took a job working in the salon shoe section at two Nordstrom’s stores – one in Walnut Creek, the other in Pleasanton.

“I sold a lot of shoes,” he says now with a smile. “I was pretty good at it.”

Who is James Hahn?

A few years later, Hahn was playing the Canadian Tour. His career still hadn’t taken off.

His bank account was so depleted that he started looking for real work. Something completely out of golf that wouldn’t depend on him dropping numerous birdie putts to get paid.

“I had just under $200 going into Edmonton that week,” he recalls. “I've got to borrow money to pay for my caddie fee. Like, it was a little embarrassing. I was going to borrow money from my parents to get a flight home. And I'm sitting there on the computer going on Craigslist and I start looking for jobs.”

Northern Trust Open : Articles, videos and photos

He found one, but it wasn’t on Craigslist.

Hahn finished in eighth place that week, bankrolled a cool $3,000 and kept playing professional golf.

“At that point, like $3,000, you might as well have just given me $1 million. I could keep playing golf."

Who is James Hahn?

He’s the guy who did that dance.

Poor Hahn. Two years ago, in an effort to get into the spirit of things with the frenzied crowd at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole, Hahn punctuated a birdie by doing the “Gangnam Style” dance, which has been immortalized forever in a YouTube video that has now been clicked more than 338,000 times.

Forget the three years as a PGA Tour regular, forget the nine previous top-25 results. Most fans know him as the guy who did that dance.

“Everyone wants me to do the dance,” he laughs. “I don't think they even know my name.”

That was still true on Sunday, even as he was preparing for a three-man playoff at Riviera.

“I was signing hats after the round,” he says. “I asked some guy, I was like, ‘Hey, like is there a playoff? Like, what's going on?’ He's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and some other guy.’ I was like, ‘Yeah? OK, cool. Here's your hat.’”

Who is James Hahn?

Following the third round, he checked his tournament statistics and found that, along with Johnson, he was one of only two players in the top-12 who was in the negative in strokes gained putting.

So he called his wife, Stephanie, and told her this news.

“She's like, well, that just means you're striping it. I was like, OK, that's pretty cool.”

During that same phone call, he made Stephanie a promise. She’s been driving a 2005 Volkswagon Jetta for a decade, but he promised he’d replace it with a strong finish.

“This thing is a piece,” he says. “I mean, this thing has 130,000 miles on it. I said, ‘If I finish top‑five, I'm going to buy you a new car.’ … So I think I need to go buy a new car when I get home.”

Stephanie is pregnant with the couple’s first child, a baby girl due in three weeks. They don’t have a name picked out, but in the afterglow of his win, he offered an impromptu suggestion.


Who is James Hahn?

He’s the guy who matched each of his competitors’ pars on the first extra hole, then matched Johnson’s implausible birdie on the second – getting up-and-down from the left rough on the mystifying 10th hole.

On the third playoff hole – the par-3 14th – Hahn hit his tee shot to 25 feet, but Johnson was 10 feet closer. Still playing the part of unlikely hero, he holed his putt, then looked away as Johnson attempted his to keep the tournament going.

“I couldn't look; I was so nervous,” he recalls. “My heart rate was going 120 beats per second.”

When Johnson missed, the guy who’d been a shoe salesman, who once had less than $200 in his bank account, became a PGA Tour champion.

“Just kind of look at myself in the mirror some days and tell myself that I'm not even supposed to be here. Come from a small town. Didn't do well in college. Was never an All‑American. Sold shoes for a living for a while. Yeah, and then just one day, the putts started going in and started playing a little better. Won a couple golf tournaments, and now I'm here.”

Who is James Hahn?

As it turns out, here at Riviera, in the shadows of a night reserved for celebrating the best storytelling, he was the best story around.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.