Before the fame - Hunter Mahan

By Jonathan GoldmanJune 14, 2010, 4:29 pm

Hunter Mahan proved himself as an elite golfer long before his first PGA Tour victory.

Born in Orange, Calif., Mahan excelled in soccer and karate before being introduced to golf by his father, Monte Mahan. Hunter considers his dad to be the most influential person in his life growing up.

Unlike most golfers, golf came easy for Mahan. “I was blessed with a naturally smooth golf swing,” said Mahan.

Growing up in suburban McKinney, Texas, Mahan enjoyed a long list of junior accomplishments as a part of the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA). A self-described “not flashy, but consistent” golf game earned Mahan three Rolex Junior All-American awards and the 1999 Rolex Junior Player of the Year.

Hunter Mahan
Mahan is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American. (Getty Images)

During his junior golf career, Mahan was a mainstay atop the leaderboards. But upon reflection, Mahan acknowledges there is one junior golf victory he coveted above all the rest. “Winning the U.S. Junior,” said Mahan. “It’s a great list of champions and to be part of that is pretty cool.”

The list of U.S. Junior Amateur champions includes Johnny Miller, David Duval, Tiger Woods, and 16-year-old prodigy, Jordan Spieth.

The enormous trophy case earned during his junior career doesn’t hold Mahan’s only memories from junior golf. In reminiscing on his junior years, Mahan claims that his fondest memories were bonding with fellow golfers. Mahan and his best friend on tour, Sean O’Hair, met when they were only 12 years old.

“For myself and Sean we kind of look back to when we were 12 years old, playing, meeting each other, playing against one another and seeing where we are today, and see what we are in our lives,” said Mahan. “It’s just kind of neat to see how the progression in life kind of started when we were kids and where it is now.”

The progression of his game has reached the highest of levels. Mahan is currently ranked 21st in the World Golf Rankings. He has two career victories on the PGA Tour, including a first-place finish at this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. This week, Mahan will be competing against his close friend Sean O’Hair and the rest of the field at the U.S. Open.

More and more kids continue to take up the game of golf every day. For the new generation of golfers striving to become future pros, Mahan has one piece of advice. “Have no fear. Have no fear when you play golf.”

For two consecutive years, Mahan has given back to junior golf by co-sponsoring the AJGA’s Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship in his hometown of McKinney, Texas. “I have great memories from my years in the AJGA and I want to help provide today’s young golfers with the opportunity to achieve their dreams,” said Mahan.

Hayden Echols contributed to this article

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.

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Woods fires shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.