Ma­han works to get his game back

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS - DOUG FER­GU­SON

HUNTER Ma­han never imag­ined mak­ing his Tour de­but at this stage in his ca­reer.

He has been a pro for 14 years, with two World Golf Cham­pi­onships among his six PGA Tour vic­to­ries, seven ap­pear­ances in the Ry­der Cup and Pres­i­dents Cup, and just short of US$30 mil­lion in ca­reer earn­ings.

Ma­han sees this more as an op­por­tu­nity than a de­mo­tion.

“The best thing for my game is to play tour­na­ments and put to the test my skills in tour­na­ment golf,” Ma­han said Wed­nes­day, fol­low­ing his pro-am round at the Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Cham­pi­onship in Colum­bus, Ohio.

“This is where I can play, so it’s the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to work on my game.

“I feel like I’m mak­ing strides and I want to con­tinue to push my­self. Right now, it feels good. I feel like I’m build­ing on some­thing and I haven’t felt that in a long time.”

The tour­na­ment starts to­day on the Scar­lett Course at Ohio State Univer­sity. It is the first of four tour­na­ments in the Tour Fi­nals that of­fer PGA Tour cards to 25 play­ers who make the most money from these events.

The tour­na­ments are for play­ers who fin­ished in the top 75 on the Tour and from Nos. 126 through 200 in FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour.

The top 25 from the Web’s money list al­ready are as­sured of PGA Tour cards and are play­ing for higher sta­tus.

Ma­han played in the Ry­der Cup three years ago in Scot­land, but it wasn’t long be­fore he be­gan to jug­gle life on the road with a grow­ing fam­ily at home (he has three chil­dren un­der five).

He failed to qual­ify for the FedEx Cup play­offs for the first time last year and then be­gan work­ing with Dal­las­based swing coach Chris Con­nell at the end of last year.

This is a re­build­ing process for Ma­han and he is show­ing plenty of pa­tience.

Play­ing on the fi­nal year of his full ex­emp­tion from his sec­ond World Golf Cham­pi­onships ti­tle, he made only 10 cuts in 26 starts, though that in­cluded a tie for 16th in the Wyn­d­ham Cham­pi­onship.

“I felt like I had an iden­tity cri­sis,” Ma­han said of his swing.

“Some play­ers could play from where I was, and some could have had suc­cess. But it’s not in my DNA, and I be­lieve every­one has a golf DNA from where they play their best. I’m try­ing to get back to that.”

He said Con­nell has helped fix the glar­ing mis­takes.

Now it’s about re­gain­ing con­sis­tency and the con­fi­dence that comes with it.

“The good thing is Chris knew where he wanted to take me,” Ma­han said. “We’re go­ing where I wanted to go and where he wanted to go and it’s just fig­ur­ing out how to get there.”

Ma­han never played what was then the Na­tion­wide Tour when he left Ok­la­homa State.

PGA Tour cards back then were awarded through qual­i­fy­ing school, which he went through twice be­fore he em­barked on a ca­reer in which he rose as high as No. 4 in the world.

Asked who he was play­ing with in the open­ing two rounds, Ma­han wasn’t sure.

“I think there was a Har­ring­ton,” he said. “But it’s not Padraig.”

Ma­han is play­ing with Scott Har­ring­ton.


Hunter Ma­han says he is start­ing to get his swing back to when he had six PGA vic­to­ries.


Bos­ton Red Sox’ Han­ley Ramirez hits a solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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