Ma­han goes to Web fi­nals to try to earn back PGA Tour card

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

Hunter Ma­han never imag­ined mak­ing his Web. com 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 $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 after 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 Thurs­day on the Scar­lett Course at Ohio State Univer­sity. It is the first of four tour­na­ments in the Web.com 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 Web.com 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 is not the only PGA Tour win­ner in Ohio.

Ben Crane, Matt Jones and John­son Wag­ner also are at the Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Cham­pi­onship. Also in the field is Roberto Cas­tro, who last year played in the Tour Cham­pi­onship at East Lake.

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 ages 4, 2 and 1. He failed to qual­ify for the FedEx Cup play­offs for the first time last year, and then he be­gan work with Dal­las-based 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.”

The Web.com Tour Fi­nals go next week to the Boise Open, fol­lowed by a re­turn to Ohio for the DAP Cham­pi­onship at Can­ter­bury, the Cleve­land-area course where Jack Nick­laus won the 1973 PGA Cham­pi­onship. It con­cludes with the Web.com Tour Cham­pi­onship at At­lantic Beach Coun­try Club, about 10 miles down the road from PGA Tour head­quar­ters in Florida.

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.”

He is play­ing with Scott Har­ring­ton.

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