Mahan Comes From Behind to Win Bridgestone Invitational

Hunter Mahan -- 2010 Bridgestone Invitational Champion


Hunter Mahan is like a racehorse who runs best from off the pace.

The 28-year-old Mahan has shown that ability in all three of PGA Tour victories, coming from behind on the weekend, including in his latest at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

This time, he shot 6-under-par 64 in the final round on the South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, to rally from three strokes down and win by two shots over Ryan Palmer.

“Yeah, I guess it’s better to be late than never,” said Mahan, who grew up in Orange and attended USC for one year before finishing his college career at Oklahoma State. “I got better each day and then came out today (after) I played great yesterday, and I thought I had a good round in me. I just didn’t know.

“To do it when you have to, when you’re kind of behind and you need to do something special and to do it when you need it, to make putts like I needed to, it feels great. But I’ll look back on it maybe tomorrow and really realize what kind of what happened and what I did, and it’ll sink in a little bit more.”

Mahan, who joined Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose as two-time winners on the PGA Tour this season, finished at 71-67-66-64–268, 12-under par, and wrapped up his spot on the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup in October at Celtic Manor in Wales, in addition to collecting $1,400.

Palmer, seeking his fourth PGA Tour victory and second of the year, wound up alone in second at 70-68-63-69–270 after sharing the 54-hole lead with Sean O’Hair, who slid to fifth at 67-70-64-71–272.

Retief Goosen of South Africa shot 67-66-73-65–271 and tied for third with Bo Van Pelt, who wound up at 67-68-69-67–271.

Ryan Moore of UNLV and Tacoma, Wash., totaled 70-68-70-69–277 and tied for 16th with Nick Watney of Davis and Fresno State, who came in at 68-68-69-72–277, while Paul Casey of Arizona State and England shot 68-68-73-70–279 and tied for 22nd with

Geoff Ogilvy, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., from Australia, who wound up at 71-67-68-73–279.

Rickie Fowler of Murrieta and Oklahoma State tied for 33rd at 68-73-69-70–280, while Phil Mickelson of Rancho Santa Fe and Arizona State faded on the weekend to tie for 46th at 66-68-71-78–283, when a tie for fourth would have lifted him to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career.

Mike Weir, the Canadian who attended BYU and is a resident of Draper, Utah, tied for 55th at 72-69-72-72–285, Anthony Kim of La Quinta and the University of Oklahoma tied for 76th at 75-76-69-76–296, and Tiger Woods tied for 78th at 74-72-75-77–298.

It was the worst finish of Woods’ career, surpassing his tie for 60th in the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, his first event as a professional.

Mahan, who was tied for seventh at the start of the final round, took control of the tournament by shooting a five-under par 30 on the front nine, carding three consecutive birdies through No. 5 and adding two more on Nos. 8 and 9.

His finish was similar to the weekend push he made while winning the 2007 Travelers Championship and the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this season.

Mahan shot 67-65 in the last two rounds three years ago at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., and then defeated Jay Williamson with a birdie on the first playoff hole to claim his first PGA Tour victory.

Then he went 65-65 on the weekend at Phoenix in February to win by one stroke over Fowler.

However, he knew his victory at Firestone meant a little more.

“Obviously, to win any time on the PGA Tour is great, but an event like this, 80 of the best players in the world, this definitely means it’s something special,” said Mahan, who proposed to his girlfriend, Kandi Harris, before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June and will be married in January.

“This is one of the bigger tournaments we play all year. This is a world golf event. All the players all over the world come here to play, and it’s definitely the best win of my career, for sure. And it’s probably the coolest trophy we get, too. That thing is pretty cool.”

Mahan said he lost his swing in the early part of the summer, when he missed four consecutive cuts, including in the U.S. Open.

After his whirlwind weekend, his head was spinning.

“I’ve had two wins this year and I’ve missed six cuts, and I didn’t miss one last year,” Mahan said. “I don’t know how this game works. I’m just trying to figure it out as I go.”

Except he knows he has to fall behind before he finishes ahead.

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