Hunter Mahan Hunter Mahan captures first PGA Tour victory at Travelers Championship

Hunter Mahan always knew that winning on the PGA Tour was going to be difficult.

With that in mind, the 25-year-old probably didn't mind waiting one extra hole to get into the winner's circle at the Travelers Championship in his 118th career start on the Tour. Mahan got there by hitting his approach shot from 134 yards to within two feet of the pin and sinking the birdie to win a sudden-death playoff over Jay Williamson on the first extra hole.

"After you play out here for a little bit, you realize this is hard," Mahan told reporters. "Being a professional golfer, it's not easy to win out here. There are a lot of great players that haven't won yet.

"You definitely think you're good enough to win — I thought I was — but you just never know what's going to happen. You're going to need to play great and you're going to need a little bit of luck, too. It's not easy."

Mahan, who was the first-round leader following an 8-under-par 62 Thursday at TPC at River Highlands, finished with a 65 Sunday to end at 15-under 265. The victory earned Mahan $1.08 million and gave him 4,500 FedExCup points, moving him to 19th on the points list with 6,990 total points.

With six birdies in his first 13 holes, Mahan got to 16 under before making back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17. However, he responded by hitting his approach from 141 yards to within seven feet of the hole on No. 18, setting up a birdie putt that he would make to force a playoff after Williamson had missed his 12-foot birdie putt.

In the playoff, also on No. 18, Williamson again put the heat on by hitting his approach shot to within seven feet. Mahan then proceeded to knock his second shot to within two feet. After Williamson pushed his putt to the right, Mahan sank his birdie putt for the victory.

"It was crazy out there," said Mahan, whose previous top-10 finish this year was a tie for fifth at the Shell Houston Open in April. "I played really well all day, and Jay was a fighter. He fought the whole day."

It was a disappointing conclusion for Williamson, a non-Tour player who picked up $648,000 for his second-place finish. Playing on a sponsor's exemption, the 40-year-old entered the tournament ranked seventh on the Nationwide Tour money list with $153,249 and was hoping to regain his PGA Tour card with a victory.

"I'm very, very disappointed because my life certainly changed for the better today, but it could have really changed for a lot better," Williamson told reporters. "I have a lot to be proud of. We had a great week."

The win continued a trend of success for Mahan at TPC at River Highlands. He tied for second at last year's event and now has posted 11 rounds in the 60s in 20 starts at the Travelers.

Nick O'Hern shot a final-round 66 to finish third at 11-under 269. Vijay Singh finished fourth (10-under 270) and Fred Funk was fifth (9-under 271).

June 25, 2007

Comments Leave a comment