AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hunter Mahan doesn’t know what it will take for people to forget his infamous bad chip at the 2010 Ryder Cup that led to the United States’ loss.
He is the only player to win twice this year on the PGA Tour. He defeated Rory McIlroy to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Maybe a green jacket will do it.
And he’ll have a chance to earn one on Sunday after a 4-under 68 vaulted him to 4 under for the tournament and into a tie for sixth place, five shots behind leader Peter Hanson.
“It just seems to keep living with me, and I don’t know why. I honestly don’t know why,” said Mahan, whose best Masters finish is eighth in 2010. “I know they kept replaying it at the Match Play, and then I beat Rory, but that didn’t seem to do much good.
“I just couldn’t tell you what it’s going to take, because I don’t think it will – I don’t think winning by 10 tomorrow will make anyone forget.”
On Saturday, Mahan carved up the par 5s, making birdies on Nos. 2, 13 and 15, while also picking up a birdie on the par-4 fifth hole for the third straight day. Mahan was able to take advantage of the long holes before the course picked up speed.
“I played the par 5s well today,” said Mahan, who won the Shell Houston Open last week. “It is getting faster by the hour, so it was good to get out there early.”
Mahan used his distance off the tee to set himself up on Saturday, averaging 292.5 yards off the tee, hitting 10 fairways in the process. Keeping it in play allowed him to hit 13 greens in regulation.
The course conditions helped Mahan on Saturday.
“I think some pins are a little bit easier, probably a little more accessible today,” said Mahan, who had 28 putts on Saturday, with no three-putts. “The greens are getting faster, but the fairways are a little bit firming up, so you’re not getting quite as many mud balls so you can kind of control your distances a little bit more.”
A new mental philosophy is helping Mahan get around Augusta National, with the top-ranked American – No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking – showing little emotion regardless of his situation.
“I’ve done a good job of playing golf without wasting energy,” Mahan said. “I’m not out there beating myself up over a bad shot or a bad round or a bad stretch or anything. I’m taking it easy on myself.”
What will Mahan’s mental state be in the morning?
“I will wake up excited that I have a chance to win,” he said. “I think every golfer dreams of being in contention on Sunday at Augusta, and hopefully I can put myself back there.”
And it just might help the world forget Mahan’s nightmare at the Ryder Cup.