‘Bragging rights’ on the line for Mahan, O’Hair

Hunter Mahan during a practice round for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Hunter Mahan during a practice round for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

LOS ANGELES – If everything stays as is, Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair will be playing against each other in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship next week.

One of 32 matches, Mahan and O’Hair’s match will be a bit different since they are good friends. Only one will advance to the next round.

“I think it’s easier to get motivated for,” Mahan said of playing against O’Hair. “If you find someone you don’t know or never ever heard of you just kind try to get to know the guy while your playing and finding your groove together.”

Never getting past the second round, Mahan will need to get motivated. The Dallas transplant may be playing his best West Coast swing, with a second last week at Pebble Beach and sixth at Torrey Pines.

But O’Hair has a better track record in match play, finishing fifth in 2009, and he has always won his first round match.

“I wish it wasn’t the first match,” O’Hair said. “We’d love to play against each other in the finals, but I look forward to it. It’s going to be a tough match. He’s playing some great golf and hopefully I can jumpstart some things.”

O’Hair has not had a great start to the year with a missed cut at Phoenix and a T-31 at Pebble Beach.

“At the end of the day you try to play the best you can and if you play well you’re going to have a good chance of winning that match,” O’Hair said. “I try not to focus too much on other people or their games – that’s served me well in the past.”

Mahan wants to win, but he wants the victory for another reason.

“I think its going to be easy to get up for the match and get excited about it. It’s bragging rights for one of us.”

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