Despite DQ, Hahn still sees big picture on Euro Tour

John Hahn tied for fifth at the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn his European Tour card for the 2013-14 season.

John Hahn tied for fifth at the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn his European Tour card for the 2013-14 season.

American John Hahn knew he was going to have to deal with some adversity in his first season on the European Tour.

But after just one month overseas, the 24-year-old rookie already has had more than his fair share of learning experiences.

Hahn had to spend 18 days in Spain without his wallet earlier this month after losing it en route to the second stage of European Tour Q-School. He secured his tour card but then was faced with the difficult decision to skip Web.com Tour Q-School and focus on playing opportunities outside of the U.S.

And to top it all off, Hahn was disqualified from his first tournament as a European Tour member after using an alignment stick during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Thursday at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, South Africa.

The incident occurred as Hahn waited on the tee box at the par-3 fifth hole, his 14th hole of the day. During the wait, Hahn took out an alignment stick and made a swing.

"I was hitting it pretty bad all day and just couldn't get it figured out," Hahn said. "Typically in a practice round, I'll take the alignment stick out and make a few swings. . . . I honestly don't know what I was thinking."

His playing competitor Magnus A. Carlsson saw Hahn and suggested it could be a rules violation.

"He said, nicely: 'John, I wouldn't do that. I don't know if you're allowed to,' " Hahn said.

Hahn put the stick back in his bag and decided he'd tell a rules official at the end of his round. After shooting a 1-under 71, Hahn found an official.

"I'm like, 'Hey, this is what I did. I think I'm disqualified,' " Hahn said.

The official confirmed the disqualification via Rule 14-3a, which states that a player may not use any artificial device or unusual equipment that might assist in making a stroke or in the golfer's play.

"I was in shock," Hahn said. "It was a tough thing to handle. I pretty much sat on the couch that night and said to myself, OK, this was not the way you wanted the first day to start, but you can't let anything bother you too much."

Hahn doesn't plan to, either.

He celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday at the game lodge where he is staying in South Africa – "It was more like a half-Thanksgiving . . . they cooked us chicken," Hahn said. He and his caddie went on a safari on Friday, and he'll leave Sunday for Hong Kong, where he'll compete in the Hong Kong Open, the second of three consecutive tournaments Hahn plans to play on the European Tour.

He'll fly back to South Africa the next week for the Nelson Mandela Championship before going back home to Florida. From there, he plans to take about a month off, travel to Ohio and New York for the holidays, and prepare for 2014 on the European Tour.

"I think you just have to look at the big picture," Hahn said. "It's just one event. I'm likely going to get into most every (European Tour) event, so I'll have plenty more opportunities.

"It's unfortunate this came so early, but hopefully it's a blessing in disguise and will help me later on."

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