Hahn's long, winding road crosses continents
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play, Tuesday practice
See the action -- and interactions -- of Tuesday practice for the PGA Tour's 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play as well as some desert scenery at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
Different? John Hahn was prepared for that. While friends and former colleagues were back in the United States chasing the world of professional golf along paved highways and through known restaurants, Hahn was taking the European road.
But how different? The one-time Kent State standout chuckled: “You have to lower your expectations and not have an agenda when you travel.”
It began in Malelane, South Africa, at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and Hahn checked himself into the Kwa Madala Lodge. A warm shower was in order. “(But) the shower was outside,” he said. “It was on a game reserve and as rugged and natural (a setting) as you can imagine. I thought to myself, ‘Boy, I’ve never seen a shower outside at a Marriott.’ “
Welcome to pro golf, European style, where the concept of global golf was invented, nurtured, and emblazoned with the mantra “growing the game.” Hahn saw that outdoor shower and laughed.
“That was when I thought, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore.’ “
Good for him and cheers to his adventurous side, for stretching the boundaries and accepting a challenge that is likely to make him a much better player. Instead of chasing the Web.com Tour or pounding the mini-tour circuits, Hahn went through European Q-School and decided to chase his dream through Africa, Asia and eventually Europe. If there was apprehension at first, Hahn’s performances have given indication to his having adjusted nicely.
With a tie for third in last week’s African Open, Hahn has played in six tournaments, cashed checks in four of them, and recorded two top-10 finishes. He sits 59th in the Euro Tour’s Race to Dubai, its version of the FedEx Cup, and 18th in scoring average.
“Adjusting to travel was a hurdle at first, but I'm getting used to it,” said Hahn. “My first three events I only got one full practice round in. That was a serious wake-up call to the challenges of traveling Europe and I just embraced it and made the most of it.”
With many of Europe’s best players at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, then in Florida for the Honda-Doral-Valspar-Bay Hill run-up to the Masters, “the schedule is very light over the next seven or eight weeks,” said Hahn.
So what’s a young golfer to do? Why, play golf, of course.
“I’ll play the event in Morocco (March 13-16) and the event in Cadiz, Spain (April 3-6)," he said. And until then? "I’ll try to stay sharp with an occasional Monday or eGolf or Hooters events.
“All you can do is try and stay competitive and embrace the challenge.”