James Hahn wins at Riviera
James Hahn was able to defeat Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson in a playoff at Riviera on Sunday to win his first PGA Tour event, taking the 2015 Northern Trust Open.
Retief Goosen entered the final day at Riviera with a two-shot lead, but you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who would have thought he was going to hold up, especially with the kinds of players that were on the board behind him. At one point, five players were tied for the lead at 7-under par, and Goosen wasn’t even one of them. It was down to two players near the very end of regulation, but after Dustin Johnson made a bogey on the par-5 17th, Sergio Garcia was all by himself at the top, one shot ahead of Johnson, James Hahn and Paul Casey, the latter of which was already in the clubhouse at 6-under par. Sergio also bogeyed 17 and then did this from the tee on 18:
Sergio couldn’t save his par to get into the playoff, so Casey, Hahn and Johnson headed back to the 18th tee to start the extra holes. All three men made par on the first playoff hole before heading to the diabolical par-4 10th. Casey appeared to be in the best position short and left of the green with both Johnson and Hahn in the rough on the same side, and he hit a decent pitch to about fifteen feet before Hahn and Johnson did this:
Hahn and Johnson would make their birdie putts, but Casey missed, sending two to the par-3 14th. Decent approaches followed for both Hahn and Johnson, and Hahn was up first.
The pressure was now on Johnson to extend the match, but his putt stayed on the high side.
- 1. James Hahn -6 *wins in playoff*
- T2. Dustin Johnson -6
- T2. Paul Casey -6
- T4. Hideki Matsuyama -5
- T4. Jordan Spieth -5
- T4. Keegan Bradley -5
- T4. Sergio Garcia -5
What The Win Means For Hahn
For the longest time, James Hahn has been known for one thing, when he did the Gangnam Style dance on the 16th in Phoenix, a video that has been a mandatory play by any network when Hahn creeps into contention in a tournament. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve likely been living with Anthony Kim. There’s always been a good story lurking underneath Hahn though, who professes to be self taught by watching YouTube videos, mostly of Tiger Woods, you know, the old Tiger Woods. Hahn’s wife is due to give birth very soon as well, so this is a pretty special time for the family and as I’ve always talked about whenever a player grabs his first win, it means so much because of how tournaments are structured. Not only does Hahn get a full two-year exemption on the PGA Tour because of the win, but he’s now also going to be in the Masters and the PGA Championship for the first time, and has put himself in good shape to qualify for the other two majors and the WGC’s as well thanks to his spot in the OWGR, as Hahn is now up to 86th.
That two-year exemption, and guaranteed spots in big tournaments, is everything to guys like Hahn.
The drivable par-4 10th at Riviera has long been one of my favourite holes in golf because it provides players with a ton of options. You can play it in a lot of different ways and the potential is there for a lot of volatility on the leaderboard because of it, but the changes made to the hole back in 2009, as described by Geoff Shackelford, have actually turned the hole into more of a gimmick than anything it seems. When the course is playing firm, like it was for the first three days, it’s nearly impossible to hold the green for those who try to drive it on, as Ryan Moore found out on Saturday.
Angel Cabrera shaking his head after Moore goes off the green tells you all you need to know. Goosen, playing in the same group as Moore, sent his ball off the green as well using a wedge. The counter argument, I suppose, is that the players should just lay up with a 6-iron on the left side and pitch it on, but that’s also effectively taking away one of the reasons why the hole was so great in the first place. I should mention that it wasn’t just the 10th that was effected, as several other holes on the course were playing obscenely difficult during the week, but the 10th was the most obvious.
Sergio’s World Class Par
On Saturday, Sergio looked to be dead to rights on the par-4 13th. He had hit the ball so far right from the tee that he was actually in one of the bunkers on 10. So, what did he do? Well, he was faced with a pretty difficult stance and a hook lie, and the only opening he had, about two or three yards between a couple of trees, required a cut. Naturally, Sergio simply took out his 3-iron and bashed it back into the proper fairway, which was only about six yards wide to begin with. He then hit a horrible chip, and nailed the par saving putt. For a general idea, see the image below and watch the video.
It’s going to be very, very difficult to top this in any competition for shot of the year. After his round, Sergio said that he thought his day was very Seve-like and after watching that shot, it’s hard to argue his point or the point below from Dillon Mays:
Shots, aside from Sergio’s recovery
- Notables to miss the cut: Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Francesco Molinari, Bill Haas and Ernie Els.
- Injury report:
- Brian Davis: Pulled out after firing a first round 79. No word yet on a reason why.
- Mike Weir: Two-time champion withdrew in the middle of his second round after experiencing pain in his surgically repaired elbow.
- On Sergio’s finish and post-tournament interview with Peter Kostis: Obviously it was a tough way to close, especially when you consider the way that he did it with such awful ball striking, but the interview that Sergio gave to Kostis after the round was refreshing, at least to me. Sure, he was in a position to win the tournament, but if you watched any of him during the week, he really wasn’t all that good and nowhere near his standard of play. It was a horrible way to lose the tournament, but I also don’t think that he takes these defeats in the same way that he used to, where he would just sulk his way through every interview and be completely useless for weeks on end afterwards. He’s going to be just fine.
- Retief: Good week overall and hopefully he keeps it up. He’s healthy now, which is something that Jason Sobel touched on in his piece prior to Sunday’s final round.
- DJ: It seems like his “break” has had the desired effect on some level. He looks as good as ever and it’s hard to not see him as a threat in any tournament he tees it up in for the remainder of the year.
- Angel Cabrera opened on Sunday with three birdies and was one shot back of the lead. How’d he finish? Eight bogeys and seven pars en route to a 76 and a tie for 30th.
- At this point, I’m pretty sure that Jordan Spieth is either going to have to play golf naked, which would be rough for Under Armour, or kill his playing partner at the turn to get some TV time from CBS.
Russell Henley defends at the Honda Classic where we’ll see the 2015 PGA Tour debut of Rory McIlroy and a host of other top players from Europe, who are making their first trips over to North America for the start of the Florida swing.