New dad Mahan back to golf at PGA Championship

The Mahan family still awaits that promised baby gift from
Brandt Snedeker.

”I have not received it yet,” proud papa Hunter Mahan said
with a grin, ”but I am waiting patiently.”

Mahan feels as though he hasn’t played golf in a month. In fact,
it’s been only a week-and-a-half since he pulled out of the
Canadian Open with the 36-hole lead, opening the door for Snedeker
to win.

A lot has happened since then, of course. Mahan rushed home to
Dallas in time to witness the birth of his first child.

He skipped the Bridgestone Invitational last week to be with his
daughter, Zoe Olivia. His parents visited from California, and
Mahan, an only child, loved the sensation of having a big family
around.

Now he feels primed to resume his chase of that elusive first
major.

”I really soaked it in and appreciated it and used it wisely,”
Mahan said Tuesday, two days before he opens the PGA Championship
at Oak Hill. ”I felt like I got that out of my system to where I
can come back to here and be focused and play. I knew if I tried to
maybe force it and play last week, I would have wanted to be two
places at once, and it just wouldn’t have worked out. But I felt
prepared to leave them and I felt prepared to be here.”

His wife keeps sending photos and videos, which also helps. And,
Mahan noted, ”it’s easier now, because Zoe can’t tell me how much
she’s going to miss me.”

Mahan’s third-round tee time had been pushed back because of the
threat of lightning on July 27 in Oakville, Ontario. He’d just
finished lunch with agent Chris Armstrong and headed for the
driving range. Then Armstrong got a call from Mahan’s wife, Kandi,
who was several weeks from her due date.

Once they found out her water had broke, the decision to leave
was easy: The baby was coming soon.

There was just the matter of figuring out how to get back
quickly to Texas. They were looking into private jets, commercial
flights, trying to sort out how to rush through customs. Then a
buddy told Mahan that he could get on a friend’s company plane that
was leaving in about 90 minutes.

Mahan landed in the Dallas area around 6:30 p.m. and was at the
hospital by about 7:15, where his wife had just received an
epidural. Zoe was born at 3:26 a.m., though it was all such a blur
Mahan could’ve sworn only a half-hour had passed since his
arrival.

A few hours later, Snedeker won the Canadian Open and promised a
”very nice baby gift” for the Mahans. He said last week he had
yet to decide on what it would be.

Tiger Woods, a father of two, said Tuesday: ”He made the
perfect choice. Actually, there wasn’t any.”

Mahan acknowledged he later went on Twitter, curious to see the
reaction to his decision.

”Usually Twitter, they tell me how much I suck all the time and
how dumb I am, so I figured somebody would say, `You’re an idiot.
You didn’t know what you’re doing. You can’t throw away (a
potential win),”’ he said. ”But I didn’t see that.”

”Maybe,” he added, ”I didn’t look far enough down.”

But Mahan isn’t really surprised by the response. He figures
most everyone can relate to his situation.

”I think people are just ready for a great story in sports,”
he said.

The 31-year-old Mahan is now looking to write a great sports
story on the course. He played in the last group at the previous
two majors but couldn’t put together a strong enough final round
either time.

Mahan shot 75 on Sunday at the U.S. Open to tie for fourth, four
strokes behind Justin Rose. At the British, he shot another 75 that
left him tied for ninth, six strokes back of Phil Mickelson.

”I can’t really point to one thing,” Mahan said. ”I just know
that I’ve played exactly how I wanted to play, and I didn’t let the
situation kind of overrun me, and I had a great time doing it.
Those types of experiences are just invaluable to have. I feel very
excited and encouraged about what I’ve done and excited about this
week.”