Hunter Mahan’s schedule is up in air with baby on the way
KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Hunter Mahan is a Californian and predictable when it comes to his PGA Tour schedule on the West Coast. He has played Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera every year dating to 2007, a streak that probably will end.
Mahan’s wife, Kandi, is expecting their second child in the middle of that stretch. He knew he could count on the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. After that, it’s up in the air. His plan is to not have one.
”I’m just going to play my schedule and make adjustments from there,” Mahan said. ”It’s too hard to figure out.”
He is scheduled to play the Phoenix Open, Farmers Insurance Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open. He is not expecting to play them all.
”Whenever the baby falls is where he’s going to fall,” Mahan said.
Give him a choice, and the one tournament he would hate to miss is Riviera.
”I love that place. I love that golf course,” Mahan said. ”It’s the end of a four-week stretch. It’s the one tournament I want to be in good shape. I enjoy it and really want to win there.”
But baby comes first. Remember, Mahan was leading the Canadian Open when he left after 36 holes because his wife went into labor.
POINT TAKEN: As more players join the PGA Tour, the gap in the ranking points swings even more toward America.
The average points awarded to PGA Tour winners in 2014 was 56.42, compared with 42.13 for winners on the European Tour. That includes the four majors, where the winners automatically get 100 points, and the four World Golf Championships, which averaged 73 points for the winner. Remove those eight events from the equation and the average PGA Tour winner received 49.54 points, compared with 32.54 points in Europe.
The PGA Tour points were a slight increase from 2013, while Europe had a slight decrease.
Throw out the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event in Europe which is guaranteed 64 points to the winner, and four final events in the Race to Dubai, and the Scottish Open had the strongest field for a regular European Tour event. It offered 52 points.
The PGA Tour had eight regular events that offered 52 points or more. The strongest field for a regular event was the Memorial with 64 points to the winner.
As for the playoffs.
The four FedEx Cup playoff events offered an average of 67.5 points to the winner. The Final Series in the Race to Dubai offered an average of 54.5 points, and that includes the HSBC Champions, a WGC event.
GWAA AWARDS: Rory McIlroy and Bernhard Langer were runaway winners as the top male and senior player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America. Stacy Lewis won a tighter race in a more crowded field of contestants for female player of the year.
McIlroy received 94 percent of the vote after a year in which he returned to No. 1 with emphasis by capturing two majors at the British Open and PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship and the European Tour flagship event at Wentworth. It’s the second time in three years he has won the GWAA award.
”This award is testimony to my best year as a professional golfer and something I can aim toward winning again as I go into next season,” he said.
Langer received 90 percent of the vote as the senior player of the year. He had five wins, two majors and captured the Schwab Cup at age 57.
Lewis swept the biggest awards on the LPGA Tour – the money title, Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and points-based player of the year. She received 57 percent of the GWAA voting over Lydia Ko and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie.
They will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner on April 8 in Augusta, Georgia.
BAE’S DILEMMA: Bae Sang-Moon smiled as he loaded his golf bag onto a cart at Kapalua on Tuesday.
”I make big news, huh?” he said.
Bae might be making more headlines now than when he won the Frys.com Open in October to start the 2014-15 season. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean faces ”military conscription” after being denied an extension on his overseas travel permit.
Bae said he has hired a legal firm to help him sort out the matter with South Korean government, which has to do with how much time he spent at home while being granted an overseas travel permit. He has been in Honolulu over the holidays and practicing at Waialae Country Club. Bae said he does not expect his PGA Tour schedule to be interrupted early in the season and that he has no immediate plans to return to South Korea.
But he smiled again when reminded that getting back to South Korea at the end of the PGA Tour is the ultimate goal. The Presidents Cup is going to South Korea for the first time, and there currently are no South Koreans on the International team. Bae is the highest-ranked player from Korea.
WALKER’S AFFINITY: Jimmy Walker was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. But his favorite courses are far from home.
Two of his three victories last year were in California – CordeValle for the Frys.com Open and Pebble Beach. Walker says Pebble Beach and Riviera are two his most favorite courses of the year.
He just doesn’t know why.
”It’s so different from what I’m used to,” he said. ”You get out there, and you’re in a different world. You’re out on the beach. Riviera is my favorite tournament of the year. The golf course is so good. And I don’t mind poa greens. It kills some guys. But the ball rolls true if you hit it where you’re supposed to.”
DIVOTS: Hideki Matsuyama, the 22-year-old Japanese star who already has six wins worldwide, has signed with IMG. … The Westgate Las Vegas Sports Book has Rory McIlroy has the 6-1 favorite to win the Masters, followed by Tiger Woods at 12-1. More interesting are the odds to win multiple majors. Odds are 11-4 that Woods will win one major, 20-1 to win two majors, 100-1 to win three and 250-1 to win them all. Odds are 8-5 for McIlroy to win one major this year, 11-2 to win two, 25-1 to win three and 80-1 to win a calendar Grand Slam. … Six players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions are not eligible for the Masters yet – Scott Stallings, Matt Every, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Chesson Hadley and Nick Taylor. Hadley and Taylor won opposite-field events. The other won their PGA Tour events prior to Masters and played Augusta National last year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Five players from the top 10 in the world ranking did not win on the PGA Tour last year.
FINAL WORD: ”Why can’t it be both?” – David Duval, when asked if his priority in 2015 would be his golf or his new role with Golf Channel.