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.”