Hunter Mahan’s streak on the line Sunday at the BMW – ESPN
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The year has not gone the way he has hoped, and Hunter Mahan has virtually no chance of winning the BMW Championship on Sunday.
But he did put himself in position to at least have a chance at a rather impressive feat — continuing his streak of being the only player to advance to every Tour Championship since the FedEx Cup playoff format began in 2007.
Winning tournaments is the goal, but seeing as Mahan has failed to do that all year, trying to be among the top 30 players on the PGA Tour for the ninth consecutive year will have to serve as a consolation prize.
An impressive one at that.
“I remember when Steve [Stricker] and Phil [Mickelson] were [the only ones to make every Tour Championship with Mahan] for a couple of years. It was just us; they just couldn’t hack it,” Mahan joked Saturday after a 2-under-par 69 at Conway Farms left him tied for 16th and with an outside shot at qualifying for the Tour Championship. “I’m very proud of it. It’s from the beginning. You have a run later, [Jordan] Spieth and JDay [Jason Day] might do it for 20 years.
“But to have that from the beginning is cool.”
To keep it going, Mahan is going to need a big final round. He started the week in 52nd position, and tied for 18th at the BMW is projected to move only to 46th. He’ll have to go low on Sunday, and hope a few other players back up.
At the very least, Mahan needs a tie for fourth — he’s 5 strokes back of that position at the moment — and even that might not be enough. Over the past eight years, his worst finish is 30th in the FedEx Cup playoffs and he has a best of ninth in 2012.
“I’m going to be aggressive,” Mahan said. “I think I’ve got to be aggressive, I’ve got to make birdies, have a good round, play well and maybe force it down the stretch a little bit. I either make it or go home. It’s one or the other right now.”
Mahan finds himself in this position because he has not had a good year. His tie for fourth two weeks ago at the Deutsche Bank Championship was his first top-10 finish since he tied for ninth at the Masters in April. You have to go back to the Frys.com Open last October to find his previous top-5 finish, a tie for third.
Along the way, Mahan, 33, had seven finishes outside of the top 40.
Part of the reason, he said, was the birth of his second child, a boy named Miller Miles in February. Although Mahan and wife, Kandi, already had a daughter, a second child seemed to make for a different mindset.
“Life happens. Things change and you have to adjust,” Mahan said. “I didn’t prepare for it as well as I needed to. I didn’t have a great offseason I guess. I didn’t prepare for this season the way I needed to and having my son showed me that a little bit.
“I’ve played on the tour for 12 years now and you get comfortable with just the routine of things. It’s not like you lose motivation, but you lose focus on getting better, critiquing your game and where you need to be and where you need to get better. I just didn’t do that. The process … you start getting to the middle of the year, it’s a snowball effect and you can’t stop.”
Mahan, who has six PGA Tour victories, didn’t make any plans to be in Atlanta next week.
He figures if he doesn’t make it, he can begin the process of getting ready for next season, which for him will begin in just a few weeks at the Frys.com Open.
“Nothing is taken for granted,” Mahan said of his FedEx run that might be coming to an end. “Especially the way the FedEx Cup has been, we’ve messed with the points so many times you really have no idea how it is going to pan out. Obviously I didn’t play well this year, put myself in a tough spot. But it’s a good problem to have.”