Sunday’s roundup: Hahn’s hard work pays off
Charlotte, N.C. — James Hahn said the anxiety was creeping in after missing eight straight cuts on the PGA Tour, causing him to wonder if he’d ever get his game straightened out.
But after a long talk with caddie Mark Urbanek last week, Hahn came to Quail Hollow Club with a renewed confidence and determination to end the streak.
He did that and more.
Hahn beat Roberto Castro with a par on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff Sunday in the Wells Fargo Championship to snap the three-month slump and earn his second PGA Tour title.
“It was going bad for a while,” Hahn said. “Just didn’t have the confidence, didn’t believe in myself. I felt like I was putting in the work but wasn’t getting any reward for it. … You’re playing bad and you’re missing cuts and there’s nothing funny about that.”
The anxiety appeared a distant memory Sunday as a smiling Hahn cracked open a can of Bud Light as he sat behind the podium and asked the media, “You want one?”
Hahn, perhaps best known for his “Gangnam Style” birdie celebration three years ago on the Phoenix Open’s rowdy 16th hole, said when things got bad he remained motivated by never wanting to lose his PGA Tour card and having to play on the Web.com Tour.
“I just told my wife, I can’t play there — I can’t,” Hahn said. “It’s not an option for me. I feel like I’m good enough and I need to put in more work to stay on this level, and it’s worth every minute of it. … I have a lot of people counting on me.”
He won’t have to worry about that now for quite a while.
In winning, Hahn picked up the $1.3 million prize and an automatic two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, not bad for a former Bay Area women’s shoes salesman.
“You have to keep believing in yourself and keep grinding. I constantly remind myself that I am good enough and belong out there,” Hahn said.
Hahn said he never looked at the scoreboard all day and didn’t know that if he’d made par on the 72nd hole that he would have likely sealed the tournament. Instead, he 3-putted and made bogey, opening the door for Castro.
Castro, playing in the final group behind Hahn, made par to force a playoff.
But Castro’s tee shot on the playoff hole found the creek on the left side of the fairway and his third shot landed in a spectator’s shoe on the side of the green, leading to a bogey. The ball hit a spectator in the head before landing in the loafer.
“He’ll ice it down and he’ll be OK, I hope,” Castro said. “But I felt bad about that.”
Hahn shot 2-under 70 on Sunday, and Castro had a 71 to finish at 9 under, one shot ahead of Justin Rose (71). Hahn also won the 2015 Northern Trust Open at Riviera.
Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson both shot 66 to tie for fourth at 7 under with third-round leader Rickie Fowler (74) and Andrew Loupe (71).
Both Castro and Hahn had chances to win in regulation.
Castro broke a tie when he rolled in a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 15th hole to get to 11 under. But he quickly gave the lead up with bogeys at 16 and 17 on the “Green Mile,” the toughest closing holes on the PGA Tour.
Despite the playoff loss, Castro refused to the dwell on the negative.
“Sure it hurts to let this tournament specifically slip away, but there are 154 guys that didn’t have a chance in that playoff and I feel grateful to have had a chance,” Castro said.
Jesper Parnevik won the Insperity Invitational for his first PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 5-under 67 for a four-stroke victory.
The 51-year-old Swede won in his 23rd career start on the 50-and-over tour. The five-time PGA Tour winner finished at 12-under 204 at The Woodlands (Texas) Country Club.
Local favorite Jeff Maggert, first-round leader Mike Goodes and South Africa’s David Frost tied for second.
John Daly tied for 17th at 2 under in his PGA Tour Champions debut. The two-time major champion closed with a 71 after opening with rounds of 70 and 73.
Wang Jeung-hun of South Korea won his first title on the European Tour after beating Nacho Elvira in a playoff at the second extra hole in the Trophee Hassan.
Wang produced three clutch putts on the 18th green, the first from 18 feet on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with the Spaniard. Wang (70) and Elvira (69) finished on 5-under 283.
The South Korean rolled in a 50-foot putt on the first extra hole to match Elvira’s birdie, and they played No. 18 again. Wang then converted a 20-foot birdie putt for the win.
Ariya Jutanugarn held on for her first LPGA Tour title,closing with a 1-under 71 at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.
The Thai player topped Amy Yang, Morgan Pressel and Stacy Lewis by one stroke after losing two shots off her third-round lead.
Jutanugarn had four birdies and three bogeys a day after tying the tournament record with a 63, but didn’t repeat two previous failed attempts to keep a Sunday lead.
She gave cheering fans a wave and smile as she approached the final green, chipping to 5 feet to set up a par putt. Jutanugarn finished with 14-under 273 total on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill.
World Ladies Championship
Lexi Thompson won the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup, closing with an even-par 72 for a two-stroke victory over Japan’s Ayaka Watanabe.
Thompson finished at 13-under 275 at Ibaraki Golf Club in the Japan LPGA Tour major championship. She shot a 65 on Saturday to take a five-stroke lead into the final round before winning for the first time in Japan.
The Players Championship
Where: TPC Sawgrass (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida), 7.215 yards, par 72
TV: Thursday-Friday, GOLF 1 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 2 p.m.
Defending champion: Rickie Fowler. He defeated Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff.