Both drove it in
the fairway on the par-4 last, and Williamson hit his approach shot, with a
seven-iron, to 11 feet. Mahan stuffed his, a nine-iron to five feet. As they
approached the green Williamson waited for Mahan for a moment, tapped him on
the shoulder and said, "Nice shot." It was a gracious move. Some other
guys-- Lanny Wadkins, Hubert Green, Tom Watson, Curtis Strange, Tiger Woods,
Vijay Singh, a long list of Hall of Famers--would probably never have thought
to do it. They'd be thinking about nothing but the putt to win. Nicklaus might
have done it. Dan Forsman, you could see him doing it too.
on the low side, and Mahan's was smack-dab in the middle. All square. The
playoff hole, played on 18, was the same thing all over again: Williamson
close, Mahan closer (BIG PLAY, page�G14). Williamson missed; Mahan closed
out his locker and said, "My life's better now than it was on Monday."
You couldn't argue that. He earned $648,000, and his second-place finish got
him a spot in this week's Tour stop in Flint, Mich. But how the rest of his
year will play out he doesn't know. Where he will play next year he doesn't
know. Where he'll play in 2009 he doesn't know. He wasn't even close to elated.
A chance had come and gone. There's no saying when the next one will turn
In victory Mahan
said something insightful: "After you play out here for a little bit you
realize, This is hard. Being a professional golfer, it's not easy. Not easy to
win. There are a lot of great players who haven't won yet. You definitely think
you're good enough to win. I thought I was. But you just never know what's
going to happen."
In April he'll be
in the field at Augusta. The last time he was there, he was a hotshot amateur.
There are a lot of hotshot amateurs. Over the years, fewer than a thousand guys
have won on the PGA Tour. It's an elite club. Hunter Mahan is now in. At this
very moment there are a few hundred golfers out there, prowling the country,
trying to join him. Jay Williamson is one of them. He's still at large.
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