Hunter Mahan enters Masters as top-ranked American
Hunter Mahan doesn’t have to clutter his mind thinking about making some drastic change to his game.
If he wants to contend for a green jacket, he simply hopes for more of the same.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and keep working hard,” he said Tuesday. “Just enjoy it. This is a special tournament, and it’s a pleasure to play in it, really.”
Mahan has placed in the top 25 in all but one event this season, with Sunday’s win at the Houston Open making him the lone two-time champ on the PGA Tour.
The impressive play has made him the highest-ranked American in the world at No. 4, but Mahan isn’t thinking about that. Instead, he’s trying to crack the nut that is Augusta, where’s he’s had a mixed bag of results.
There were the missed-cut years of 2008 and 2011, when he played under par just once.
Sandwiched in between those years were top-10 finishes and a pair of 7-under scores, with his opening-round of 66 in 2009 leaving him tied for second.
His recent play has been even more impressive and consistent.
Mahan’s first win this year came at the WGC-Match Play Championship, where he beat Rory McIlroy after making a putter switch.
“It’s the good thing about golf, you’re never done. You’re never done working, never done trying to get better,” he said.
His Masters preparation included practicing on the front nine Tuesday. He hopes to play in the Par-3 Contest after he goes through the second nine Wednesday.
The 29-year-old said he learns something new about the course every time he plays it. On Tuesday, he picked up on the thicker grass, which lessens the severity of the greens.
He’s going to have to keep up with all those details to be in solid position, but Mahan said he’s never felt better about his game.
“It’s been a nice little progression since the beginning of the year,” he said. “All the things have come together, so I’m liking where I’m at.”