Hahn rises to top at Riviera
By Peter Santo
James Hahn, previously known for his Gangham Style dance at the 16th at TPC Scottsdale a few years ago, is now known as something else, a PGA Tour winner.
Hahn, who with the win rises to 86th in the Official World Golf Ranking, defeated veterans Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson after making birdie on the 3rd playoff hole. Hahn got into the playoff after Sergio Garcia bogeyed his final two holes to relinquish the lead and finish one shot out of the playoff.
After all three players made par at the first playoff hole, they moved to the short par 4 10th. While the hole is the shortest hole on the PGA Tour all season, it is certainly not the easiest hole. As one player said about the hole, “It’s a tough, short par 5.”
Casey appeared to be in the drivers seat after driving the ball in the fairway short and left of the green, while Hahn and Johnson were in the rough facing far more difficult pitch shots.
Although he was in good position off the tee, Casey hit a poor pitch shot that finished about 15 feet from the hole. Hahn hit a fantastic flop shot over the bunker that finished just inside of Casey’s ball. Johnson then followed with one of the shots of the tournament, a flop shot out of deep rough that he somehow got to spin on the green.
After Casey missed his birdie putt, Hahn needed to make his to put the pressure on Johnson. And make it he did, Hahn rolled it in dead center. Johnson then made a 3 footer for birdie to extend the playoff.
The playoff then moved to the par 3 14th. Again Johnson appeared to be in prime position off the tee, with his tee shot finishing 15 feet from the hole. After hitting his tee shot to about 35 feet, Hahn poured in the putt of his life, making a birdie to put the pressure squarely on Johnson’s shoulders. Hahn let out a loud scream and gave a massive fist pump as Johnson began to line up his putt.
Hahn couldn’t bear to watch as Johnson’s birdie putt never had a chance and finished a foot left of the hole. After a wild week at Riviera, it was relative unknown James Hahn who was going to walk away victorious.
Hahn stood toe to toe with a budding superstar and crafty veteran throughout the playoff and held his nerve superbly. Displaying some clutch shot making that should make him a force to be reckoned with in years to come.
After nearly being forced to give up golf three years ago with his bank account having just $300 in it, Hahn has finally realized his potential and can now reap the benefits of being a Tour winner.
With the win Hahn earns a two-year exemption on Tour and an invitation to the 2015 Masters. The only thing left for Hahn to do was to start dancing on the 18th green. While he didn’t perform an epic dance, Hahn surely celebrated his inaugural victory.