Hunter Mahan not sleepwalking at AT&T
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Many players opt out of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in favor of a week off. Weather in Monterey can be dicey, and the format lends itself to five- and six-hour rounds with amateur playing partners.
One player in the field who had a legitimate reason to take a break is Hunter Mahan. The 29-year-old finished tied for sixth two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, then hopped a flight from San Diego through London and on to Doha, Qatar, to play in the Qatar Masters.
After missing the cut, he flew back to the United States via Houston and on to Monterey to tee it up this week.
"Coming back really wasn't that bad," Mahan said following a second-round 70 at Pebble Beach that puts him at 7 under, 5 shots back of leader Charlie Wi and tied for eighth.
Mahan seemed wary of making excuses for a disappointing finish with two bogeys in his last nine holes on a rainy afternoon.
"I just didn't hit it as well today, but that has nothing to do with fatigue. I'm prepared to play here."
Doha is 11 hours ahead of Pacific time, making it the wee hours of Saturday morning there when Mahan finished up his round Friday afternoon.
"I'm telling you it really isn't that bad," he said with a laugh, when pressed on how his hectic travel might be affecting him.
Mahan also attributes getting into a groove here to being part of a comfortable group.
"I'm not in the celebrity wave, so play isn't that slow," Mahan said. "Plus, I've played with my partner a few years here and we play together at home."
Mahan's partner, Tom Dundon, the president & CEO of Santander Consumer Finance, is a member of Dallas National Golf Club and carries a respectable 7 handicap.
"The key for me in any tournament is getting into a rhythm no matter what my travel schedule is," Mahan said. "Here, there's a pre-tournament mindset I get into. I know it's going to be slow, but I know I need to keep my routine and my focus. If I let things like slow play or being a little tired get me off, then I'd have no business being on this tour."
Mahan's keen on keeping his head in the tournament and off the pillow.
"My sleep cycle is settled. I'm doing all the things I normally do. I didn't go to Mars."
Mahan will need that focus as he heads into Saturday's round on the most difficult run of the event, Spyglass Hill.
"I've heard that course is playing as well as we've ever seen it. I've never played that course with ground this hard, so I'm looking forward to that."
Currently sitting near the top of the leaderboard, Mahan could make a big move with a low round at Spyglass, where scores were high on Friday.
When asked whether he was concerned about bigger numbers there in Round 2, he said, "That's the great thing about playing here, you never quite know what the next day will bring. Maybe it'll be a little rainy; maybe it'll be nice."
Either way, it's unlikely he'll lose any sleep over it.
Sarah Turcotte is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a former editor for ESPN The Magazine. You can find her online archives here.
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