Hunter Mahan back to work

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hunter Mahan is back to work at this week's PGA Championship after leaving the Canadian Open with a 36-hole lead to get home in time for the birth of his first child.

Mahan, 31, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he's received a surprising amount of attention in light of his decision to head home despite leading in Canada.

Brandt Snedeker went on to win the tournament; Mahan and wife Kandi's baby, Zoe, was born in the early morning of July 28.

"I haven't met anyone who said I made the wrong decision,'' Mahan said Tuesday at Oak Hill Country Club, where he will play in this week's PGA Championship.

"I went on Twitter just a little bit to see what the response would be -- usually they tell me how much I suck all the time and how dumb I am -- so I figured somebody would say I was an idiot, you don't know what you're doing.

"But I didn't see that. Maybe I didn't look far enough down. But it's pretty much a consensus of people saying I did the right thing. I think how much they appreciated it, and it was nice to see someone not pick sports or glory, and they picked their family in a moment like that. So it's been great."

Mahan was warming up on the range at Glen Abbey near Toronto, about to tee off in the third round with a two-stroke lead. He got word from his agent, Chris Armstrong, that Kandi had been in touch; her water had broke and Mahan said "it wasn't like she was having contractions. … It was a definite time to go home."

He looked into various charter and commercial flight options and learned of a private plane that was headed to Dallas in just a few hours. He made it home early that evening and was at the hospital well before the birth.

Mahan elected to skip last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational -- a tournament he won in 2010 -- to spend time at home with his wife and baby.

So he comes to the PGA a bit unsure of where his game stands, although it's been quite good recently. Mahan played in the final twosome at both the U.S. Open (with Phil Mickelson) and Open Championship (with Lee Westwood).

He ended up tied for fourth at the U.S. Open and tied for ninth at the Open Championship. Mahan is ranked 25th in the world.

"It's been very encouraging to be in the final group in a major, I think it's a great accomplishment, because you're the last group out there and you get to see what everybody else does,'' Mahan said. "You can see why Tiger [Woods] and those guys want to be in the last group. It's somewhat calming in a way, because you know what everyone else is doing.

"I don't know what's held me back. It's hard to win tournaments out here. It's not easy. … I think I'll get there. But I can't really point to one thing."

In the wake of his victory in Mahan's absence in Canada, Snedeker promised a nice gift.

"No, I have not received it yet," Mahan said. "But I am waiting patiently."

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