Louis Oosthuizen came into the final round with a 2-shot lead, but after shooting a 5-over 41 in his opening 9 holes on Sunday – the only question remaining was whether Hunter Mahan or Carl Pettersson would stumble coming in.
Both Pettersson and Mahan were tied for the lead heading into the back-nine, but the Swede would take bogey after failing to save his par from the green-side bunker on the par4 10th. Mahan, playing in the final group directly behind Pettersson, dialed in his wedge approach on the 10th to within 5 feet, making birdie and taking a 2-shot lead. Pettersson could manage no better than par the rest of the way in, finishing the day at 1-under 71 and 15-under for the event. Mahan would make things interesting, however. After finding the green-side bunker on the par3 14th, he would miss his 8 feet remaining for par, and his lead was trimmed to one. He would once again miss the green on the par3 16th, but would pitch his ball from 75 feet to within 15 inches to secure his par and maintain his 1-shot advantage. Mahan then went on to safely par the final two holes, finishing the day at 1-under 71 and 16-under for the tournament, earning his 2nd win of the 2012 season.
Mahan’s win on Sunday will officially make him the top-ranked American player when the Official World Golf Rankings reset Monday morning, moving him into the #4 spot. He made no attempt to downplay that fact afterward Sunday afternoon. “I don’t know. Not too much, I guess because — you know, it feels great. Shoot, I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t feel awesome to be ranked No. 4 in the world,” he said. “That’s a pretty surreal thing to think about. You know, I felt like I could be a good player in this game, but to win twice this year and be 4th, it feels great, really does. It shows me what I can do, you know, shows me what I’m capable of.”
All eyes won’t be on Hunter this week as we move into the Masters, but his 2 wins already this season certainly enter him into the conversation. Mahan has 5 starts at Augusta National and his best finish was T8 back in 2010, but he’s never felt this confident heading into the first major of the season. “The game feels good. I feel very capable of playing great golf, and I feel like I showed myself I don’t have to be perfect to win. You know, I felt — like I said, I felt like this week my mind was probably the strongest part of my game. That’s a great thing to feel for sure,” Mahan said. “When you play a major, you’re going to have to have all facets of the game, especially your mind has to be a strength. That’s what I’m going to take from this week is that my mind was so strong, I was able to kind of persevere through some, you know, having the lead and doing something I haven’t done before.”
For a full recap of Sunday’s action at the 2012 Shell Houston Open, click HERE.