THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
GOLF: PGA NORTHERN TRUST OPEN
Details/TV: At Riviera Country Club, Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 2:
James Hahn must have felt like the mayor of Los Angeles on a rainy Sunday in February last year.
Not the James Hahn who actually was the L.A. mayor some 15 years ago. This James Hahn, who had had been on the PGA Tour without a win until he somehow survived a three-man playoff, had a weekend to remember.
“I remember a lot,” he said the other day.
First, he recalled how he and Dustin Johnson were on the back nine of the final round going back and forth in the lead, but then Hahn he hit his ball in high grass about 30 yards short of the green on No. 12 and told his caddie: ‘If we don’t find this ball, we’re done’ because he’d likely take a triple-bogey when all was said and done …
OK, you can fast forward a bit. Sergio Garcia, the tournament leader playing in the group behind those two, bogeyed his final two holes. All of the sudden, there’s a traffic jam on the leaderboard with Hahn, Johnson and Paul Casey.
Bring the umbrella, we’re going to extra holes.
“I’ve re-watched it about 20 times,” Hahn said.
They all scramble for a par on 18 again on the first sudden death.
Casey then falls out on the 10th second hole because his par can’t match the ridiculous birdies put up by Hahn and Johnson. Hahn’s flop shot in wet grass over the back bunker behind the green sets him up for a 10-foot putt to stay in it.
Now on the par 3 14th, Hahn hits a 6-iron into the mist and wind and he’s on the green about 25 feet away. Hahn aimed left of the hole and said he “just trusted that it was the correct read. Hopefully, it wasn’t that it had hit a patch of poa annua and it broke right. … Hit a perfect putt, had perfect speed and it went in.”
Johnson then missed his birdie try from 12 feet.
Hahn didn’t even both to do his usual “Gangnam Style” dance. He was too humbled.
The 33-year-old born in South Korea who attended Cal won a trip to the Masters for the win.
The Northern Trust Open (which is the last year this even will go under this sponsor heading) is marking 90 years as the L.A. stop on the PGA Tour. Harry Cooper won the 1926 event when it was simply called the Los Angeles Open. Hahn finds himself defending it in a field that includes Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and 2014 winner Bubba Watson.
“This will be the first time that I’ve had to go back as a defending champion,” Hahn said. “I’ve already gotten multiple texts from people sending my pictures of my face on the side of buses and at shopping malls and billboards. It’ll be interesting. I’ve never had that happen before.”
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
The Clippers come off the All Star break facing the trade deadline (Thursday, noon) with home games against San Antonio (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and Golden State (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Channel 7) … The Daytona 500 starts the NASCAR Sprint Cup season (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11) … USC and UCLA play host to Utah and Colorado in college basketball … More at this link …