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Hunter Mahan's Mayhem and Rickie Fowler's Foul at the PGA TOUR Phoenix Open

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IMarch 1, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 28, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Hunter Mahan won his second PGA Tour event with a clutch 14-foot putt for deuce at the famed "Coliseum" 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday.

Mayhem erupted as Mahan made the putt and then added two clutch par putts on the last two holes to win by one stroke over rookie sensation Rickie Fowler.

Fowler, 21, chose to lay up on the par-five 15th hole from 235 yards. A mere three-iron would have given him a chance for a two-putt birdie and a playoff for his first PGA Tour win. Instead, his conservative approach and failed wedge shot resulted in an all-par finish over the four closing holes.

Was something foul with Fowler's play down the stretch?

Maybe the rookie's goal is to opt out of Q-School this fall with two Top-10s in six starts? After all, playing to finish high and retain one's card is less risky than going after a win and a full two-year exemption.

Fowler did not even earn his way into the Waste Management Phoenix Open—he was playing on a sponsor exemption.

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Coming into the event he was ranked No. 192 in the world.

No rookie won on the Tour in 2009, and the crop of 18 rookies this year remains winless eight tournaments into the new season.

Maybe we are seeing a new breed of rookies coming out on tour?

Great talent, hard work, conservative play and a lot of money but with no fire in the belly to win?

Mahan, known for being a Captain's pick in the last three international competitions, earned his victory with a gusty three-wood into the par-five 13th hole, setting up an eight-foot eagle putt, which he drained.

It was a finish between two Oklahoma State collegiate golfers, though only one turned out to be a true Cowboy, at least on Sunday at TPC Scottsdale.

In 2007 Mahan won the Travelers Championship and went 2-3-0 for captain Jack Nicklaus in the Presidents Cup in Montreal.

At Valhalla in 2008, where the U.S. Ryder Cup team won for the first time since 1999, Mahan went 2-0-3 for captain Paul Azinger.

Last fall at Harding Park in San Francisco the 2002 U.S. Amateur runner-up to Ricky Barnes was picked by captain Fred Couples and responded with a patriotic 2-1-1 record as the Americans won the Presidents Cup for the third time in a row. 

Y.E. Yang made a charge going six under par on the first six holes of the back nine. But then he drove into the water short left on the reachable par-four 17th hole en route to a solo third-place finish.

The 38-year-old South Korean goes to the Honda Classic this week, where he won his first Tour event last year on the way to his head-to-head PGA Championship victory over Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National Golf Course.

Certainly the rookie Fowler can learn something from Mahan, who undoubtedly will earn a spot on this year's Ryder Cup team, and the late-blooming Yang.

It takes guts and riskier decisions to win on the PGA Tour, and winning is all that counts.

Mahan crystallized this point when he shared the following with The Golf Channel after his masterful victory: "Great players win. I want to be a great player."

At age 27, Mahan went 65-65 on the weekend with no bogeys and is now 2-for-188 in PGA events. He is on his way to The Masters in five weeks, where he finished tied for 10th last year.

With a T16 at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and a T16 at Hazeltine, maybe 2010 will be a big year for Mahan in the majors.

Mahan becomes the eighth American under the age of 30 with multiple PGA Tour victories. Dustin Johnson and Sean O'Hair have three while J.B. Holmes, D.J. Trahan, Anthony Kim, Nick Watney, Charles Howell III, and Mahan have two apiece.

Mahan's mayhem may be just beginning.

Hopefully Fowler's foul will not be repeated in upcoming tournaments.


Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA Tour, volunteering and working part-time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.

He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., near the PGA Tour headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his Web site, www.MrHickoryGolf.net, by e-mailing him at Andy@MrHickoryGolf.net.

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