Monday, February 23

Riviera Roughs Up Field, Hahn Wins Northern Trust Open in Playoff

MAN, THAT RIVIERA IS a tough track.

Hogan's Alley, as it has been called through the years, is a dark alley of sorts, the kind of scary alley you don't want to get caught in late on a Sunday when you're trying to get home with a win.

That was certainly the case yesterday in overcast, rainy, breezy Pacific Palisades, situated a short distance from the Pacific Ocean.

James Hahn
A player named James Hahn survived the Riviera gauntlet better than the others, outlasting Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a sudden-death playoff. It was the first PGA Tour title for Hahn, who came to Los Angeles ranked 297th in the world and left with a career-changing victory and ranked No. 86.

Riviera may have stolen Hahn's lunch money, but it mugged 54-hole leader Retief Goosen and roughed up other golfers who had legitimate chances to win on a gray Sunday in L.A. Names such as Johnson, Jim Furyk, Graham DeLaet, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Sang-Moon Bae struggled over the closing holes.

The only moves were backwards. There was talk from the CBS towers of possible birdies, like on the 17th, a reachable par-5 with two big pokes. But it was just talk. As it turned out, for many contenders, that deceptively difficult 17th was a bogey hole not a birdie hole.

So was the 18th, one of the best finishing holes on the circuit.

In a TV interview immediately following the playoff, Hahn was humbled by his achievement.

"I never would have thought I would win this tournament," he said, paying homage to the name golfers he had beaten.

That seems about right at Riviera. The unheralded player wins, the name players only come close and a classic golf course is the master of them all.

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