Mahan looks to Merion for Chambers Bay mindset

Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:57pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Two years ago, Hunter Mahan went into the final round of the U.S. Open at Merion just one stroke off the pace and held a share of the lead with four holes to go before falling back into a tie for fourth.

Mahan signed off with a five-over-par 75 in difficult scoring conditions, but said later that he was happy with how he swung the club, maintained composure and stayed in contention for the title on what he described as "a brutal" day.

That tie for fourth remains his best finish, so far, in a major championship and he is banking on using that experience at Merion to his advantage when he tees off in Thursday's opening round at Chambers Bay in the 115th U.S. Open.

"The mental grind of playing a major championship, especially a U.S. Open, is really the test," American Mahan told Reuters about his preparations for the second of the season's four majors.

"You are going to miss a putt, it's all about how stable you are mentally, how focused you are in the present in what you have to do.

"Obviously you have to play great but how you handle adversity, your ability to key in for four days, is paramount. In 72 holes, a lot's going to happen and the more you stay positive, stay in the moment, that's going to lead to success."

Of all four majors, the U.S. Open has generally been regarded as the toughest to win with its traditional course set-up of narrow fairways, thick rough and firm, fast conditions combining to produce a severe mental challenge.

Johnny Miller, who won the 1973 Open at Oakmont, has described the championship as making the players "more nervous than anything in golf, except maybe the Ryder Cup."   Continued...

May 2, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Hunter Mahan tees off on the fourth hole during day four of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac March Play at TPC Harding Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports