EDISON, New Jersey (Reuters) - It is Hunter Mahan’s time of the year, as the American has kept his date with the season-ending FedExCup playoffs every year since its inception eight years ago.
Mahan enters The Barclays, which opens the lucrative four-event series at Plainfield Country Club on Thursday, as the only player to have qualified and played in all 32 tournaments ever staged in the series.
“I‘m proud of that fact,” Mahan, 33, said on the eve of defending The Barclays title he won last year at Ridgewood Country Club.
Only the top 125 players on the FedExCup points list qualify for the first event, 100 for the Deutsche Bank Championship, 70 for the BMW Championship and 30 for the Tour Championship.
“Everybody wants to get to the Tour Championship because you were the best 30 players that year,” said Mahan, who finished 6th in the final FedExCup standings last year.
“It’s a combo of playing good all year and then playing good at the right time. I take great pride in that and I think it’s a great accomplishment because it’s through a long period of time. It’s eight years of great golf.”
This season has not been among Mahan’s best.
The six-times winner on the PGA Tour has not won this season and posted just three top 10s, with his best result a tie for third at the 2014-15 season-opening Frys.com Open last October.
He’s ranked 77th on the points list, but last year’s results show that a turnaround is possible.
Billy Horschel, who took home the $10 million bonus prize for winning the FedExCup series, was 69th on the points list at the start and slipped to 82nd after The Barclays.
But Horschel then tied for second at the Deutsche Bank and won both the BMW Championship and Tour Championship to claim the jackpot.
Mahan said he never quite got on track during the season.
“My swing wasn’t great. Nothing was great ... the swing, putting, short game,” he said, adding that “life happens.”
“I had my second child, which is great news. But it happened kind of at the start of the year and I just didn’t prepare for the season as well as I need to.”
Now comes his FedExCup chance and Mahan is thankful for a chance to put a happy ending on the season.
“You can have an OK season and all of a sudden you play good at the right time and be a FedExCup champion,” he said. “It’s a great honor that every player wants to have.”
Editing by Frank Pingue