Mahan nearly matches tour earnings in silly season

Mahan nearly matches tour earnings in silly season

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Hunter Mahan played 27 times on the PGA Tour this year and earned just over $2.2 million. He nearly made that much money playing just twice during the silly season.

Mahan won’t get a trophy or official recognition, but he won the “money title” during the 2008 silly season with $1.995 million. Mahan won the Kiwi Challenge, then tied for third in the Chevron World Challenge. That’s enough money in two tournaments to have finished 39th on the PGA Tour money list.

Vijay Singh played twice and finish second with $1.399 million, all but $49,000 of that coming from his victory in the Chevron (the rest came from the Father-Son Challenge).

They were the only two players to top $1 million after the PGA Tour season ended, but don’t pass the hat for the rest of them. Nine players made at least $600,000. That included Steve Stricker, whose biggest paycheck this year ($840,000) came from his runner-up finish at Sherwood Country Club.

Rocco Mediate played more than anyone in the silly season, earning $415,834 in four events.

TEEING IT UP: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has asked players to consider adding a tournament or two to their schedules. Perhaps he’s trying to lead by example.

“I’m going from zero to one,” he said, confirming he plans to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Hunter Mahan spilled the beans by saying Finchem would be his amateur partner. Instead, they’ll be in the same foursome. Finchem said he would be playing with Davis Love III, with the other amateur in the group AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson.

“The chairman and CEO of AT&T asked me to play, and I do believe I said, ‘Yes, sir,”‘ Finchem said.

Finchem said his handicap index is 6.3.

NAME CALLING: One thing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson now have in common is that both have been called the same derogatory word in public — Mickelson by Woods’ caddie at a charity dinner in New Zealand, Woods by himself after hooking his tee shot into the ocean on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach during the 2000 U.S. Open.

MARRIED MAN: Paul Casey sure found a peculiar place to spend his honeymoon.

Casey finally married his longtime girlfriend, Jocelyn, on Sunday before the Chevron World Challenge. So he played golf the week after his wedding, but host Tiger Woods gave him quite a wedding present — $200,000 for Casey’s 11th-place finish.

Casey said a proper honeymoon planned later next year. He wants to go on a safari in South Africa, and has been told that spring (September) is the best time.

The Englishman is coming up on the two-year anniversary of his last victory, in the Abu Dhabi Championship. He wonders if he spent so much time obsessing about majors that he didn’t prepare properly for other tournaments.

“I maybe fell victim to that on a couple of events,” he said. “My brain was very much geared toward what’s coming up in two weeks’ time, or what happened last week. It’s a learning process. But I can’t take too long. I’m 31. And I’m married.”

LIFE MEMBERSHIP: Davis Love III won 20 times to earn lifetime membership on the PGA Tour. Trevor Immelman won the Masters to get the same courtesy in Europe.

Immelman became the fourth South African to be awarded honorary life membership on the European Tour because of his Masters victory, joining Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Gary Player. Chief executive George O’Grady said such membership is for players who have won majors or contributed significantly to the European Tour – or in Immelman’s case, both.

Immelman first won on the Challenge Tour before capturing four titles on the European Tour schedule, including his two-shot victory over Tiger Woods at Augusta National.

“I grew up here in South Africa watching professional golf, watching the European Tour, listening to Renton Laidlaw commentate about Seve and Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam and all those guys,” Immelman said. “So for me to join them and become an honorary life member of the European Tour is something that’s just extremely special for me.”

DIVOTS: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was at Sherwood Country Club for the first time since 1994, this time under much happier circumstances. Along with a few meetings, he had lunch with Tiger Woods. The last time he was there was for the Shark Shootout, when Greg Norman introduced plans for a world tour, which the tour eventually squashed. … Davis Love III put the state of the PGA Tour into perspective with the financial crisis. “Our purses will go up next year. We’re going to get a pay raise. And that’s pretty good in this economy,” he said. … Boo Weekley keeps it simple, but he’s brighter than he lets on. Walking off the range at the Chevron World Challenge on Saturday, a fan called out, “C’mon, Boo. Get your name up there on the leaderboard.” To which Weekley replied, “It already is. There ain’t but 12 of us.” There were 16 players, but you get the point.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods (No. 1) and Phil Mickelson (No. 3) will be the only Americans among the top 10 in the world ranking at the end of this year. That’s the fewest Americans in the top 10 since 1995 with Corey Pavin (No. 5) and Fred Couples (No. 7).

FINAL WORD: “That puts me at eight or nine.” Tiger Woods, who played six PGA Tour events this year because of knee surgery, on commissioner Tim Finchem’s request that players add two or three tournaments to their schedule.

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