x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Hunter Mahan seeks new pastures

The Qatar Masters will provide the US PGA Tour player a different experience from playing in America.

Hunter Mahan has had three career victories on the US PGA Tour.
Hunter Mahan has had three career victories on the US PGA Tour.

Hunter Mahan is making his first appearance in the Middle East this week at the Qatar Masters in Doha, and he believes the experience will make him a better golfer.

"This is what golf is at the moment – worldwide," the American said.

"It's difficult for me to be a global player as my roots are in the US, and it's not like I am going to join the European Tour any time soon, but in saying that I do feel as though I am becoming a better player playing a little more around the world."

The chance to play on different courses will help his game, said Mahan, who has three career wins on the US PGA Tour.

"It's good to learn to play off different grasses, compete on different golf courses, experience windy conditions, and it helps to keep your mind sharp," he said.

"In the US we play too much on the same golf courses every year so to play a new golf course like this one in Doha, my mind is going to have to be sharp. You have to think more and be more a complete golfer."

Mahan arrived in Doha after finishing joint-sixth at the Farmers Insurance Open in California on Sunday. He joins six other players from the world's top 20 in this week's tournament, led by No 3 Lee Westwood and No 4 Martin Kaymer.

"I know many of the leading European Tour players so that's going to help this week," Mahan said. "I'm also coming off a good result last week. That was my first tournament for six or seven weeks.

"It was good to get back out there and see where my game was at because you're never too sure how you are going to perform having had so many weeks off."

Mahan and Graeme McDowell will reprise their decisive 2010 Ryder Cup encounter after being drawn together for the opening two rounds of the tournament, which starts today on Doha Golf Club's challenging 7,414-yard course.

With the overall Ryder Cup score tied, the two golfers played the deciding final match at Celtic Manor in Wales. McDowell secured a 3-and-1 victory that gave Europe the title and left Mahan in tears after he fluffed his chip shot at the 17th hole.

"Graeme and I get on very well so I'm sure we'll have a good couple of days," Mahan said.

"The Ryder Cup was a good time ago and I am now focused more on making this year's team. It was disappointing to be on that losing side so I really want to get myself on [the captain] Davis Love's team to be on a winning team."