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Double at 18th squeezes fun out of James Hahn’s round at Quail Hollow

By Ron Green Sr.
Ron Green Sr.
Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer columnist.

James Hahn, a self-described “Tin Cup guy” with a gorgeous homemade swing and a spirit that turns the sunshine on, was walking up the Quail Hollow Club 18th hole 2 under par in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.

He had done a good day’s work. Hit a couple more good shots and he’s sitting pretty, in the “good place” that he likes to talk about.

But the game gets real complicated on Quail’s last hole, a long and creek-lined examination of a man’s game and nerve and anything else that can be insulted by a double bogey. Which is what Hahn had after hitting into a bunker and taking four shots to finish.

After he hit a poor shot from a greenside bunker, Hahn just stood there in the sand for a long time, head down, staring, looking as forlorn as the clouds hanging over the course. Seventy-two’s not a bad score, but those two lost shots mean he’s going to have to go hard Friday to make the halfway cut.

Golf obviously has no conscience. Here’s a guy who used to sell shoes at Nordstrom (“My Al Bundy period” he calls it) and now, thanks in part to golf lessons on YouTube, he’s playing big-time golf.

A guy who broke into a Gangnam dance after holing a putt on the 16th at Phoenix. A man who helps to put a smile on the game’s face. Doesn’t matter. They don’t give a Mr. Congeniality Award.

Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplants, had his latest one broken a little bit when he discovered that he had played the wrong ball on the seventh hole, a ball someone had lost over there. When he realized it, he called it on himself and was assessed a two-stroke penalty, giving him a double bogey 7. He finished the round with a 2-over-par 74 and a shake of the head.

Compton had conducted a clinic for kids earlier in the week. Good for him, golf said, it’s still two shots. Sometimes you just want to slap golf’s face. Bill Haas is on high alert this week for the arrival of his child. If word comes during the tournament, he plans to drop everything and head home.

Thursday, his departure was almost certainly hastened when he made a 9 on the seventh hole, 4 over par, and shot 79, a ticket to ride after Friday’s 36-hole cut. This is supposed to be a happy time for him. A 9 isn’t helping.

Haas is an agreeable sort, but Thursday he came off the course looking like thunder, and rightly so.

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