Mahan makes presence felt

Hunter Mahan

Hunter Mahan

First published in National Sport News © by

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the two favourites for this week's Masters, but American Hunter Mahan has issued a timely reminder not to forget him.

The man whose fluffed chip cost America the last Ryder Cup is up to a career-high fourth in the world after winning the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.

Mahan now moves on to Augusta as his country's highest-ranked player for the first time and the only one on the PGA Tour this season to register two victories. He ended February by beating McIlroy in the final of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

If this week is to see the 14th different winner in the last 14 majors - and the eighth in a row who has never won one before - then the 29-year-old looks as likely as anybody.

He beat Swede Carl Pettersson by a stroke in Texas, a one-under-par 71 being good enough after overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen had two double bogeys and three bogeys in his first 10 holes.

"I feel great," said Mahan. "I had the lead for most of the back nine and hit some clutch shots. I'm playing good. I'm glad I'm going to Augusta - it's really a special place and I'm looking forward to going there."

Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, did at least finish strongly to take third place, while three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson was in a tie for fourth, Lee Westwood 21st after a closing 73 and Graeme McDowell only 63rd following a disappointing 77.

A year ago Mickelson won in Houston, but then came only 27th at Augusta, so he will hope he is peaking at the right time.

"I didn't hit the ball close enough with my irons," he said. "And when I had a lot of good putts that came close they didn't quite fall like last year, but I feel like I'm getting some good momentum heading into next week.

"I've been working on the shots around the greens and so forth that I'll need. It comes down to touch and feel with the wedges and the putter on those greens."

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