Alameda Native Hahn Wins Northern Trust Open

Courtesy hornetfootball.org - James Hahn

Alameda native James Hahn won his first Pro Golf Association (PGA) tournament event by taking down some of the biggest names in golf on his way to win the Northern Trust Open last weekend. 

Hahn, 33, needed a three-hole playoff to win the event played at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Hahn shot a six-under 278 through the four rounds of the tournament along with PGA standouts Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey.

The three men started the playoff on the 18th hole. Each man made par sending the playoff to the 10th hole, which was 310 yards long. Casey had the easiest tee shot, landing his ball left of the green. He pitched to 15 feet. Johnson and Hahn, an Alameda High graduate, were in the wet rough behind the green. Hahn pitched to 10 feet, and Johnson followed him with a shot into 3 feet. Johnson and Hahn made birdies, while Casey missed his birdie opportunity and was eliminated. 

The third and deciding playoff hole between Johnson and Hahn was played on the 14th hole. Hahn went first on the par-3 14th. Hahn hit his ball 25 feet from the pin, while Johnson’s ball landed more than halfway toward the hole at 12 feet. He had the same putt on 14 in regulation and knew that while everything pointed to the putt breaking left, it really slid slightly to the right. Hahn used this tactic to sink the 25-footer. Johnson, on the other hand, could not sink the 12-footer, and Hahn was declared the victor.

Hahn entered the final round on Sunday, Feb. 22, tied for sixth place at 4-under par. Retief Gooen led the field after three rounds at 8-under par, four strokes ahead of Hahn. Graham DeLaet was six-under after three for second place. Sergio Garcia, J.B. Holmes and Sang-Moon Bae were tied for third place at five-under par. Hahn was able to outshoot them all on his way to the win. 

Hahn and his caddie celebrated the victory after Johnson’s putt rolled off the 14th hole. His caddie doused Hahn with beer and members of Hahn family gave him a congratulatory hug. Hahn once sold shoes at a high-end department store to make a living. He was on the verge of giving up on golf in 2008, but decided to give it one last chance. And that last chance paid off figuratively and literally.

Hahn received $1.2 million of the $6.7 million purse for winning the event. The win also earned him an invitation to the 79th Masters Tournament in April. 

Contact Ekene Ikeme at eikeme@alamedasun.com.