James Hahn, First Cal Alum to Win on PGA Tour, Now Headed to Masters
Feb. 23, 2015
The biggest thing Cal alum James Hahn had previously been known for was his Gangnam Style dance on the 16th at TPC Scottsdale during the 2013 Waste Management Open.
He’s now headed to a much bigger stage.
The 33-year-old Korean American sank the putt of his life—a 23-footer for birdie on the third hole of a sudden death playoff versus Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey-to win the Northern Trust Open on Sunday at historic Riviera CC in Pacific Palisades.
Not only was it Hahn’s first PGA Tour win, but it secured a berth into this year’s Masters. He entered the Northern Trust Open ranked No. 297 in the world.
“Amazing. To go three playoff holes, I was telling my caddie, Mark, if I can last at least one playoff hole, I think I have a good chance,” said Hahn, who grew up in Alameda and honed his game at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex.
For Hahn, it’s always been an uphill struggle. In 2008, while competing on the Canadian Tour (now PGA Tour Canada), he nearly gave up his pursuit of professional golf due to a lack of funds and desire.
Even until he hoisted the trophy at Riviera, he was still relatively unknown.
“I was walking up the stairs (to the clubhouse), and I played with Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson and this little kid was like: ‘Okay, good job, Jim. Good job, Dustin. Good job …'” recalled Hahn, who got no love when he walked by. “He was like, ‘Who’s that guy?'” Hahn grinned. On his way to the range to warm up for his playoff, he stopped to sign some autographs. He asked one of the fans what was going on and was told there was a playoff between Johnson, Casey and “some other guy.” “I was like, ‘Yeah? Okay, cool, here’s your hat,” said Hahn, who plans on taking the next month off as he awaits the birth of his daughter. “It’s definitely humbling. I mean, I don’t expect anybody to know my game. I just play golf for a living.”
Among those taking note of Hahn’s win was his old coach, Cal’s Steve Desimone. With his win, Hahn, who played at Cal in 2000-2001, became the first former Bear to win on the tour.
“It’s great to know the drought is over,” Desimone said. “We’ve been close before, but it’s one thing to be close and another thing to win on the PGA Tour,” Desimone said. “What a great day for James and Cal golf. I’m just so happy for him and so proud of him.”
Overall, it was a great weekend for the Bears, as Cal closed out its fifth consecutive win at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate during third and final-round action Friday with a nine-under par team score that was the best of the 54-hole event hosted by Hawai’i at Wailua Golf Course.
Shotaro Ban (67-72-69 – 208, -8) led the Golden Bears to their third team victory in seven events this season by winning individual medalist honors for the first time in his career. The Bears also got a boost from Stevenson School alum Seb Crampton, who shot 2-under 214 to earn eighth place.