Many fell prey to the heat that scorched Congressional Country Club on Friday afternoon, but not Hunter Mahan, whose sweet swing and cool demeanor helped him en route to a blistering six-under 65 in the second round of the AT&T National, which included birdies on two of the last three holes.
Heading into what’s expected to be another super hot and humid weekend, Mahan, -7, leads by two strokes over Brendon de Jonge, Jimmy Walker and Robert Garrigus. Mahan, 30, kept hydrated and played so well that the record-high temperatures didn’t bother him or affect him mentally.
“It wasn’t like hard round,’ he said in his post-round presser early Friday evening. “I hit so many fairways and greens, I made it easy on myself. This is a pretty punishing golf course, if you get off line a little bit, and swinging well, hit a lot of good shots. I put myself in some great spots to make putts.
“I felt like I played well on the back when it was getting really hot and you’re getting a little bit more tired and kind of was able to bear down and stay focused and put as much effort as I could into each shot.”
Mahan, who shot a career-best 61 last Sunday at Travelers Championship, found 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. He said he only probably missed one loose iron shot, which was on No. 17, but he recovered nicely with an up-and-down that he was “really proud of.”
He’s also happy with his mental game, which is crucial when grinding it out in the difficult conditions and charring heat.
“Once your mind goes, the body is going to go with it,” said Mahan. “It’s very important to be mentally strong.
“That’s why these guys work out all the time and try to keep our bodies in shape for days like this when it tough out there and it beats you down and stuff. We’ve got two more days of this, so it’s going to be important to take care of yourself every night and every day when you’re out on the golf course, or it’s going to cost you shots.”
The 36-hole cut came at six-over, with 80 guys out of the 119-player field surviving to play at least another round.
Congressional took quite a few victims on Friday — yours truly included, though it was due to clumsiness rather than dehydration. (Since you’re going to ask, I tripped over my own feet and sprained my ankle — the weak one that I famously hurt during the Monday playoff at the Phoenix Open in 2011. You see, the floor in the media center is concrete with thin carpet covering it, which makes it kind of bouncy, if that makes any sense. It happened quickly and I thought it was just a standard ankle roll and tried to shake it off. Well, not the case, probably because the impact on the concrete was so hard. Yes, it was and is very embarrassing.)
At least two players suffered from heat stroke. Chris Couch was treated by paramedics on the golf course, and Chris Stroud fell ill to dehydration and was forced to withdraw after eight holes.
Word is a minimum of five caddies went down in the afternoon. Lucas Glover’s caddie Don Cooper supposedly vomited on a green. (Awful, but classic!) Other loopers who got sick included Chris Mazziotti (Kyle Reifers) and Mike Hicks (Spencer Levin).
It’s been a tough week health-wise for the Henley brothers. First, Brent Henley, who works for Robert Garrigus, cut his head badly when he “head-butted” the caddie trailer on Thursday morning (apparently there’s still blood everywhere at the scene). Brent was sent to the ER, where he received more than 40 stitches. He was back at work on Friday, though, helping Garrigus on his way to a 67. His brother, the more gregarious and infamous, Kip Henley, was kind enough to post pictures of the gash yesterday, along with Brent’s fancy headgear today.
Brent said he actually felt better than usual despite his head injury. Maybe he got some good meds?
Drink lots and lots of fluids this weekend, everyone! I mean, seriously, start the night before and don’t stick with just water, either. Remember to throw in a Gatorade or two in between to replenish the electrolytes. In the meantime, I’ll try to do a better job of walking — or at least hobbling — when I’m back on both feet.
(Getty Images/Rob Carr)