The conventional wisdom says yes, Mahan should have taken off from the RBC Canadian Open yesterday when his wife went into labour, despite almost $1-million in potential winnings. But I thought David Feschuk’s column in the Star, and his discussion with Canadian Brad Fritsch, about whether Mahan made the right call is interesting and warrants discussion:
When Hunter Mahan withdrew from the RBC Canadian Open as tournament leader on Saturday afternoon, he was roundly heralded for having his priorities in the right order.
His wife, Kandi, was in labour in Dallas with the couple’s first child. So while Mahan, the world’s 22nd-ranked player, led by two strokes after two rounds and was in prime position to earn the winner’s share of about $1 million (U.S.) this weekend, he abandoned the chase in the name of family.
“The birth of a child is an unforgettable experience . . . something that’s completely magical,” said fellow pro Matt Kuchar, applauding the decision.
Even Bill Paul, the tournament director who could have used Mahan’s name on the leaderboard to boost weekend ticket sales, deferred to Mahan’s judgment on the CBS broadcast: “It was the right decision for him and the family.”
Would it have been the right decision for every pro in the field at Glen Abbey Golf Club? Hardly.
Feschuk talked to Fritsch, whose son was born unexpectedly while he played in Florida earlier this year. Fritsch decided to stay and play, partly at the urging of his wife.
What would you do? I was at the birth of both of my children, and was thrilled to be there. But my wife told me last night if I had $1-million on the line, I’d have stayed and played. She was quite adamant about it — and that’s surprised me.
Here’s what Fritsch had to say:
With all that to consider, and with Megan in labour, Fritsch chose to labour. By round’s end, he was looking at cellphone photos of his newly born son, Jesse, who had arrived two weeks ahead of schedule. Given that Fritsch shot a decent round amid the excitement — an even-par 71 that gave him a chance to make the cut and earn a share of the $5.5 million purse — Megan urged him to stay in the hunt.
“She said, ‘All I’m doing is lying here in the hospital — keep playing and see what happens,’ ” Fritsch remembered.
What happened was Fritsch missed the cut and soon enough caught a commercial connection to cuddle his one-day-old son. If he’d made the cut, and had the chance to earn an important cheque, he would have waited a couple of more days to introduce himself to the new baby.
The premature arrival of a new baby to Hunter Mahan’s family couldn’t have come at a better time for Brandt Snedeker.
Mahan, who was leading the RBC Canadian Open through the first two rounds, withdrew suddenly just as he was about to tee off. As he was preparing on the range, Mahan’s wife, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kandi Harris, who was expecting the couple’s first child next month, called to say she was in labour and heading to the hospital. That meant as opposed to walking to the first tee, Mahan was heading to the airport, flying back to Dallas hoping to be there for the baby’s arrival. Mahan is apparently expecting a girl, and he and his wife already has a name picked – Zoe. The baby hadn’t arrived by the time this story was filed.
As Mahan was leaving Ontario in a private jet, Snedeker was flying around the golf course, making six birdies in his first nine holes, making the turn at 29 and putting his tidy short game and putting on display. He started the round in 15th place, but finished the day at the top of the leaderboard.
Snedeker said he came aware of Mahan’s disappearance from the leaderboard part way through his round.
“On seven tee on the par-three I looked up and I didn’t see Hunter’s name on the leaderboard, and I looked at my caddie, and I go, ‘What’s going on?’” Snedeker explained. “He goes, ‘I think Hunter had to leave because Kandi went into labor.’ So just kind of left the tournament wide open.”