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Hunter Mahan set to defend Travelers title

American Hunter Mahan, fresh from a tie for 18th at the U.S. Open, has good feelings about his title defence at this week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Although the 26-year-old has mainly struggled for the last three months on the PGA Tour, he enjoys a comfort level at the TPC River Highlands.

“I’m excited to be back here and I feel good about my game,” Mahan told reporters on the eve of Thursday’s opening round.

“I just haven’t been able to break through as much as I’d like, but the game’s been pretty good. I’m excited about where it is and where it’s going.”

Mahan, winner of the 1999 U.S. junior amateur, had high hopes for 2008 after winning his maiden PGA Tour title at last year’s Travelers Championship.

Although he tied for fifth at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii and shared sixth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has missed four cuts and withdrawn once in his last eight starts.

“I just haven’t been able to finish or just had a couple little things that have kind of hurt me a little bit,” he said.

“But I feel like my game is a lot better than last year and hopefully I’ll get on a run like I did then,” added Mahan, who won last year’s title with a tap-in birdie on the first extra hole of a sudden-death playoff with compatriot Jay Williamson.

“I was excited how I played last week and I’m looking forward to this week.

“When you come back to a place like this, confidence kind of just goes into it all of a sudden and you feel great about playing.

“The layout just kind of fits my eye. Great thing about here is it has a great finish and you can make birdies and bogeys pretty fast. It’s an exciting course to play.”

Although this week’s PGA Tour event runs straight after the U.S. Open, the second major of the year, Mahan faces a strong field that includes three of the world’s top 12.

Seventh-ranked Justin Rose of Britain, Fiji’s Vijay Singh (ninth) and American Stewart Cink (12th) will all tee off on Thursday along with former winners J.J. Henry, Brad Faxon and Woody Austin.


June 19, 2008

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