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How He Hit That: James Hahn's cold-blooded putting

February 23, 2015

Being best known for a great attitude and a willingness to do the Gangnam Style dance isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's far better to be known as a PGA Tour winner.

James Hahn did that with his 23-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff at Riviera to win for the first time. He beat two more seasoned competitors in Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, and earned his first trip to the Masters in the process.

Hahn survived the first playoff hole after hitting a flop shot over a greenside bunker on the first one to save par. On the second, he made it from 13 feet after Johnson put his approach for birdie to three feet. Then came the dagger that ended up winning the tournament when Johnson missed his own 12-footer for birdie.

The two keys to staying under control when you're standing over a putt you have to make are oxygen and routine, says tour short game guru Stan Utley. "Routines are both physical and mental, and they're equally important," says Utley, who is based at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale. "Those routines are something you can lean on when you get under pressure. But without oxygen, the body doesn't respond too well."

Don't change your routine and slow it down to breathe when you get in a tight spot. Instead, prepare ahead of time by building a routine for every shot that has breathing as an intentional component. "Then it becomes automatic," says Utley. "It doesn't mean you'll never miss a putt. But you'll miss them for golf reasons, not because the moment got too big."