WATCH: Hunter Mahan was the 36-hole leader at last year’s RBC Canadian Open when he had to leave suddenly for the birth of his daughter. Mahan recounts the incredible experience
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Ile Bizard, Que. — It wasn’t the way he expected to leave last year’s RBC Canadian Open. In the lead on Saturday, warming up for his third round, Hunter Mahan’s manager’s cellphone went off. Something was clearly wrong, and it didn’t take long before Mahan, who is based in Dallas, Texas, to be told his wife had gone into labour a month early with the couple’s first child.
What started as a day full of potential turned into a day with another possibility altogether.
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“I was excited to start the day,” Mahan, who was at Royal Montreal Golf Club for this year’s Canadian Open, said. “I remember waking up and going through my normal routine and getting out to the course and excited how I was playing that week and kind of halfway home to trying to win this event. And then getting the phone call, it was kind of pretty shocking.”
Mahan was left with a bunch of questions. How far along was his wife? When would the baby arrive? And could he get back to Texas in time for the delivery?
The doctor assured him he had time—but it was the same physician who told him his wife, Kandi, shouldn’t give birth for another month.
“It started with shock and then it was kind of like how do I get home?” he says. “So it was a little bit of frantic, a little craziness.”
After withdrawing from the tournament, Mahan and his manager searched for a way back to Texas. In a turn of serendipity, one of Mahan’s friends knew someone at a Dallas company and the business had a jet that was returning to the state that afternoon. They had room to take the golfer. He jumped in a car and within a couple of hours of receiving the call from his wife, Mahan was in the air heading home.
“Trying to get home, trying to cross the border wasn’t going to be easy,” he said. “It was incredibly lucky and fortuitous. It’s just amazing how things worked out.”
Mahan’s withdrawal from the tournament opened up an opportunity for Brandt Snedeker, who vaulted into the lead on Saturday and held off a charging Dustin Johnson in the final round to win the tournament. By that time Mahan wasn’t paying attention. Instead of worrying about golf he was figuring out how to change a diaper. Snedeker, in turn, sent some baby clothes for Mahan’s new arrival.
“It’s amazing what happens from being two people just in a marriage, a husband and wife, and all of a sudden having a third person in the world changing everything,” Mahan said. “And it changes everything overnight, too. From Friday, with me finishing up here and just playing golf and then basically Sunday morning I’m a father and I’ve got this girl I’ve got to take care of for the rest of my life. ”
Mahan is back this year to try to deal with some unfinished business. On the other hand, his daughter, Zoe, will turn one on Monday and her father is hoping he can bring home a big present, one he could readily afford should he manage to take home the $1-million prize that comes with winning the Canadian Open.