Riviera breakthrough made Hahn's career worthwhile
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Former shoe salesman James Hahn knows as well as anyone how difficult is to win on the PGA Tour, and will always be thankful that his hard work finally paid off at last year's Northern Trust Open.
Aged 33, the American journeyman clinched his maiden PGA Tour title in a three-way playoff with compatriot Dustin Johnson and England's Paul Casey and now, 12 months later, he is excited to be back at Riviera Country Club as the defending champion.
"Getting the first victory on Tour really solidified that what I'm doing is the right thing at this point in my life," Hahn told reporters at Riviera Country Club on Tuesday while preparing for Thursday's opening round.
"All the sacrifices that I've made, all the time, the sweat and spending time away from family, the financial investments that I've made, makes it all worth it in the end.
"Because until you actually win, there's a sense of not knowing if you will win or will ever win in your career. We've seen a lot of PGA Tour players have successful careers and never win."
Born in South Korea but educated in the United States, Hahn won last year's Northern Trust Open on the third extra hole, hitting his tee shot to 24 feet and sinking the birdie putt before Johnson missed his attempt from 12 feet.
Casey had been eliminated on the previous hole.
"This is I think the most brutal sport where you can be a really successful golfer, and live comfortably, fly private and have a nice house, nice car, and never win," said Hahn, who has spent most of his golf career competing on the satellite tours.
"Winning is very special. I'll be sitting in my bed late at night and that's something that no one can ever touch, the feelings that I have of winning this golf tournament, the trophy.
"Those are the things that we have worked so hard for. Whether or not I win another one, that's something that no one will ever take away from me."
Hahn, who has previously worked as an assistant account executive with an advertising company and also as a shoe salesman, celebrated two life-changing moments a year ago.
Not only did he clinch his first PGA Tour win at Riviera, but he and his wife welcomed their first child a week later.
"We had a daughter, so I think that is the biggest change that I've had in my life - not getting any sleep, for sure, changing more diapers," Hahn smiled.
"Now, I'm just not having as much 'me time' and dedicating more to our family time. That's become a big priority in my life."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)