Hunter Mahan watched Jay Williamson hit two great approach shots from the 18th fairway on Sunday. Mahan stepped up both times and hit his just a little better.
Mahan earned his first PGA Tour victory Sunday by winning the Travelers Championship over Williamson with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
The win came a year after Mahan finished second in the tournament, and three days after he shot a 62 on the same course to take a first-round lead.
"Knowing that you can win and actually winning are two different things,'' he said. "And to win the way I did is just amazing to me. To have to birdie in a playoff, especially after he hit that shot in there is mind-boggling.''
Mahan shot a 65 Sunday, but was trailing by a stroke on the final hole to Williamson, a 40-year-old journeyman playing just his second Tour event this season on a sponsor's exemption.
When Williamson hit a 161-yard second shot to within 12 feet, the crowd roared. Then Mahan hit a 144-yard approach to within 7 feet. Williamson missed a 12-footer for birdie, and Mahan put his in the cup, pumping his fist and sending the pair back to the tee.
"I just kept plugging away,'' he said. "Jay gave me a little opening on 18 and I'm glad I made it.''
Williamson went right after the flag again in the playoff, and his second shot landed just over 7 feet away. Mahan then hit his 134-yard approach to within 2 feet. Williamson pushed his putt right, and could only watch as Mahan made what was almost a gimme.
"I hit it too hard and I hit it too high,'' Williamson said. "I'm not proud of either putt, but I'm proud of the way I played.''
Mahan, 25, had just one other top-10 finish this year, tying for fifth at the Shell Houston Open in April. But he plays this tournament well, posting one of his two career second-place finishes.
His 62 on Thursday was one shot off the course record, and his 71 on Friday was his first round out of the 60s in this tournament since he shot a 72 during the third round in 2005.
"After that 62, I felt it almost came out of nowhere. ... I felt like I could play good here, I know I can win.''
Mahan earns just over $1 million for the win and a spot in next year's Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii and the Masters.