James Hahn, the newest PGA Tour pro from the Bay Area, stayed hot on the golf courses of Palm Springs for the second day in a row and is once again tied for first place in the 2013 Human Challenge. Hahn shares the top spot on the leaderboard with Roberto Castro, a 5th-year pro who is in his second full year as a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour. The pair have carded identical rounds of 63-67 – 130 to lead the tournament by one stroke over their nearest pursuers.
Hahn, 31, graduated from Cal-Berkeley in 2003 and tried his luck on the mini-tours, but wasn’t able to make a go of it. Letting go of his dream, for a while, he returned to the Bay Area, took a job at an advertising agency and got his real estate license. The golf bug wouldn’t let up, though, and Hahn quit his full-time job, took part-time work selling women’s shoes at Nordstrom, and worked on his golf game.
Taking the game more seriously in his second pass at it, Hahn played the Canadian, Korean and Gateway Tours before moving up to the Web.com (then Nationwide) Tour. Hahn enjoyed success on the Web.com Tour in 2012, including a victory at the Rex Hospital Open last June, placing 5th on the developmental tour’s money list and earning his way onto the PGA Tour for the 2013 season.
Playing on the La Quinta Country Club course today, Hahn carded a 5-under 67 on the 7,060-yard par-72 course, notching five birdies and an eagle, on the par-5 fifth hole, against one bogey. His birdie-eagle-birdie stretch in the the middle of his inward nine (he started in #10) pulled him up to 14-under and into a tie with Castro. Castro, a native of Houston who calls Atlanta home, was on the Palmer Private Course at PGA West today, and had gone as low as 16-under before closing out his round bogey-par-bogey to drop back to 14-under.
Hahn’s friends and supporters here in the Bay Area, including the membership at his home course, Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, are crossing their fingers and hoping that he is able to maintain the stellar form he has displayed so far down in the Southern California desert. If he pulls this off, he will be the first Bay Area golfer to win on the PGA Tour since Arron Oberholser’s 2006 victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.