2012 brings a new run for BuffaloGolfer. The Mouth ain’t just a mouth; he’s a mind. He and Mo’ Golf will square off in a point-counterpoint fashion in 2012, on purt’near every golf-related topic. Each will write independently of the other, so we won’t know how they attack the point until you do! The first week addresses Hunter Mahan’s prospects for success.

The Mouth That Roars says…

It’s fair to wonder if the best thing Hunter Mahan can do to enhance his golfing career in 2012 is simply get out of his own head. Mahan is blessed with top-level game and came into the 2011 season highly heralded and expected to do big things. When people talked Mahan in 2011, they talked majors and major accomplishments.

The discussion points will be different for Mahan as he enters this new season. Simply put, Mahan failed to back up the projections and has some questions to answer this season. Look at the first three majors of 2011 – cut from the Masters, cut from the U.S. Open and cut from the British.  Not playing the weekends is a long way from winning.

If Mahan wants to change those outcomes this season, maybe he’s got to change his approach. Sometimes you hear those expectations and you heap it on yourself as well. Mahan has strong finishes in other big tournaments. See his T6 at the Players Championship, 2nd at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and 9th at the WGC Cadillac Championship. The statistics support his strong play as he’s near the top of everything except driving distance and sand saves – but he’s still in the top 100 in both those areas. He’s also a steady contributor in team events. The game is there – the major results are not.

Best case scenario for Mahan in 2012 is he cashes in a few of those strong performances for a win or two early in the season. I think Augusta National and Kiawah set up well for him. If he’s going to win a major in 2012 it will be at those places. Maybe he heads in with lower expectations and pressure and finds himself in contention before he even realizes. I’d also love to see Mahan redeemed at this year’s Ryder Cup with a great closing match that brings him tears of joy.

Mo’ Golf says…

Three things come to mind when I think of Hunter Mahan and his dimming prospects for 2012. We’ve seen his best for a few years, my friends, so latch onto someone else for fantasy golf help.

Mahan is married now, to an extremely attractive woman (former Cowboys’ cheerleader, yadda, yadda, yadda) and will kinda dig spending time with her. They will develop interests outside of his profession and may even start a family.

Mahan did that goofy golf video with Crane, Watson and Fowler. If that’s not a guy reaching back for his youth, I don’t know what is. Trouble is, he’s still fairly young. That’s the kind of thing that angers the gods of golf and haunts you for a few years.

Finally, Mahan is way too dapper for me. He’s heading down the Jimmy Demaret highway and I don’t think that he needs sartorial distractions at this point in his career. If Lloyd Bentsen were to consider Mahan, would he remark “I knew Jimmy Demaret and you’re no Jimmy Demaret”?