PEBBLE BEACH -- Know one of the most astounding golf facts on earth? It's that no Cal Berkeley alum has won a PGA Tour event. Ever. At all. In history. Which is like, you know, a long time.
James Hahn wants to change that by Sunday sundown. He figures there's a shot.
"I feel less pressure because no one expects me to win," Hahn said Saturday.
No, they just expect him to dance. A week ago at the Phoenix Open, Hahn broke off some "Gangnam Style" moves to celebrate a birdie on the tournament's famous bleacher-surrounded, par-3 16th hole.
The moment has gone viral on YouTube. Meanwhile, here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Hahn's golf has gone leader board. In a big way. He's
Hahn, who has never won a PGA Tour event, has also never played in the last group.
"I'm not exactly sure what I'll be feeling," Hahn said. "Going to be very excited. Going to be very nervous."
Likely, so will every Cal golf alum. Hahn has had an outstanding three days of golf here on the Monterey Peninsula, with Saturday's round of 66 at rugged Spyglass Hill as an exclamation point.
Hahn, an Alameda High graduate whose dad once ran a driving range in Alameda, seems to have hit a real groove at age 31 after some struggles and successes on the second-tier Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour. This winter, he's had two top-20 finishes in his four starts. He closed his Saturday round with three straight birdies.
And yet ... the Cal curse still hangs above Hahn's head. Over the years, the school has had some fine teams and fine players. So it's simply hard to believe that since the dawn of civilization, no Golden Bear has held a tour trophy in his hands on the 18th green.
"I know that stat," Hahn said. "I was hoping nobody would see that. Let's just get it out of the way."
To what does he ascribe the drought?
"I really don't know ... state taxes?" Hahn joked, a riff on pro Phil Mickelson's retracted threat to move his residence from California because of the high income tax.
In truth, there are extenuating circumstances and valid explanations for the great Berkeley victory famine. Cal has never emphasized varsity golf in the same manner as Stanford or even San Jose State, both of which have produced major champions.
Back in 1979, Berkeley administrators even demoted golf to club status until current coach Steve Desimone came aboard for a revival that saw the school win a 2004 NCAA championship. This year's team is also ranked among the nation's best. Even so, Cal golf continues to be funded solely through private fundraising and receives no state or university money, granting just three scholarships.
That situation can create uncertain rosters from year to year. For example, Hahn played two seasons of golf for Desimone before the two mutually agreed to part ways for unspecified reasons, although Hahn finished up his degree in Berkeley and seems to have no lingering hard feelings.
"I feel like the golf program there is strong," Hahn said. "I feel like the coach is doing his job to get players ready for the PGA Tour."
Desimone, speaking on the phone Saturday, was likewise supportive of his former player and will be pulling for him Sunday.
"I can tell you that when James walked into our program that we thought he had unlimited potential," Desimone said. "Nothing he's doing surprises me. And he's always been a character. I think he was a character from the time he left the womb."
If you define "a character" as someone who thinks about surfing and Adam Sandler movies to keep his mind focused during tournament rounds ... well, then Desimone is spot on.
"It's what I've been doing all week here," Hahn said Saturday. "I mean, you look over to the right, see the ocean and you think about how cool it would be to be a surfer. And I think the waves are perfect for surfing and I just want to jump in there ... It's like Happy Gilmore. You put yourself in your happy place. And this is my happy place."
An Internet search confirms: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have never uttered a quote like that. By contrast, Hahn's honesty is disarming. Someone asked him Saturday if, given that a victory here would qualify him for entry into the Masters, how much he had Augusta in the back of his mind.
"Zero," Hahn said. "I'm not even in next week's tournament. So to me, a top-10 finish would be great ... Weekends are fun for me. Weekends mean you're getting a paycheck, and I like coming home with money. And my wife likes it, too."
And if Hahn should break through to become the first Golden Bear to win on tour? What would it mean to the Cal program?
"What it means," said Desimone, "is that it would be party time. And James would be right there leading the party."
Hahn won't give away any potential victory celebration plans for the 18th green. But alert the authorities and the dancing judges. We could wind up with a very viral finish at Pebble Beach.
James Hahn 71-65-66--202 -12
Brandt Snedeker 66-68-68--202 -12
Chris Kirk 71-68-64--203 -11
Patrick Reed 68-69-67--204 -10
Richard H. Lee 68-71-66--205 -9
Retief Goosen 71-68-67--206 -8
Jason Day 68-68-70--206 -8
Webb Simpson 71-71-65--207 -7
Charlie Wi 70-70-68--208 -6
Vijay Singh 72-72-66--210 -4
Lee Westwood 68-70-73--211 -3
Stuart Appleby 70-71-71--211 -2
Jim Furyk 75-69-68--212 -2
Phil Mickelson 69-71-73--213 -1
Padraig Harrington 72-71-72--215 +1
Rory Sabbatini 74-75-70--219 +5
John Daly 77-70-73--220 +6