It's high noon, lunchtime, and the leaders are two hours from teeing off in the fourth round of the Travelers Championship. Yet if they can feel some heat, let it be known that it's not the weather.
It's a ball-striking machine named Hunter Mahan.
Starting Sunday in the first pairing, off at 8:30 a.m., Mahan was 1 under and 11 behind the leaders - Brian Davis and Roland Thatcher, both of whom probably were fast asleep. A little more than three hours later, Mahan was tied for third, just two off the lead, a dramatic change that came courtesy of a sizzling 9-under 61 at TPC River Highlands.
OK, so the picture probably will change by day's end, but when he signed his card, Mahan had leaped virtually the entire field. When he struck his first tee shot, 67 players were ahead of Mahan; when he rolled in a 20-footer at the 18th hole - his ninth birdie of the day and sixth on the back nine - only Davis and Thatcher sat ahead of him.
All of which left Mahan shaking his head and laughing....