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Leader Mahan withdraws to attend child's birth

Hunter Mahan of the United States plays July 26, 2013 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Hunter Mahan of the United States hits his tee shot on the eighth hole during round two of the RBC Canadian Open on July 26, 2013 in Oakville, Ontario. Despite being in the lead, he withdrew after learning his wife was about to give birth.

Hunter Mahan, the leader after 36 holes, withdrew from the PGA Canadian Open on Saturday after learning that his wife was preparing to give birth to their first child.

The 31-year-old American was on the practice range at Glen Abbey after his start to the third round was delayed by a storm in the area when he received a call on his cell phone.

Moments later, Mahan pulled out and left the course for the Toronto airport, set to make a 2 1/2-hour flight to Dallas to be with his wife, Kandi, after she went into labor. She was expected to give birth to a daughter, which they had planned to name Zoe, in three weeks.

"I received exciting news a short time ago that my wife Kandi has gone into labor with our first child," Mahan said in a statement released after his departure. "As a result, I have withdrawn from the Canadian Open to return to Dallas.

"Kandi and I are thrilled about this addition to the Mahan family and we look forward to returning to the Canadian Open in the coming years."

Mahan grabbed the lead at the RBC Canadian Open after shooting 67-64 to take a two-shot lead over John Merrick heading into Saturday's round. With Mahan's WD, Merrick moved into the lead, and he was to play alone in the final group.

The situation evoked memories of Phil Mickelson at the 1998 US Open at Pinehurst when the US left-hander, who won last week's British Open, was playing with a cell phone in his bag awaiting news that his wife Amy was going into labor. Mickelson contended for the title but finished second and became a father the next day.

Mahan had fired a 67 in the first round and a 64 in the second to stand atop the leaderboard at 13-under par 131 for 36 holes.

He was seeking the sixth US PGA Tour victory of his career and his first of the season. His best showing this year was a runner-up effort at the World Golf Championships Match-Play Championship. Since then, his only top-10 showings came at majors, a share of fourth at the US Open and ninth at the British Open.

"Hopefully Hunter can get back and everything is OK," Merrick said. "It's pretty strange this happening. It is unusual to play by yourself in the last group."

Dustin Johnson, who had played alongside Mahan in the first two rounds, had the third-round clubhouse lead on 11-under after a 63 on Saturday.

"It's a good thing he is going. He's having his first child. There's no reason he wouldn't go," Johnson said. "You never want to see someone withdraw but there is a really good reason.

"It's unfortunate he had to go. He was playing well. It was going to be tough to catch him the way he was playing."

Johnson does like his chances, however, now that Mahan is gone.

"I'm in a good position for tomorrow," Johnson said. "I'm glad to be hitting the ball well. I'm playing a little better. I'm hitting the ball straighter, controling my distance a little better."