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Brad Pitt, Meet James Hahn

James Hahn was discussing his golfing comeback with a reporter when a colleague interrupted behind the practice green at Fox Den Country Club on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's the Asian Brad Pitt," the passing golfer said with a laugh. "That's what they call him."

Actually, I didn't know that. But I could roll with it.

There are similarities — though Hahn, at 30, is considerably younger. He's 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. Pitt is 5-11 ½ and could weigh anywhere between 160 and 200, depending on his role or Angelina Jolie's mood.

While Hahn is a nice enough looking guy, I never noticed any females staring during the course of a 15-minute interview. And perhaps it should be noted that a woman didn't give him the nickname.

"Travis Brasher called me that when we were doing a TravisMathew (golf apparel) photo shoot," said an amused Hahn, who will tee off early this morning in the News Sentinel Open. "He said I reminded him of Brad Pitt the way I was modeling for them.

"I took it as a compliment."

The nickname apparently hasn't gone mainstream yet. When I Googled "Asian Brad Pitt and James Hahn," all I got was a movie trailer featuring Pitt and James Gandolfini. If there's an Asian in the movie, I didn't find him.

Undaunted, I pushed onward in my research, which eventually strengthened the Pitt-Hahn connection.

For starters, both played high school golf. More compelling was their similar determination to stay afloat financially while pursuing their passion.

Pitt dropped out of college and drove an old Datsun from his native Oklahoma to California in search of a movie career. Money to his name: $325.

While waiting for his breakthrough as an actor, Pitt delivered refrigerators, worked as a chauffeur for Los Angeles strippers and wore a chicken suit on behalf of a fast-food restaurant, which obviously helped prepare him for his role in "12 Monkeys."

Hahn, who is a native of Seoul, South Korea, graduated from the University of California in 2003, turned pro immediately, and went broke three months later.

Money to his name: "Like zero, zero" he said. "Like negative, broke."

When he couldn't get a sponsor, he got a job — several jobs, in fact. He worked for an advertising agency in his hometown of Alameda, Calif.; earned his realtor's license; and sold shoes at Nordstrom. If he chauffeured strippers around the Bay Area, he didn't tell me.

He saved up $8,000, which he deemed sufficient to re-launch a golfing career that began on the Korean Tour and continued on the Canadian Tour.

In 2008 on the Canadian Tour, his comeback was hardly flourishing. Money to his name: $288.

He was looking for jobs on Craigslist when he tied for eighth in the Edmonton Open. The next year, he won the same tournament. Let's call it the career equivalent of Pitt's hitchhiker role in "Thelma & Louise."

"That really got me going," said Hahn, who started on the Nationwide Tour in 2010.

Now, he's doing even better while traveling in faster circles. You had to witness his U.S. Open venture two months ago to realize how fast.

He won the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C., in a two-hole playoff before racing to the airport for his cross-country trip to San Francisco. He arrived in time for a Delta agent to tell him, "I don't know if your clubs are going to make it."

He wouldn't have been more anxious if she had said, "The engine has been making a funny noise, but we're going to give it a go anyway."

Hahn's trip worked out just fine, though.

The clubs made it, he got four hours sleep and proceeded to shoot 66-70 to win the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open. He didn't make the cut but made a lot of memories while adding to what has been a career year.

Forget Craigslist. Hahn is now sixth on the Web.com money list. The way he's playing, he's headed for the PGA Tour next year.

That could be the career equivalent of Brad Pitt's first leading role, as a wayward fly fisherman in "A River Runs Through It."

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