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Faxon Won't Forget This

Golf: He makes winning putt, helping to ease painful memories of Oak Hill.


SOTOGRANDE, Spain — Brad Faxon came to Spain for the Ryder Cup with two very different images from his golfing life packed away in his baggage.

One would be the curling 17-foot putt he made on the last hole on the last day at Riviera Country Club in the 1995 PGA Championship that earned him a place on the Ryder Cup team.

The other is the right-to-left, downhill seven-foot putt he missed on the last hole of the last day at Oak Hill Country Club in the 1995 Ryder Cup that has stuck with him ever since.

When Faxon missed at Oak Hill, he missed halving his match with David Gilford, it was a one-point swing and the U.S. lost the Cup, 14 1/2-13 1/2.

There are of photographs of Faxon, eyes closed, lifting his putter in front of his face in disbelief.

As luck and fortune and coincidence would have it, there was Faxon facing another important putt and irony tapping on his shoulder once again.

Faxon, the 36-year-old freckled redhead from Barrington, R.I., needed to guide a slightly downhill five-foot putt with a right-to-left break to win a morning four-ball match on Friday's opening day of the Ryder Cup.

This time, the ball went in. Faxon and his partner, Fred Couples, defeated Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood, 1-up, in what was either a blatant case of retribution or simply a match on the first day of the Ryder Cup.

Faxon said it was both.

"Oak Hill is going to hurt forever because that putt didn't go in and we didn't win," Faxon said.

"But we are comparing things that are a little different. This is just the first day, not the last."

Actually, it's probably about time the breaks started going Faxon's way because he has been struggling with the game of life recently. His wife, Bonnie, filed for divorce. His former college roommate at Furman was killed in a car wreck.

If there is anyone who might be distracted this Ryder Cup, it's Faxon. But he said his focus is something he tries to direct toward his golf. He likes to remember the good shots, not the bad.

After all, Faxon said, that's what the good players do. Besides, Mark Twain had something to say about that sort of approach and it stuck in Faxon's mind.

"I'm a great believer in his quote about having a long-term memory of your successes and a short-term memory of your failures," he said.

For Faxon, they may be words to live by.

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