Hunter Mahan certainly was in the final consideration for the U.S. Ryder… (Stew Milne / Associated…)
With Tuesday's announcement by Captain Davis Love that Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Brendt Snedeker and Jim Furyk would round out this year's 12-man Ryder Cup team, the hole in Hunter Mahan's heart may have grown a bit.
Mahan was certainly in the final considerations, and his desire to return to the every-two-years classic -- this year's in Chicago - -likely has more to do with memories than simply professional accomplishment.
On an early October Day at Celtic Manor in Wales two years ago, with the rain finally taking a break and the U.S. team putting on a stirring rally against the Europeans, it came down to the final match between Graeme McDowell and Mahan. Mahan had known that his tee time in those singles match-play finals could likely put him on the final hot seat, and he had nodded yes to Captain Corey Pavin's request.
Mahan's U.S. teammate, Jim Furyk, said later that most pro golfers would admit they wanted no part of the pressure cooker Mahan had taken on.
Add to that the fact that McDowell, the Northern Irishman, was having the best year of his life with a U.S. Open trophy already sitting on his mantle, and Mahan was taking on a huge challenge.
That's exactly what came to pass. McDowell made a near-impossible birdie putt--a downhill, sidehill slider--on No. 16 and that meant that, were the U.S. team to take the Ryder Cup back home with them, Mahan would have to win the next two holes. That would mean a 14-14 tie, and you had to win the cup back, not tie it.
Mahan's tee shot on the par-three 17th was short of the green, but his chip was a fairly simple, unimpeded stroke. Still he had to win the hole, not tie it. And when he did what 99.9% of the world's duffers would have done with the shot--chunked it--Europe had won the Ryder Cup.
Iin the press conference afterward, Mahan was asked about it and could not quite finish his responding sentence. Phil Mickelson put his arm around him and Furyk and Steve Stricker came to his verbal defense.
Now, sadly for Mahan, he won't get a public chance to figuratively finish that sentence again, in a Ryder Cup setting where he certainly wanted to.
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