Mahan feels the pain of Ryder Cup loss

By Associated PressOctober 5, 2010, 12:05 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Hunter Mahan kept searching for the words. All he could muster were tears.

From the ecstasy of Valhalla to the despondency of Celtic Manor, Mahan was the unmistakable face of an American team that came so close pulling off an improbable comeback, only to hand the Ryder Cup back to the Europeans on Monday.

Mahan asked to be in the last singles match, asked to have the pressure of the anchor spot put squarely on his shoulders. At the end, the blonde-haired Texan got exactly what he wanted: the match that would decide who got the cup.

Only it didn’t go as planned. Instead of the cheers Mahan heard two years ago as one of the stars of a U.S. triumph, he tasted the bitterest of defeats, his last hurrah ending at No. 17 with a short tee shot, a flubbed chip and a putt from off the green that wasn’t even close.

Mahan didn’t bother making Graeme McDowell putt out, shaking hands with the Northern Irishman, then clearing out of the way so the Europeans could begin their celebration right there on the 17th green.

The Americans lost 14 1/2 -13 1/2 . Mahan took the blame, as unfair as that is in a team competition that played out over 28 matches and four days.

“He just beat me today,” Mahan said, struggling to keep his composure.

When he joined his teammates in the interview room, his anguish was apparent. They patted Mahan on the back, trying to prop him up. They praised him for his courage and tried shifting the blame to other points lost. He kept rubbing his eyes, trying desperately to keep from breaking down for all the world to see.

“I’m just proud to be a part of this team,” Mahan said. “It’s a close team, and …'

That’s about all he could say.

His teammates spoke for him.

“We are all proud to be part of this team,” Phil Mickelson chimed in, giving Mahan a gentle slap on the shoulder. “We came within half a point. But we could look anywhere throughout those 28 points for that half a point.”

Asked how it felt to know the entire match hinged on his one-on-one with McDowell, Mahan teared up again. And Mickelson ran interference again.

“Let’s go to another one. Yes, in the blue back there,” Lefty said, pointing to a reporter on the other side of the room.

Clearly, others contributed to this defeat.

Stewart Cink? He played in one of the earliest singles matches against Rory McIlroy. The American had the lead until he three-putted the 15th. Then he missed a little 6-footer at the 17th to reclaim the lead, and a 15-footer at the end that still would have won the match. If Cink had taken a full point for the Americans, it would have been 14-14 – and the tie goes to the defending champion.

Mickelson? He lost all three of his team matches, giving him more career defeats than any other U.S. Ryder Cup player, before an easy singles win against Peter Hanson.

“If you go up and down the line of the tour players in Europe and the U.S. and asked them if they would like to be the last guy to decide the Ryder Cup, probably less than half would say they would like to be that guy and probably less than 10 percent of them would mean it,” Cink said.

“Hunter Mahan put himself in that position today. He was the man on our team, to put himself in that position. Hunter Mahan performed like a champ out there today. I think it’s awesome. Not many players would do that.”

Steve Stricker won the leadoff match for the Americans, setting the tone for a comeback that came oh-so-close. He, too, said it was unfair to blame Mahan.

“We can all think about a shot here and there that could have turned the match to make up that one point,” Stricker said. “You hate to see Hunter go through what he’s going through because it really shouldn’t come down to that. But, unfortunately, it did.”

Even the guy who beat Mahan felt for him.

“If I was Hunter, I would’ve been devastated,” McDowell said. “Aside from that chip (at the 17th), he played flawless golf.”

Later, Mahan was able to get himself together and add a little perspective to what he’s been through at the last two Ryder Cups.

He was the only American to go unbeaten in 2008, playing all five sessions as a rookie and gaining a new appreciation for an event that he had criticized as nothing more than a money-making machine. His signature moment came in singles, where he banged in a 60-foot birdie putt at the 17th and wound up halving a match with Paul Casey that gave the Americans a huge boost on the final day.

And now, Mahan knows how it felt to be Casey – only much, much worse.

“The Ryder Cup brings stuff out of you that you didn’t know you had, from an emotional sense, from a golf sense,” he said. “It’s a great learning experience. I’ll take a lot from it. I’m disappointed now, but it’s not something I’m going to be disappointed with for long.”

Maybe he can pass on the yin and yang of Ryder Cup to rising young American star Rickie Fowler, whose amazing comeback against Edoardo Molinari brought it all down to the last match. The bushy-haired 21-year-old birdied the last four holes, overcoming a three-shot deficit to earn a half point.

“It’s been an awesome week for me,” Fowler said, sounding his age. “It’s been pretty cool to be on a team with all of these guys.”

Mahan was feeling the same way two years ago. His young teammate would be wise to heed those lessons in a career that undoubtedly will include more Ryder Cup appearances.

“This is great for Rickie, great for his confidence,” said Davis Love III, an assistant captain for the Americans. “He’s got to make sure he learns from it the right way. He needs to look at that picture of Hunter pumping his fist at Valhalla.”

And remember the guy sitting on the dais Monday, struggling to hold back the tears.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.