Mahan feeling 'empty' after failing in Ryder Cup bid


CARMEL, Ind. – Hunter Mahan was staggered Tuesday with yet another Ryder Cup blow.

This time the punch in the gut came in a phone call.

Two years after breaking down in tears over his pivotal singles loss to Graeme McDowell, Mahan learned he won’t get the chance to redeem himself.

Not this year, anyway.

American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III called Mahan Monday night to tell him he wasn’t among the four captain’s picks that will tee it up against Europe at Medinah in suburban Chicago Sept. 28-30.

“It is difficult not to be a part of it,” Mahan said Tuesday after a practice session at Crooked Stick in preparation for the FedEx Cup’s BMW Championship. “It hurts not to be a part of it, and it feels a little empty right now.”

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At Wales, Mahan was comforted by teammates after breaking down in tears talking about his loss to McDowell during the post-Ryder Cup news conference. Mahan left Celtic Manor with the stinging memory of a flubbed chip aside the 17th green, a mistake that led to his concession in the pivotal match.

Mahan said he was highly motivated to return to the Ryder Cup stage.

“I felt like I wanted to redeem myself somewhat, because you feel somewhat responsible,” Mahan said. “It hurt at the moment. It’s probably the most emotional week you’ll have as a player.”

An automatic qualifier for the team with two weeks left in the points race, Mahan ultimately finished ninth, one spot from qualifying. Phil Mickelson finished eighth.  

Mahan said the disappointment of not making the team is challenging his focus for this week’s BMW Championship.

“It definitely feels empty,” Mahan said. “It feels more empty being at the course. It didn’t feel that bad when Davis told me.”

Mahan used motivation from that Ryder Cup failure to make the American Presidents Cup team last year and to win twice this year. He would like to bounce back from this disappointment with a strong FedEx Cup finish.

“It’s tough because I still have two events to play,” Mahan said. “They don’t feel quite as important as I want them to be right now. I have to work on that this week. That’s my goal.”

Mahan said Love told him he was going with the hot hands. Though Mahan has won twice this year, including the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he has cooled off through the summer. In 14 starts since winning the Shell Houston Open in April, Mahan has one top-10 finish. He did not help himself missing the cut at the PGA Championship a month ago and missing the cut at The Barclays in the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs two weeks ago.

With his captain’s picks, Love chose experience in veterans Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk and hot hands in Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker.

“It was definitely a tough call for me,” Love said.

“It was tough to leave, really, anybody off, because we could have gone very, very deep this year down the points list. The eight players on the team gave me a lot of great input.  It was a tough decision, but I felt like in the end, we rounded out our 12 the best way we knew how.”

Mahan was undefeated (2-0-3), winning 3½ points in the American Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla in 2008. He was 1-2 in Wales in 2010. He was 4-1 in last year’s Presidents Cup.

“Brandt and Dustin just outplayed me at the end of the day,” Mahan said. “I just didn’t play good enough.”

Asked if he believed he was deserving of a captain’s pick, Mahan said: “It’s difficult . . . It seemed like Davis was going for the hot players at the time, and you can’t fault him for that because he picked two guys who are playing so well right now.”