Hunter Mahan locked up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with his victory at the Bridgestone Invitational, where Tiger Woods finished 30 strokes back in his worst showing as a professional.
Mahan, 28, shot a 6-under-par 64 during the final round of the World Golf Championships event yesterday at Firestone Country Club’s South Course in Akron, Ohio, to finish at 12-under overall, two strokes better than Ryan Palmer.
Mahan received $1.4 million for his third career win on the U.S. PGA Tour and second this season.
“To win any time on the PGA Tour is great, but an event like this, 80 of the best players in the world, it’s something special,” Mahan said during a news conference. “Every time we come here it’s just like a major.”
Mahan’s victory came four days before the start of the season’s final major championship -- the U.S. PGA Championship from Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.
The win also guarantees Mahan a spot on the U.S. team that will face Europe in the biennial Ryder Cup, which will be held Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales. The U.S. won the last competition in 2008.
“I felt my game was good enough to make it on my own and that was a goal of mine this year,” Mahan said.
Woods tied for next-to-last in the 80-man field at 18-over par, his worst score over 72 holes as a professional. His previous lowest finish in a tournament in which he played four rounds was a tie for 60th place in the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, the first PGA Tour event he played as a professional.
Woods fell to 10th in the standings for the Ryder Cup team and said his form doesn’t warrant a spot on the U.S. squad. The top eight players in the standings after the PGA Championship earn automatic berths, while U.S. captain Corey Pavin will get to add four other players.
“I wouldn’t help the team if I’m playing like this,” Woods said after failing to shoot par or better in any round at Firestone, where he previously won seven times.
Woods remains the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer and the 14-time major winner is the 12-1 second-favorite at the PGA Championship behind 10-1 shot Phil Mickelson, according to the Las Vegas Hilton Race & Sports Book.
Although Woods has played eight PGA Tour events this season without a win, Mahan said Woods deserves to be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“He’s going through a lot right now and I think you don’t realize how much outside of golf stuff affects golf,” Mahan said of Woods, who hasn’t won a tournament since his admission of marital infidelity. “When he gets back in a routine and he kind of finds himself and finds his situation, he’ll be fine. But I think he needs the Ryder Cup right now. I think he wants to be in that setting.”
Editor: Dex McLuskey.