Hunter Mahan was blaming himself for the U.S. loss of the Ryder Cup to Europe. His teammates thought otherwise.
Mahan was defeated by Graeme McDowell in the final singles match today as Europe defeated the U.S. 14½ to 13½ at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales. The 28-year-old was visibly upset afterward.
“Well, I’m just proud to be a part of this team,” a teary Mahan said at a news conference. “It’s a close team and … .” He couldn’t finish.
“We are all proud to be part of this team,” Phil Mickelson, sitting next to Mahan, quickly chimed in as he put his arm around the resident of Colleyville, Texas.
The U.S. had battled back from being three down to tie with only the Mahan-McDowell match left. After McDowell made a birdie to take the 16th hole, Mahan had to win the final two holes for a tie match that would have left the final score 14-14 and allowed the Americans to retain the trophy they won in 2008.
Mahan was forced to take chances. He left his tee shot on the par-3 17th hole short of the green and flubbed his second shot. Needing to hole out to have any chance, his third shot came up short and Mahan conceded McDowell’s 4-foot par putt, ending the match in Europe’s favor.
Steve Stricker said all of the U.S. players were to blame for the close loss, not Mahan.
“We can all look back and we can all think about a shot here or there that could have turned the match to make up that one point, and you hate to see Hunter go through what he’s going through, because it really shouldn’t have come down to that,” he said.
Stewart Cink was more vocal in his support of Mahan, who Lost for just the second time in eight Ryder Cup matches.
“If you go up and down the line of the Tour players in Europe and U.S. and asked them if you 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. It’s a selfish spot in the game of golf, and Hunter Mahan performed like a champ out there today. And I think it’s awesome. Not many players would want to do that.”