US team rallies around Mahan

The United States team has rallied around Hunter Mahan after he broke down during the post Ryder Cup press conference.

The United States team has rallied around Hunter Mahan after he broke down during the post Ryder Cup press conference.

The Californian was unfortunate to come up against Graeme McDowell in the final and decisive singles match, with the Northern Irelander clinching victory for Europe on the 17th green.

The 28-year-old found the intense pressure too much to handle in the end, duffing his chip to the penultimate hole where only a win would have been good enough to take the match down the 18th.

Mahan was unable to make his par and therefore handed a 3&1 victory to McDowell, He later found it hard to reflect on the loss.

“I’m just proud to be a part of this team. It’s a close team, and…” Mahan managed to say before breaking down.

He later added: “I’ve played with Graeme before. He played great today, didn’t miss a shot. He hit a bunch of key putts.

“That birdie on 16, after I got it to one down, was huge. He just beat me today.”

His obvious distress prompted the US’s senior members to come to his defence, notably Stewart Cink, who saw opponent Rory McIlroy clinch a half at the final hole with a four-foot putt.

“If you go up and down the line of the Tour players in the Europe and US 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% would mean it,” said the former Open champion.

“Hunter Mahan put himself in that position today. He was a man on our team, to put himself in that position.

“Hunter Mahan performed like a champ out there today, all right, and I think it’s awesome.”

Steve Stricker, who inspired the American fightback by beating Lee Westwood 2&1 in the opening singles game, said the team would be there for Mahan.

“We can all look back and we can 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 come down to that,” he said.

“But, unfortunately, it did and we are taking this all as a team as a loss.

“We are trying to help Hunter along here in this situation, but it’s a tough deal for him.”

Phil Mickelson went a step further and suggested he should take a portion of the blame for underperforming on the first three days.

“When I didn’t win any of my first three points, I felt more disappointment than I’ve ever felt, because this is an opportunity for us to win here in Europe,” he said.

“And so the fact that we came so close, and I let some of these opportunities to gain points for our team slide, it does hurt more than some of our past losses.”