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Mahan Explains 'Empty' Feeling in Not Being Picked for Ryder Cup
Hunter Mahan seemed to be in good shape to become one of Davis Love's four captains picks Tuesday in New York City. But that didn't happen, as Love selected Stricker, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker to complete his 12-man team that also includes Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson, who earned automatic spots.
Mahan - a two-time winner this year - was ranked ninth in the Ryder Cup points list, but that didn't sway Love, who opted for veteran leadership in Furyk and Stricker, sheer power in Dustin Johnson, and a hot golfer in Snedeker.
Mahan was seeking to participate in his third Ryder Cup, one of which he was on the winning side (2008) and the other on the opposite end (2010). Mahan, who needed to win the final two holes in the last singles match against Graeme McDowell for the U.S. to forge a tie and retain the Cup in 2010, is perhaps too famously known for his chunked chip shot on the 17th hole at Celtic Manor in Wales that gave the Europeans the decisive point and the victory, 14½ to 13½.
Mahan was hoping for some redemption by being selected to the 2012 American squad. On Tuesday, during a press conference leading up to this week's BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., the 30-year-old from Orange County, Calif., admitted that his omission from the team is painful.
"I wanted to redeem myself somewhat because you feel somewhat responsible. It hurt at the moment," Mahan said when told of Love's decision. "It feels more empty being at the course. It didn't feel that bad when Davis told me because . . . I think he stated he wanted Stricker and Furyk, so there was really only two spots left, and Brandt and Dustin just outplayed me at the end of the day. I just didn't play good enough. And that's okay. It's okay to get beat by somebody. That's part of golf, and that's part of had game. But like I say, it just feels empty right now."
Here's what else Mahan told reporters on Tuesday, two days before the start of the BMW Championship, the third leg in the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome and thank Hunter Mahan for joining us for a few minutes here at the 2012 BMW Championship. Obviously we're here to take a few questions about Ryder Cup. Davis Love obviously had a very difficult decision, and you're in the midst of a great year, didn't work out ideally, but just some comments on your year, your week and how you're feeling heading in, and then we'll take some questions.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's been a good year. I think I've played pretty well. Obviously haven't been playing as well recently. But still two events left, and there's a lot to be played. You know, the Ryder Cup has been a goal for every American player, and it's disappointing not to be a part of it. I've been part of the last five teams, so it hurts not to be a part of it, and it feels a little empty right now. It's tough because I've still got two events to play, and they don't feel quite as important as I want them to be right now. So I have to work on that this week, and that's my goal this week is to find that kind of motivation right now. That's going to be my biggest key this week.
Q. You had kind of an emotional reaction at the end of the last Ryder Cup, a very emotional reaction at the end of the last Ryder Cup. Talk about how - you get the impression from what you said there at the beginning that it was really important for you to make it this year. But talk a little bit about what it feels like right now, specifically with how things ended the last time.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. You know, I wanted to - I felt like I wanted to redeem myself somewhat because you feel somewhat responsible. It hurt at the moment. It was one of those things where it's an emotional week. It's probably the most emotional week you'll have as a player, just because of the energy the crowd brings, from a positive and negative perspective, but it's - and it's one of those things that seems to last longer inside of you, I feel like, than just one tournament, because the week is so fun. It's so emotional because you're just having such a great time all week, and then there's an outcome, and that's an emotional thing whether you win or lose.
Like I said, to not be a part of it, it feels empty right now, it definitely feels empty. It feels more empty being at the course. It didn't feel that bad when Davis told me because I didn't feel like - the way it kind of ended to me, it was kind of - ended up being a two week trial, kind of a sprint to the finish who was going to play the best because I think he stated he wanted Stricker and Furyk, so there was really only two spots left, and Brandt and Dustin just outplayed me at the end of the day. I just didn't play good enough. And that's okay. It's okay to get beat by somebody. That's part of golf, and that's part of had game. But like I say, it just feels empty right now.
Q. With your overall record, do you feel like you still were good enough to be picked?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's difficult because what a captain looks for in a player and what he - if he's looking for experience - it seemed like Davis was going for the hot players at the time with Dustin and Brandt, and you can't fault him for that because he's picked two guys that are playing so well right now. They really deserve to be picks, and they're going to do a great job. But with Stricker and Furyk, he obviously went more with the experience, and I think that's - obviously they're great players, too, but I think he had all the experience he wanted, and I think he wanted some guys who were playing really, really well at the time.
Q. Can you share anything about the conversation with Davis, what he said to you and what it was like?
HUNTER MAHAN: It was just - he just - I guess he was - I didn't really ask him many questions or anything. I didn't really want to know too much. He just said he was going to go in a different direction. He said he wanted some hot players, and there was no two hotter players in the world than Brandt and Dustin right now. I said, hey, thanks for the look, and appreciate it. He's been great along the way. He hasn't added any pressure to me. He's been trying to keep everyone relaxed. But it wasn't - I didn't really ask any questions or anything, I just was - I got my answer, and that's all I needed.
Q. You've talked a little bit about really noticing it when you got to the course, and you have two events now to try to finish up, two pretty important events. How do you put this behind you? Talk a little bit about that, maybe what you're doing this week to put the disappointment of the Ryder Cup behind you, move on and do the absolute best that you can going through these last two weeks.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah. I'm going to have to bring - you know, it's difficult because I'm not playing the way I want to play, so I've got stuff from the last few weeks I'm bringing with me this week. The good thing is I'm not playing that bad, I'm just not scoring very well. I'm just not scoring the way I want to. It's just been just a tough stretch. Just frustrating.
So I have to bring positive energy. I can't wait for good breaks to happen. I can't wait for the putts to fall. I've got to just - I have to know they're going to fall. I have to know that I'm going to hit good shots, and I have to know that I am going to play well. Just step on the tee excited, and looking forward to it, which I will be. I'll be excited to play because I've only heard great things about this golf course, and it looks like it's in incredible shape and everything. Like I said, this is the FedEx Cup. Everybody wants to win this. I was so close to it last year. It was a really disappointing finish last year. I'm very motivated. I think I kind of want to let this sink in and then kind of move on and get ready for Thursday the best I can.
Q. Can you just speak to how that Ryder Cup singles loss maybe shaped you into the player you are right now or motivated you?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, it's an extremely motivating factor. Like I said, I think that makes me so appreciate the Ryder Cup, the emotions that come with it and how exciting it is and how cool it is. It really is one week. It's not going to - I think you just learn to appreciate how fun it is and how great it is to be with all the players and stuff and how much we - I think it showed all of us how much we cared, and I think it showed the fans and everybody how much we care about it because of how many guys were defending me at the time and how many guys were trying to pump me up and everything.
It's such a special week and a special event, and that's something I'll always remember, just because of how cool it was to be in that situation, to have all the fans there, all the players watching and stuff like that. It's a really cool moment. And I think all the rookies and stuff are going to get there to Chicago and it's going to be really exciting for them because there's nothing like it. There's really no tournament like it. There's really no - anything I've ever seen like it because it's so - it's such a cool experience, unlike anything in golf. It's so much fun. It just sucks to miss out on all the fun.
MODERATOR: Hunter, we appreciate your time, as always, and best of luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.