October 4th, 2010
09:08 PM ET

The two sides of the Ryder Cup coin

Hunter Mahan fights back the tears after the U.S. team lose on a dramatic final day against Europe.
Hunter Mahan fights back the tears after the U.S. team lose on a dramatic final day against Europe.

Celtic Manor, Wales (CNN) A week that started with everyone sheltering from the pouring rain, ended with a European team being showered with champagne.

This was one of the tightest ever Ryder Cups and the nail-biting drama re-affirmed the event as one of the best competitions in team sport.

But in sport every story has two sides, for every champion there is a defeated opponent, for every figure who grabs glory there is another who must deal with despair - and very often the margins between the embrace of victory and the cold, company of failure is slim.

And so it was that while the European team were posing for their winning photos, the Americans were sitting before the press, trying to put a brave face on what had been a crushing loss.

It was all too much for Hunter Mahan. America's twelfth man, who lost the final match against Graeme McDowell. The 28-year-old was in pieces. Away from the glare of the public galleries but in front of the world's press he was too choked to speak.

As tears ran down his cheeks, Phil Mickelson smoothly took the microphone and spoke on his behalf. Zach Johnson put his arm around Mahan and Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink rallied to support their devastated teammate.

Cink put Mahan's suffering into context when he said that U.S. players often discuss what role they would like to play in the Ryder Cup. He said only 50 per cent would want to play last in the singles but only 10 per cent would really mean it.

Mahan, who was brilliant as a Ryder Cup rookie two years ago, had bravely played in the anchor position and felt as though he'd let the whole side down.

He'd been under immense pressure. His opponent McDowell later admitted he was so nervous that he cold barely hold his club.

Twice more Mahan was asked a question and on both occasions he struggled. The last time, he couldn't speak at all. Those who had turned up to take pictures at a press conference felt like they were taking pictures at a funeral.

This is the side of sport not often see. The focus is always on the victors, the trophy and the champagne. The winners can celebrate, the losers can please themselves.

The general feeling has always been that American golfers don't care about the Ryder Cup. Hunter Mahan and all his teammates dispelled that myth at Celtic Manor.

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. paul march

    Hunter,

    Hold your head high. Life is not about failure but about redemption. You are too young and too good. Here's hoping a major is in your future. You have more fans now than before the ryder cup.

    October 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  2. Frank Ruben

    Cry baby.

    October 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  3. Ron Malin

    Hunter,

    You were in the arena and did your best. You did not let your team or your country down; you showed courage, you displayed emotion and you made a lot of fans.

    Frank Ruben, you're a jerk and probably a 20 handicap.

    October 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  4. Art Marcyniuk

    Hunter: Take a deep breath and relax. You did a great job and we can only imagine the pressure felt. YOU'LL be back and the hero next time. We were all pulling for ;you and will continue to do so. Keep Smiling!

    October 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  5. john mcnulty

    usa got there arses kicked
    get over it

    October 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  6. Babar Saleem

    After years of arrogance ( i.e: Pavin, Lehman & co at Kiawah Island, the cruel abuse directed at of Montgomery at another event) developed after habitual victories, the Europeans have started to make the seemingly invincible Americans now seem more human.

    I hope that this defeat is remembered the next time America win a Ryder Cup, and they are big enough to enjoy their victory and remember the vanquished as they wish ro be remembered this time.

    All credit to them. They put up an amazing fightback.

    Well done Europe, you did us proud with your behaviour ( lesson to the U.S.A ) as well as the Golf

    October 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  7. Nate

    i don't understand. why is this grown man crying about a golf game? he still seems to have his arms and legs, and he's probably a millionaire. did somebody get killed by his golf ball or something?

    October 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  8. GMG

    Isn't that McDowell guy the US Open champion. Hang in there Hunter, Tom Watson did the same thing pretty much. Happens to the best of them. Just ask Tiger!
    Putt next time.
    Those damn wedges will get you every time!
    Peace!

    October 5, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  9. tommy fernandez

    what a wimp

    October 5, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  10. BJ

    Sportstmen crying has become such a common occurrence that its has really lost its meaning.

    When I was a young man, it would have been frowned upon and rightly so. It seems that men cry more tnow han their apparently stronger female counterparts.

    With ongoing conflicts and people starving to death around the world, how can you cry about losing what is after all, only a game? These men, because of their talents, are wealthy in their own right and are insulated from many everyday problems that others less fortunate are not.

    Let's put things into perspective. Life is built on infinitely bigger issues than the Ryder Cup. Yes it's exciting, nail biting even, but in the end it is only a game.

    October 6, 2010 at 1:32 am | Reply
  11. Rasmus

    Fantastic match for both the US and EU sides.

    Being EU ofc its nice to win it, especially since it was almost scripted to be, when its Mr.RC Monty at the helm on home turf.

    That said it was a lot close calls and Hunter breaking down just shows that you could screw the millions and the trophy wife for what really matters, the competition. This is the biggest thing in golf for me, because of the immense excitement of the team thing, the one time in golf, where there are no money prizes just honour and fierce competition.

    Hunter is mostly struck by the fact that he didnt let Graeme WIN the match, he LOST it to Graeme on the 17th. That letdown, meant that ultimately Fowlers epic comeback and Cink eternal bouncebacks had come to nada, ziltch, except for the fantastic entertainment value and lore for future Ryder Cups. He isnt use to 35.000 fans suddenly going "noooo!", and with only him to blame.

    Find me a football player that doesnt shed a tear if he misses a 1on1 tackle in the SB for an otherside TD and then his team loses by 3. The difference is that that guy wont be interviewet as much and wont be in the spotlight nearly as much as Hunter was.

    You Usanians can be proud of your team, well done, hope you beat us next time with the same margin in a back and forth match :)

    October 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Reply

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