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Pressure got to Mahan at Ryder Cup

It was a splendid setting. The 17th hole on the greener than green Celtic Manor 2010 Course in Wales, a par three, surrounded by tens of thousands of people and viewed by millions on TV.

The Ryder cup hanging in the balance. All of the other matches finished. If Hunter Mahan could somehow win the last two holes, the Americans would keep the cup. If Graeme McDowell could manage to halve the hole, the Europeans would win.

A wonderful moment in golf in a magnificent setting at the end of a memorable Ryder Cup full of excitement. A chance for glory to relish for a lifetime.

But to Hunter Mahan, it must have been a nightmare. He couldn't handle it. His mind spun out and his golf game betrayed him. With his ball sitting on a tee and the exact yardage in his mind, he hit a wimpy shot short of the green. Then, with still a bit of hope left, he hit behind the ball - chili-dipped it, as they say - feebly poking the chip shot far short of the hole and wound up losing the hole and the match.

He probably wasn't going to win that match anyway, two down with two to play, but couldn't the nerves relent enough to let him lose gracefully, maybe make a par and let it go at that? Did the golf gods have to pull his pants down in front of millions?

At times like that, it's true, golf is the cruelest of games.

The Ryder Cup is all about pressure which is why it's so intriguing. McDowell said he was so nervous, his last round in winning the US Open earlier this year felt like nine holes back home with his dad compared to this.

Ricky Fowler, pro for one year, still winless on the PGA Tour, a rookie on the Cup team, a human being, birdied the last four holes to salvage a halve in his match. Mahan, a three-time winner on the Tour, a human being, bowed under the weight.

Mahan has his own line of dark glasses. They'll come in handy for awhile but he'll get over it. It's painful but it heals.

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