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By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
Mahan is becoming a match play star

Hunter Mahan has made it obvious that he belongs on the American teams.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In his ninth season on the PGA Tour, Hunter Mahan is emerging as a match play star. Only once in six matches last weekend at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship did he play the 18th hole.

And that came in his first match.

Mahan needed 19 holes to dispatch Zach Johnson, which turned out to be one of three wins over Americans that he has teamed with in either the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.

The 29-year-old Mahan battled a former Presidents or Ryder Cup performer in five of his six matches overall. In the final, he dispatched world No. 2 and 2010 European Ryder Cupper Rory McIlroy, 2 & 1.

"I didn't realize how difficult it is to win this week because it is six matches and you're playing against the best players in the world," Mahan said on Sunday. "I had to beat Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Mark Wilson, Y.E. Yang, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson - all tough players, all tough match play players. It feels good because you're going against the game's best."

The victory boasted Mahan's record at the event to 10-4.

In the President and Ryder Cups, Mahan has played on the last five American teams and compiled a 9-6-4 record. He competed in every session at three of those five events.

Mahan has had a losing mark in two of the five teams events, but earned at least two points in four of the five.

Throw in his one appearance at the 2007 HSBC World Match Play Championship, Mahan's career match play mark as a professional stands at 21-11-4.

That is a far cry from Tiger Woods, who has won 30 matches in the Presidents and Ryder Cups combined, but Woods also has eight more appearances than Mahan in those two events.

Many will remember Mahan flubbing a chip at the 2010 Ryder Cup. It led to him losing his match to Graeme McDowell, and gave the Europeans the winning point.

Fast forward to the 2011 Presidents Cup, Mahan won four of his five matches. Three of those victories came in convincing fashion, as he clearly rebounded from the disappointment at the Ryder Cup.

"It feels good. Any time you make a team, you want to validate yourself on the team. This is my fifth one, so I feel like I have a good understanding of what it takes to play well in these things and have a good mind-set," Mahan said after putting the first point on the board for the Americans on the final day of last year's Presidents Cup.

Looking at his record, Mahan has made it obvious that he belongs on these American teams, and will deliver multiple points when called upon.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III can pencil Mahan onto his team for Medinah right now, and be comfortable in knowing that Mahan will do his part in helping the Americans reclaim the Cup.

TIGER, HANK DRAMA WON'T STOP ANYTIME SOON

When it was announced last fall that Hank Haney was writing a book about his time as Woods' swing coach, you knew this wasn't going to go over well with Woods.

Tiger has made some statements over the past few months, but wasn't very interested in adding more on Wednesday. He was asked three separate times for his comments on recently released portions of the forthcoming book.

Woods leaned on his previous comments all three times, and failed to relent when pressed. He more or less gave Golfweek writer Alex Miceli a death stare as Miceli pushed for a more detailed response.

The former world No. 1 has to realize the reporters are just doing their jobs, whether he likes it or not. Woods is going to be asked about the book every time more portions are released, and again with the entire tome is put on sale the week of the Masters.

Woods, along with playing this week and next, will likely appear at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. After that, it is Augusta National for The Masters.

Will reporters ask Woods about the book each step of the way? If they are doing their jobs, they will. As Tiger showed on Wednesday, he won't respond to every nook and cranny of the book.

This battle of wills won't conclude until Masters week, at least, and Woods will steadfastly refuse to comment further. He does need to realize the questions have to be asked.

He doesn't need to stare down reporters doing their jobs. It isn't necessarily Tiger's style, but he should just politely say "no comment" and move on.

If he doesn't want to give the book credence, creating uncomfortable situations in his media sessions isn't helping his cause.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Love, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, has to be pleased that the first nine PGA Tour events have been won by Americans. Not all nine of those winners will make his squad, but at least they're making his decision on who will make the team more difficult.

* It's a new season, but not much has changed for the LPGA. Women's world No. 1 Yani Tseng has three top-eight finishes in the first three events, including a win in Thailand, and she already leads the money list by over $75,000.

* For the first time since the 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship, Hank Kuehne is back on the PGA Tour this week. One of the original bombers on tour, Kuehne has been out of action with a bad back. He recently visited the same doctor in Germany that Fred Couples now sees to alleviate his back problems. Hopefully, this is the start of a good comeback for Kuehne.

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