October 09, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Hunter Mahan has played in the 2008, 2010 and 2014 Ryder Cups. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
NAPA, Calif. -- Hunter Mahan said Thursday that he believes the 2014 edition will be "the most important Ryder Cup for America" because of the changes that could likely follow the team's third consecutive loss.
"It will signal change that needs to happen," Mahan said. "I think it's going to happen. It's unfortunate, some of the things that have come out, but in the end I think they will be good things. How Europe does their business and how we do our business is very different, and we need to get more along their path. Their success and their leadership is just fantastic. You can tell those guys play hard for their captain and their captain is very, very well prepared."
Europe's captain, Paul McGinley, was widely praised for his handling of his team. He was voted European Tour Golfer of the Month despite not hitting a shot in September. United States captain Tom Watson was criticized for how he interacted with his team.
Mahan believes captains should serve as vice captains before taking the helm. McGinley was a vice captain twice before leading this year's team. Mahan wasn't on the 2012 Ryder Cup team, but has heard positive reviews of Davis Love III's captaincy. The United States built a 10-6 lead at the 2012 Ryder Cup before losing. Love III served as a vice captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup.
"I think it's very difficult for a captain to be in charge of so many guys and have so much responsibility without having done it before," Mahan said. Steve Stricker told Mahan that he learned an "unbelievable" amount from being a vice captain on this year's team, Mahan said.
"It's like a football coach. You can't treat everyone the same. It just won't work," Mahan said. "You really learn a lot that first time. It doesn't need to be super-secret, who the next captain is going to be. They should give him some experience. They should let him feel it, let him see it from a different side, so that he's prepared next time and knows what works and what doesn't work."
Mahan played with 2014 Ryder Cup teammates Jimmy Walker and Matt Kuchar in the Frys.com Open's first round. Mahan fired 70, while Walker, the defending Frys.com Open champion, shot 75 and Kuchar fired 71.
Kuchar said he didn't watch television or read the Internet during the week after the Ryder Cup, so he was unaware of the various reports that detailed the discord within the U.S. team. He was grateful to get back in action to take his mind off the loss. This one didn't hurt as the 2012 loss, though.
"I found it nice after the 2012 Ryder Cup to get back out and play again, just to be able to play and move on," Kuchar said. "That one stung, having the lead and to lose one so close. This Ryder Cup wasn't very close, so it wasn't one that stung quite as bad as 2012 did."