124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Hunter Mahan on the one guy the U.S. Ryder Cup team was missing at Marco Simone


Montana Pritchard/PGA of America

In a Ryder Cup career that spanned six years and featured one giant win and two painful losses, Hunter Mahan has experienced all the good, bad and ugly that the event has to offer. That resume makes him extremely qualified to speak on two things: 1. What went wrong in Rome this past week, and 2. How to fix it going forward.

Mahan, now 41, made his debut in the event back in 2008, when Paul Azinger's American squad dominated Europe at Valhalla for a 16.5 to 11.5 victory. It was arguably the most cohesive American unit in the event's history, featuring young stars like he and Anthony Kim, wily veterans like Phil Mickelson and Stewart Cink, and all-around vibes guys like Kenny Perry and Boo Weekley. Six years later, he played for his final U.S. team at Gleneagles, a U.S. team that got trounced by that same score of 16.5 to 11.5 and wound up in a verbal war with each other in the losing press conference. 

In other words, he's seen it all, and he enjoyed it all so much that he called it "the best sporting event in the world" on this week's episode of The Loop podcast. He was on hand this past week calling all the action on the world feed at Marco Simone, and he couldn't help but notice one of the things the U.S. was clearly lacking - a guy who'd slam his fist on the table and tell everybody to wake the hell up. 

"It might be the most important thing," Mahan said. "You don't even need the captain to do it. But someone on the assistant captain side to bang on the table on the morning of and be like 'are you bleeping ready to go?'" 

"You saw it on the U.S. players faces. Like, they were all just kind of there," he added. "They weren't matching the energy of the fans. It was like 'let's just go out there and play our game and play smart' and it's like, no dude, this is not a normal event. We have to start treating it like it's not normal and you got to start banging on tables and you've got to get pumped up and you've got to be excited."

Mahan alluded to the fact that Phil Mickelson may very well have been that guy, but that apparently was not an option (at least this year). 

In our full discussion, the six-time PGA Tour winner also talks about the bright future for the European team, who needs to step up on the U.S. side going forward, and the reason he's finally starting to enjoy hitting golf shots again. Plus, myself, Stephen Hennessey and Alex Myers also break down #HatGate and debate whether or not players should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup. Please, have a listen below, and like and subscribe to The Loop wherever you get your podcasts.