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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Mahan cruises to victory

Published 25/08/2014 | 00:13

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Hunter Mahan sealed the sixth PGA Tour win of his career

Hunter Mahan produced a near flawless final round to clinch a two-shot victory in the opening FedEx Cup play-off at The Barclays in New Jersey.

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Mahan rose to the occasion on the back nine, with five birdies moving him steadily up the leaderboard and he could even afford to bogey the last, his only blemish of an otherwise fantastic display.

A closing six-under 65 saw him finish comfortably ahead of American compatriot Cameron Tringale and Australian duo Stuart Appleby and Jason Day, who was joint overnight leader.

It was Mahan's sixth victory on the PGA Tour, and his first since April 2012, and puts him in an enviable position to claim the 10 million US dollars (£6million) bonus that comes with winning the FedEx Cup.

"This is a FedEx Cup play-off event, this is where all the best players are. You need to peak your game and play some great golf and to do it on a Sunday like I did and hit some great shots and big putts down the end feels great," he said.

"I felt good in the last few weeks. I felt like I turned a corner from myself and refocused myself on doing the right things.

"It feels great to get a 'W'."

With nine players having already qualified for America's Ryder Cup team, Mahan's effort this weekend may go a long way to earning a wildcard spot in Tom Watson's team for the event in Gleneagles next month.

The 32-year-old from California has made two appearances for the United States but missed out on selection two years ago.

However, he made it clear he would welcome a wildcard spot.

"It's the goal of every American and European player to play in the Ryder Cup. It means so much to us on both sides," he added on Sky Sports 4.

"It's such a great competition that everyone loves to play against one another. It brings out the best in everyone. It'd be a huge bonus to be a part of the team."

Mahan started brightly with two birdies in his opening five holes but a run of five successive pars left his chances of glory floundering.

He exploded into life from the 11th, however, with a run of five birdies in seven holes, and his putt on the 17th, 21ft from the pin, brought the crowd to their feet.

A poor tee off shot at his final hole kept them on the edge of their seats and he was lucky to avoid a bunker on his approach, with the ball nestling in the rough just above the sand.

While he was unable to save par, he did hold his nerve to hole a tricky putt.

Day needed an eagle on the last to enforce a play-off but he too found the rough with his tee shot and with that his hopes vanished, settling for joint second after a closing 68.

Fellow Australian Appleby also finished on 12 under for the tournament after matching Mahan's round, with Tringale carding a closing 66.

World number one Rory McIlroy finished in a tie for 22nd after a one-under 70, while England's Lee Westwood was among the 25 players to fail to qualify for the second play-off event at the Deutsche Bank Championship, despite finishing level par for the tournament after a closing 70.

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