x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mahan makes it up to the Americans

Hunter Mahan shocked the golfing world when he suggested that committing himself to representing his country amounted to "slavery".

Hunter Mahan shocked the golfing world when he suggested that committing himself to a week of representing his country in their campaign to recapture the Ryder Cup amounted to "slavery". The young man, who initially shuddered at the thought of a series of "boring dinners" and other tedious social engagements, was changing his tune as he went out with Justin Leonard in search of a third successive victory as a "liberated" rookie.

Mahan, 26, given a wild-card entry by the captain Paul Azinger, looked the best newcomer on view on an opening day of American dominance. His two points with Leonard - a comfortable foursomes victory over Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson followed by an emphatic 4 & 3 conquest of Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez - were enormous bonuses, especially so because the experienced Leonard had never previously tasted victory in eight outings.

Leonard and Mahan's resounding victory over the strong Spanish pairing of Garcia and Jimenez rarely looked in doubt - they were nine under par for the 15 better-ball holes that they played. The two Americans had also refused to panic earlier when Stenson and Casey took the opening two holes. "My cheeks are sore from smiling all day," said Leonard. Mahan was glad that his immature comments about one of the most popular events on the sporting calendar have been forgiven, if not forgotten. wjohnson@thenational.ae