USA rally to the aid of distressed Mahan

Hunter Mahan was last night unable to hold back the tears after the United States' heartbreaking Ryder Cup defeat.

Mahan broke down while reflecting on his loss to Graeme McDowell in the final match.

It was the first time since Kiawah Island in 1991 that the Ryder Cup had been decided by the final game and Mahan appeared to choke under the pressure on the 17th hole.

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Two hours after the dramatic denouement, the circumstances of his defeat were still too painful for the 28-year-old to discuss at length.

"I'm just proud to be a part of this team. It's a close team, and..." Mahan managed before breaking down.

His obvious distress prompted his team-mates to rally round him.

Jim Furyk admonished those who feel the Americans lack passion for the event, and said: "We know what it means to us. I'm glad maybe you've finally figured it out."

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Indicating towards Mahan, he added: "And I'm sorry it's in this way."

Stewart Cink said: "If you go up and down the line of the Tour players in the Europe and US and asked them if they would like to be the last guy to decide the Ryder Cup, probably less than half would say they would like to be that guy and probably less than 10 per cent would mean it.

"Hunter Mahan put himself in that position. He was a man on our team, to put himself in that position."

Steve Stricker said: "You hate to see Hunter go through what he's going through, because it really shouldn't come down to that.

"But, unfortunately, it did and we are taking this all as a team as a loss.

"We are trying to help Hunter along here in this situation, but it's a tough deal for him."