Notebook: McDowell and Mahan, linked by Ryder Cup, go way back

Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan
Getty Images
Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan are linked by the final match of the 2010 Ryder Cup, but their rivalry goes back to their college days almost a decade earlier.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | 5:12 p.m.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan have been paired twice in the last month – the third round of this year's Accenture Match Play Championship, and the third round at Bay Hill. They mainly are linked by the final match of the 2010 Ryder Cup, which McDowell won to clinch victory for Europe.
 
But they go even farther back than that.
 
McDowell was asked Saturday if he had even blown a big lead, and he could only think of the 2002 NCAA Championship on the Scarlet Course at Ohio State. He won six tournaments his last year at Alabama-Birmingham. Playing only for the individual medal, he had a one-shot lead over Mahan, the best from Oklahoma State.
 
''I threw up all over myself in the last round,'' McDowell said. ''We were individuals because we played so well, but our team was well back. That was the first time I played with him. We're playing together a bit more lately. He's a great player. I enjoy playing with him. I love the way he hits it.''
 
McDowell closed with a 74 that day in Ohio. Mahan had a 72. Both were overtaken by Troy Matteson, who won the NCAA title with a 67.
 
Mahan's memory wasn't as clear.
 
''I don't remember much about that that,'' Mahan said. ''But I knew about Graeme because he was winning all these tournaments. And it's kind of unusual to get some Irish kid at Alabama-Birmingham.''
 
FURYK FOUNDATION: Jim Furyk never minded showing up for a charity event, especially if another athlete asked him.
 
Furyk said he had a harder time asking others to help him. Nevertheless, he assembled quite a crew last weekend for the fourth ''Furyk & Friends Concert and Celebrity Golf Classic at Sawgrass Country Club.
 
He raised $450,000 at last count for the Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation, which serves needy children and families in the Jacksonville area. The event now has raised more than $1.2 million since it began in 2011.
 
Among those who participated were Reggie Jackson, Lynn Swann and Jerome Bettis, along with golfers Davis Love III, Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard.
 
THE APPLE DIDN'T FALL FAR: Few players are as confident as Ian Poulter. Geoff Ogilvy once told about playing with Poulter for the first time with Justin Rose and Rose's brother, right after Poulter had earned his European Tour card. 
 
He said Poulter talked about how he would win in Europe as a rookie and eventually move onto the PGA Tour and all the big events. ''He couldn't even beat Justin's brother that day,'' Ogilvy said.
 
Sure enough, Poulter won the Italian Open as a rookie. He reached as high as No. 5 in the world and has become Europe's best performer in the Ryder Cup.
 
Sunday at Bay Hill, he was on the putting green as his 9-year-old son, Luke, watched him from the side. Someone turned to Poulter's son and playfully said, ''Luke, how long until you're out here?'' The boy didn't blink.
 
''Two years,'' he said.
 
Poulter heard the conversation and burst into laughter, telling his son, ''Luke, don't you change.''
 
DIVOTS: Nick Watney returns to work next week in the Shell Houston Open, his first tournament as a father. His wife, Amber, gave birth to their first child the day after the Cadillac Championship. They named their daughter Harper. ... Karrie Webb has won 11 times on the LPGA Tour (including a major) since her 2005 induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 39-year-old Australian won in Phoenix for her 41st career LPGA title on Sunday. ''I probably celebrate those wins a lot more than I used to,'' she said. ... Poppy Hills is open again. The course that once was part of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am reopened last week after an overhaul by original architect Robert Trent Jones II. Even though Poppy has been replaced by Monterey Peninsula at the AT&T, it will be part of the rotation for the First Tee Open on the Champions Tour.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Major champions played in the final group in three of the four PGA Tour events on the Florida Swing - Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic, Jason Dufner at Doral and Adam Scott at Bay Hill. None went on to win.
 
FINAL WORD: ''Arnold Palmer was on 16 and he gave me the thumbs-up. It's kind of hard to hit a shot when you're in contention and he's looking at you.'' – Erik Compton, who tied for fifth in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.