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Mahan rolls as Woods hits nadir

Hunter Mahan makes a series of clutch pars down the stretch for a two-shot win and his second victory this year.

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Hunter Mahan makes a series of clutch pars down the stretch for a two-shot win and his second victory this year.

AKRON, Ohio — Hunter Mahan is doing things he never imagined possible, on and off the golf course.

He thought it was "crazy talk" when friends told him he would know immediately when he fell in love, until he met former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kandi Harris in December and proposed to her in June.

How about beating Tiger Woods by 30 shots at Firestone?

"I never, ever thought that would be possible," Mahan said Sunday, stifling a laugh. "It never crossed my mind. It's definitely different."

About six hours after Woods finished the worst tournament of his career, Mahan looked better than ever in the Bridgestone Invitational. He ran off five birdies on the front nine to make up a four-shot deficit, delivered three clutch pars down the stretch to protect his lead and closed with 6-under 64 for a two-shot victory over Ryan Palmer.

Mahan earned $1.4 million to lock up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, one of his primary goals this year.

He won his first World Golf Championship title and moved to No. 12 in the world ranking. And he won for the second time this year to become the fifth player with multiple victories on the PGA Tour.

"The last couple of weeks, the game has been good," said Mahan, who won the Phoenix Open in February. "This weekend, I … just kind of let everything go and just had some fun."

It was anything but that for Woods.

He had won seven times in his past nine starts at Firestone. He had not shot over par since 2006. But in a week that showed just how lost he is, Woods shot 77 Sunday to finish at 18-over 298. It was his highest score on the tour as a pro or an amateur. He tied for 78th in the 80-man field, his worst finish ever.

He wasn't even sure if he was Ryder Cup worthy. "No one would help the team if they're shooting 18-over par," Woods said.

Phil Mickelson looked just as bad. With his best chance ever to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world — Mickelson was tied for 10th and needed to finish alone in fourth — the Masters champion sprayed shots all over Firestone on his way to 8-over 78.

It was the first time since the 1998 British Open that Woods and Mickelson both shot 77 or higher in the same round.

PGa: Bill Lunde rallied with a 6-under 66 to finish at 17-under 271, holding off J.J. Henry by one stroke to win the Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, N.Y. Alex Cejka tied for third at 15 under after leading after the second and third rounds.

CHAMPIONS: David Frost shot 11-under 61 for a record 25-under 191 at the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. Mark Calcavecchia, tied with Frost after 36 holes, shot 4-under 68 and finished five back.

GARCIA TO REST: Sergio Garcia said he plans to take a two-month break after the PGA Championship this week, not returning until the end of October at the Castellon Masters on his home course in Spain.

Ryder Cup: Europe captain Colin Montgomerie is considering taking Bernhard Langer as a wild-card selection, even though the 53-year-old German is on the Champions Tour. Langer played the last of his 10 Ryder Cups in 2002. Langer's reaction? "If he wants me on the team, I would definitely consider it."

Mahan rolls as Woods hits nadir 08/08/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 8, 2010 9:23pm]
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