Hunter Mahan returns to the pod to catch up on all things Ryder Cup and gives his take on what went down in Rome. Before the Ryder Cup discussion, Hunter shares his reasons for optimism concerning the professional game and offers some insight into the players' response to the communication from the Tour concerning the framework agreement.
For more Ryder Cup tales from Hunter, check out our interview with him in 2021.
Here's a sneak peek at Soly's conversation with Hunter... (Note: Answers edited for clarity and conciseness...)
Soly: It's culture. You're talking about somebody who just harvests some kind of culture. I refer to this all the time, Shane Ryan does a great series of podcasts for Golf Digest called The Ryder Cup Run. He has an episode about 1983 and 1985. If you wanna talk about the Seve stuff, I don't have the exact quotes, but in 1983 down in Palm Beach, they had the closest Ryder Cup ever in the modern era on US turf.
The team was pretty devastated afterward. And Seve like got them in the locker room - everybody's devastated and crying. He's like, "This is a victory for us. This is the best we've ever done and we will win in 1995."
"When we go to Belfry, we will win." And that's how that night ended, was in celebration. Jose Maria Olazabal said, "I would happily give one major back to play in the Ryder Cup." That traces all the way back to creating a buy-in back in the 80s that has permeated through that team since then. The US has had some success in short bursts, but that has never been harvested or led by anyone.
In the one instance you're referring to, there was no rollover from Azinger into 2010. And that kind of feeling was lost. I can't ask enough people about how to explain being inspired. I've not played in one of these yet. I'm working on it. But I imagine you can't just listen to Metallica and get pumped up and play amazing golf, right? It's not an adrenaline test. It's not like who can get the most jacked up to play. What does inspiration mean? How does it help you play better golf?
Hunter Mahan: Well, I think that Paul did a really good job of a slow bleed, right? It wasn't that week of running through a wall.
Phil sat me down after I got picked. It was at a playoff event or something. And he went through this whole list. He said, "We're gonna win and lemme tell you why." And he went through this whole list. I told the Golf Digest guys how important Phil was. And Phil kept a lot of these teams together in a lot of different ways. He's very inspiring. (But) he's not inspiring by running through a wall or banging tables or any sort of speeches.
He really cares. The Europeans that they care about this event more than when, when, when they say that, when Maria Olazabal says that, it says, I would happily give up whatever to, to play one more to be a part of it - they mean that. You have to get the players to get ownership of the team. You can't just be the leader of them. The thing that Paul did was that he was just so energized and so excited about the opportunity and he brought in the people and the fans.
You don't get that over there. So you have to kind of create it. But the reality is, you've got to put it on the players and find little groups and little pods of them. People hated the pod thing, but the reason why it worked is that 12 people can't bond that week. But you need to give the players ownership and say, this is your team, we're all gonna need to help inspire each other. And it has to be this bleed of continuous motivation throughout that whole year and keep everyone's minds kind of investing in it the whole time, right? It's not a one-week thing.