PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — About the only thing that went wrong for Hunter Mahan at The Barclays was when the trophy broke. All he had to show for perhaps the biggest win of his career was a large wreath of roses.
"Am I supposed to put this on, Kentucky Derby style?" he said.
That would have been fitting. The closing stretch was exactly what he needed Sunday.
Mahan pulled away with three straight birdies, sealing the victory with a 20-foot putt down the slope on the par-5 17th. That allowed him a bogey from the trees on the final hole for a 6-under 65 and a two-shot victory in the opening FedEx Cup playoff event.
He already has two World Golf Championships. Considering the timing, The Barclays felt bigger.
Mahan had gone 48 tournaments and nearly 30 months since his last victory. The only player to never miss a FedEx Cup playoff event, he wanted to keep alive his streak of reaching the Tour Championship every year since this series began in 2007. And he wanted to state his case for a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup team.
This performance will be hard for U.S. captain Tom Watson to ignore.
"To get a win in an event like this, and the timing that it was, it feels unbelievable," Mahan said.
"This game is all about winning," he said. "You can have a great year and if you don't win, it just feels like you missed out on something. So to get a win, and do it in a tournament like this in this kind of fashion with a 65 on Sunday, feels great."
On a day when six players had at least a share of the lead, Mahan found a way to make it look like a comfortable win at Ridgewood.
He rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt to take the outright lead on the par-3 15th, hit wedge to 3 feet for a birdie on the 16th and then rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the par-5 17th. That stretched his lead to three shots going to the final hole when Cameron Tringale bogeyed the 18th.
Mahan tried to make it a little more exciting that he needed it to be. He drove into the trees on the right, pitched back to the fairway, pulled his approach into the rough and kept the outcome in doubt until he made the 8-foot bogey putt.
Jason Day, who shared the 54-hole lead with Jim Furyk, would have needed to hole out from the rough on the 18th to force a playoff and he missed the green. Day closed with a 68 and shared second place with Stuart Appleby (65) and Tringale, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a 66.
Furyk now has failed to win the last eight times he has held at least a share of the lead going into the final round. He was in the mix until missing the fairway on the 14th and taking bogey, and he wound up with a 70 to finish in eighth place, four shots behind.
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