Paramus, N.J. — 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 than 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.
Mahan posed with the crystal trophy with his wife and 1-year-old daughter who flew in to surprise him. He wanted one more picture with David Finn, his biggest fan and a popular figure in these parts. Finn is in a wheelchair with a disorder affecting his limbs and leaving him unable to speak.
Mahan got up to leave, picked up the trophy by its top and the bottom mysteriously broke off.
That can be replaced. The victory was one Mahan won’t soon forget.
“There’s really never a bad time to play good golf,” he said. “And this is a really, really good time to play good golf.”
Mahan finished at 14-under 270 and earned $1.44 million. He moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings, assured of being among the top five players at East Lake with the best shot at capturing the $10 million bonus.
British Open and PGA champion Rory McIlroy, going after his fourth straight victory, closed with a 70 and tied for 22nd.
Brian Stuard (Grosse Ile) missed the secondary cut at 3-over 216 but cashed for $15,120.
Somebody wins LPGA
So Yeon Ryu won the Canadian Women’s Open at London Hunt, breaking the tournament record at 23-under 265.
The 24-year-old Ryu closed with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over fellow South Korean player Na Yeon Choi.
Ryu took a six-shot advantage to the back nine, but that dropped to a single stroke when she bogeyed the par-4 15th and Choi made a birdie.
Ryu rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 16th and matched Choi with pars on the final two holes. Choi finished with a 67.
Inbee Park completed a South Korean sweep of the first three spots, shooting a 68 (18 under).
Dunlap takes Champions
Scott Dunlap won the Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, Washington, his first on the Champions Tour, when he made a short birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff against Mark Brooks.
Dunlap set up his winning putt on the par-5 18th hole with an outstanding approach to the right of the pin that bounced past the hole, and then drew back downhill to within four feet. He missed his eagle try but made his next putt for his first Champions Tour victory.
Brooks, who put himself in jeopardy by landing in a bunker on his drive, just missed a 30-foot putt on his fourth shot.
It was the fifth playoff in the 10-year history of the tournament at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
Jamie Donaldson shot a 4-under 68 to win the Czech Masters and secure a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
He birdied six holes and dropped two shots for a 14-under 274 total in windy conditions at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague for his third European Tour victory.
Bradley Dredge, who led after three rounds, was two strokes back for the first 1-2 Welsh finish on the European Tour.