The Northern Irishman, who defeated Mahan in the final singles match of The 2010 Ryder Cup to earn Europe a 14½-13½ victory, came back from three down with three to play against Gary Woodland in the first round at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Arizona.
And it was another narrow escape in the last 32 as six European Tour Members survived another day. Two down on the 15th tee, McDowell birdied the 15th and 17th to bring the match back to all square, then parred the last to Matsuyama’s bogey.
“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do,” joked the 34 year old. “I feel very fortunate again today.”
Of his pairing with Mahan, he added: “There’s a decent chance he might be out for a shade of revenge tomorrow. It’s been a long time and there’s a lot of water under the bridge since 2010.
“He’s a quality player. He’s got a great record around this golf course and he’s going to be a tough nut to crack. But I certainly feel I’ve had a pretty good workout the last couple of days, and I should be in good shape going intotomorrow.”
Els eventually won the all-European Tour clash with Justin Rose at the 20th hole. The South African was fortunate with a chip on the par five second and the resulting birdie bettered Rose’s par.
Joining Els and McDowell in the last 16 are Sergio Garcia, who beat Bill Haas 3&1, George Coetzee, who saw off Patrick Reed on the 21sthole, Victor Dubuisson, who downed Peter Hanson 3&1, and Louis Oosthuizen, who took out top seed Henrik Stenson 4&3.
Nine European Tour Members were knocked out, including Rory McIlroy, who lost at the 19th hole to Harris English, and Thomas Björn, who lost 5&4 to Jordan Spieth.