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Kuchar holds off Mahan, wins first WGC
Matt Kuchar defeated defending champion Hunter Mahan 2 and 1 in the Championship Match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., to win his first World Golf Championship event.
It was the first all-American final in five years at the event, and the matchup made it certain that for the eighth straight Tour event, an American would be hoisting the trophy.
Mahan was attempting to become the second player to ever win consecutive Match-Play Championships. Before Sunday’s match, Mahan had not trailed in the tournament for 169 holes in 11 different matches over the last two years.
Florida-native Matt Kuchar, who was wearing ski-gloves to keep his hands warm between shots, was red hot early in the match — he was four-up through the first eight holes. But Mahan began charging with wins on Nos. 10, 11 and 14 before Kuchar halted his momentum with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 306-yard par-4 No. 15.
Kuchar’s tee shot on the par-3 No. 16 left him behind the grandstands to the left of the green, handing the hole to Mahan a couple shots later. His lead was cut to one with two holes remaining.
Both players drove their balls into the fairway bunker on No. 17 just feet apart, but Mahan drew the worse of the two lies in the sand.
Mahan was unable to make clean contact from the lie, and his approach shot squirted short and right into a bush. Kuchar capitalized on his good lie, sticking his approach to 10 feet. The match was conceded when Mahan failed to hole his pitch shot after punching out of the bush.
The win was the fifth of Kuchar’s career, and his first since his breakthrough win at The Players Championship last May. With the victory, Kuchar took home $1.5 million 550 FedEx cup points (as opposed to the normal 500 points in regular Tour events).
Kuchar was a No. 6 seed from the Hogan Bracket and has now moved to No. 8 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
In the consolation, Jason Day bested match-play aficionado Ian Poulter 1 up to claim third place.
The Tour will move next week to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for the Honda Classic, where Rory McIlroy will defend his title.