WGC Accenture Match Play: Hunter Mahan Bests Rory McIlroy for the Win
Hunter Mahan defeated Rory McIlroy two-and-one to win the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlron Golf Club in Dove Mountain, Arizona.
In the consolation match, Mark Wilson defeated Lee Westwood two-and-one to take third place.
Mahan got the final match after beating Mark Wilson two-and-one in the semifinals, and McIlroy defeated Lee Westwood three-and-one.
Many believed that the McIlroy-Westwood semifinal would determine the champion, and the possible new No. 1 rank in the world, but Mahan had other plans.
In reality, we can say that Mahan didn't blow McIlroy off the course, and rather it was McIlroy's unraveling that led to Mahan's win.
But that was McIlroy's demise. Mahan did what he had to do to win the match, and, in championship situations you can either go for it or make just enough to win it.
Mahan did the latter. He made the best of his opponent's miscues and got the win.
Neither Mahan nor McIlroy were at their best in the front-nine, but it was here that Mahan took control of the match.
After being all-squared through five holes, on the sixth hole Mahan put the pressure off the tee on McIlroy after his drive landed 20 inches from the cup. McIlroy’s drive went left and long, and he conceded Mahan’s birdie.
McIlroy needed the chip-shot to fall for the birdie and to halve the hole, but it just didn’t go down giving Mahan the lead one-up through six.
Mahan went on to win the seventh and eight holes to go three-up.
On the 10th hole, Mahan nearly holed his approach shot. The ball rolled over the right edge of the hole and stopping to within just a couple of feet from the hole.
McIlroy answered with a great approach that landed pin high about 11 feet from the hole. Unfortunately for him he couldn't make the birdie-putt, and Mahan went four-up through 10 holes.
But we were on the back-nine, and here is where McIlroy had been making his best strides throughout the tournament.
McIlroy stopped Mahan's momentum after chipping in for the eagle to win the 11th hole. That cut Mahan's lead to three-up through 11 holes.
You could see a change in McIlroy's demeanor now as the pressure started to build up.
Mahan was in trouble on the 13th hole, but was able to make a great up-and-down from the bunker and halve the hole.
McIlroy went back on the 14th hole and made a birdie to win the hole and get Mahan to be two-up through 14 holes. The momentum was clearly shifting towards McIlroy.
But the key hole may have been the 15th hole.
Mahan was short of the green and 45 feet from the hole. He chose to putt for his eagle try, and the ball stopped just a foot from the hole. McIlroy conceded the birdie and went for his own eagle-putt.
His putt from 30 feet went four feet from the hole, but he was able to sink the birdie putt to halve the hole.
This was a momentum stopper for McIlroy, who could not win another hole and lost when his birdie try on the 17th hole was just a couple of feet short.
It was a great try for McIlroy, who may have spent too much on his comeback win over Westwood earlier in the morning.
But you cannot take away from Mahan's accomplishment.
Mahan played the best from start to finish and was the deserving winner of the tournament. He made 35 birdies, won 37 holes and lost only 17 to some of the best players in the world this week.
With his win, Mahan claims his fourth PGA win and his second World Golf Championships title, having won the Bridgestone Invitational in 2010.
This could very well serve as a springboard for Mahan this year, just like it did for Donald last year. He was very close to winning the FedEx Cup last year as it took a miracle shot from Bill Haas to defeat him.
It will be interesting to see him at the majors as his confidence keeps certainly growing.
Now we are off to the Bear Trap at the Honda Classic next week.
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