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Mahan Wins Match Play Title
Hunter Mahan continued his outstanding play at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, denying Rory McIlroy a chance to replace Luke Donald as the No. 1-ranked player in the world by beating the young Northern Irishman 2 and 1 in the Championship Match at Ritz-Carlton GC, Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
Before besting the 22-year-old Ulsterman Sunday afternoon, Mahan beat Zach Johnson, former PGA champion Y.E. Yang, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and, in Sunday morning's semifinal, fellow American Mark Wilson by a 2-and-1 margin.
During the five days of the tournament Mahan played 96 holes and carded 35 birdies. "I felt great with my game coming in," Mahan said at greenside following his win over McIlroy.
After going all-square through the first five holes in the Championship Match, Mahan won three straight holes - 6-8, then after both got pars on No. 9, Mahan won the 10th with a birdie. He lost a hole on the par-5 11th after McIlroy chipped in for eagle from in front of the green.
The next two holes were halved, and McIlroy went to 2-down with a birdie on the par-4 14th. Both birdied the par-4 15th, and each got pars on the next two holes to give Mahan the match.
"I got hot in the middle of the round. He's the best player in the world right now," the 29-year-old Mahan said during the awards presentation. "I knew he'd made a charge. He did and I held on."
In addition to the Walter Hagen trophy, Mahan earned 550 FedEx Cup points and $1.4 million. He's also the eighth straight American winner on the PGA Tour since the beginning of the 2012 season.
"It wasn't the best of starts," McIlroy said in reference to the beginning of his match with Mahan. "(Hole Nos.) 6, 7, 8 was the turning point. Hunter won three holes in a row there. I was trying to claw my way back, but I left myself with too much work to do."
McIlroy admitted later that he might have played his best golf in the morning, when he beat England's Lee Westwood 3 and 1 to earn a spot in the finale. "I knew (rebounding quickly from the Westwood match) might be the toughest thing for me.
"I knew that if I got through (the semifinal match), I had to get myself up for the final. That's not an excuse."
The 2011 U.S. Open champion then tipped his cap to Mahan, now a four-time PGA Tour winner. "He was very solid throughout the day and is a deserving winner," said McIlroy.
Mahan, who likely will ascend to the No. 9 spot in the World Golf Ranking when it's released Monday, becomes the first American to win the Match Play Championship since Tiger Woods in 2008. With his victory in the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Mahan is also the sixth player to win multiple WGC titles, joining Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Darren Clarke.
In the consolation match, Wilson beat Westwood 1-up. After Wilson two-putted for par on the 18th hole, Westwood just missed his birdie try that would have extended their match to an extra hole.
For complete scoring details, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/leaderboards/current/r470/.