Ian Poulter beaten 4&3 by Hunter Mahan in semi-finals of WGC Match Play
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: February 24, 2013 9:22pm
Ian Poulter bowed out of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the semi-final stage after falling to a 4&3 defeat against defending champion Hunter Mahan.
The Englishman, bidding to win the title himself for a second time, found his American opponent in hugely consistent form in a contest made all the more difficult by winds of up to 35mph at the Dove Mountain resort in Arizona.
Mahan headed into the encounter not having trailed at the tournament since his first round match last year and maintained that remarkable record as he controlled proceedings.
Having moved ahead with a birdie at the second, Mahan did allow Poulter to get back level when he left an attempted escape in the greenside bunker at four, but then won the fifth with a par and the eighth with a birdie to pull two clear.
Poulter had an unlikely chance to reduce the arrears at the par-five 11th after Mahan made a mess of his third and fourth shots, but saw his eight-foot par-putt slide agonisingly wide as the hole was halved in six.
Mahan - whose short game was razor-sharp throughout - then landed a critical blow at the short 12th, brilliantly chipping in from off the back of the green for birdie to win a hole at which Poulter had looked favourite after finding the putting surface from the tee.
Kuchar on song
The Englishman did manage a birdie at the next following a fine bunker shot, but Mahan would prove his equal there and moved four clear when Poulter pushed a short par-putt wide at the 14th.
Needing to win all four of the remaining holes to stay alive, Poulter saw his hopes extinguished straightaway as Mahan again matched his birdie at 15th to complete an emphatic victory.
(US unless stated)
M Kuchar beat J Day (Aus) 4&3
H Mahan beat I Poulter (Eng) 4&3
Mahan will now face compatriot Matt Kuchar in the final after he also recorded a 4&3 success over an out-of-sorts Jason Day.
Although he got his nose in front early after a Kuchar bogey at the second, Day never really got to grips with the windy conditions and failed to make a single birdie.
The match swung decisively towards the end of the front nine as Kuchar won the sixth, eighth and ninth holes to hit the turn with a comfortable 3up advantage.
Day won the tenth after a concession from his opponent, but a double-bogey from the Australian at 13 saw Kuchar restore his three-hole advantage and the end came on the 15th green when the American tapped home from close range for birdie.