Matt Kuchar beat Hunter Mahan 2&1 to win WGC Match Play Championship
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: February 25, 2013 1:02am
Matt Kuchar dethroned defending champion Hunter Mahan as he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, beating his fellow American 2&1 in Sunday's final.
In doing so Kuchar, 34, claimed his first victory at a World Golf Championships event and the fifth PGA Tour title of his career.
Having beaten Jason Day handsomely in the semi-finals to reach the championship match, Kuchar defied the windy conditions in Arizona to produce a consistent display in the final that was ultimately too much for Mahan.
The duo halved the opening three holes in par, but the previously unflappable Mahan then rather came unstuck with bogeys at four, five and six to fall three behind.
Having lost that fourth hole, Mahan found himself trailing at the event for the first time since last year's first round clash with Zach Johnson, a total of 169 consecutive holes.
Things got even worse for the Californian as Kuchar made a birdie at the eighth after a fine up-and-down to move four clear as he reached the turn in just 35 strokes.
Mahan gave himself renewed hope as he won the tenth and 11th holes with a par and a birdie to halve the deficit, but Kuchar responded with a birdie of his own at 13 after yet another stunning piece of scrambling around the green to restore the lead to three.
There was still drama to follow as Mahan won the 14th with a fabulous approach to a matter of inches, before Kuchar fired his fired his tee-shot at the par-three 16th into the grandstands behind the green, allowing his opponent to reduce the lead to just one.
Championship match result
(US unless stated)
M Kuchar beat H Mahan 2&1
Play-off match result
J Day (Aus) beat I Poulter (Eng) 1up
But that was as close as Mahan would get, Kuchar sealing victory at the 17th with a brilliant second from a fairway bunker that forced his rival into a concession after he had strayed into the desert with his approach from the same sandtrap.
"I've really got to give Hunter a lot of credit, he got off to a slow start and I got up pretty quickly... but Hunter made a great battle and played some great golf coming in," Kuchar stated afterwards.
In the third and fourth place match, Australia's Day got the better of England's Ian Poulter to record a scrappy 1up victory on the last green.
Poulter looked to be in charge as he raced into a two-hole lead early on, but Day grew into the contest and, having worked his way into a 3up lead, survived a late wobble to get over the line.