MARANA, Arizona—Matt Kuchar finally put Hunter Mahan in a hole and then answered every challenge Sunday to win the Match Play Championship.
Mahan had gone 169 holes over 11 matches without trailing in this tournament until Kuchar won the fourth hole of their championship match with a par, and Mahan never caught up. Kuchar took advantage of a series of miscues to build a 4-up lead at the turn, and then held off a noble challenge by the defending champion.
There was never a dull moment on the back nine. Only two holes were halved, and those were with birdies.
But for all the great shots, the match ended when Mahan went from a tough lie in the bunker to a bush in the desert, and it took him four shots to reach the 17th green. Kuchar wound up winning, 2 and 1, when Mahan removed the stocking cap he used to fight the cold desert air and conceded Kuchar a short birdie putt.
It was the first World Golf Championship title for Kuchar, and it follows a year in which he won The Players Championship. Kuchar became the second player in the past three years to win a Match Play Championship without ever playing the 18th hole.
“It seems like each hole there’s so much momentum riding and so much pressure on every hole,” Kuchar said. “To come out on top after six matches of playing the top 64 guys in the world, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Mahan was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners, and he gave it a good shot despite the big deficit halfway through the match.
“Just had a bad stretch against Matt on the front nine there that put me just a little bit too far behind,” Mahan said.
Kuchar’s record in this event improved to 15-3, the highest winning percentage of anyone who has played at least 10 matches. He has reached the quarterfinals each of the last three years, and this time went all the way. He played 96 holes and only trailed after four holes all week. AP