MARANA, Ariz. -- Hunter Mahan is one match away from a successful title defense after beating the 2010 champion, Ian Poulter, in the semifinals.
Mahan has now won his last 11 matches -- and he hasn't trailed since the sixth hole of his 2012 opener, a span of 166 holes. He is looking to become the first player to successfully defend his title since Tiger Woods in 2004 and '04.
In Poulter on Sunday, Mahan was facing one of the game's virtuoso match players but he never let the Englishman get the edge in the blustery conditions.
Mahan won the second hole with a 4-footer for birdie but the match went back to even after the American made bogey at No. 4. Poulter returned the favor at the next hole, though, and Mahan never trailed again.
Mahan got up and down for birdie at the par-5 eighth to make the turn 2 up. He chipped in for birdie at the 12th to go 3 up and won the 14th with a par to pad his lead. When the two halved the driveable 15th with birdies, the match was done.
"I'll tell you what, it's easy to get up for Ian because he's so good in match play," Mahan said. "He's such a competitor. He's never going to be out of a hole. He's always going to find a way. Today I played really well, got up and down from a lot of tough spots, and my short game definitely carried me today."
Mahan said the winds that were gusting to 30 mph made the match extremely challenging. "On a golf course like this where kind of accuracy is premium, and the wind the way it's blowing, it's difficult out there," he said.
Poulter, who has a 22-10 record at the Accenture Match Play Championship, said he was "personally disappointed.
"I think I would like the outcome to have been slightly different, but Hunter played very solid today," Poulter said. "He chipped it unbelievably well when he had to, and I think there was a key turn around 11 or 12. I had a putt there to win the hole on 11 from about eight feet and I missed it, and then he hit the wrong club on 12, gone flying through the back of the green. I put it in position on the back of the green, he chipped in.
"Huge turnaround there. I could have changed that match around at that point there. And from that point there was no letup. ... I think it was tricky this afternoon with the wind, and it was very tricky to go at some of those pins. It made it difficult."
SCORECARD STATS: Mahan made five birdies and two bogeys. Poulter made three bogeys and two birdies, both of which came in his last three hole.
HOLES WON: Mahan won five holes. Poulter won one.
NEXT OPPONENT: Mahan plays Matt Kuchar, who beat Jason Day 4 and 3 in the other semifinal. The championship match will begin at 2:15 p.m. ET (12:15 p.m. MT). Poulter will play Day in the third-place match beginning at 1:55 p.m. ET (11:55 p.m. MT).
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- This battle of former Accenture Match Play Championship winners didn't disappoint.
Ian Poulter put a damper on Steve Stricker's 46th birthday, though, as he pulled away in the middle of the round for his 24th vicory in 33 matches in this global event.
Poulter actually made his first -- and only bogey -- in his last three matches at No. 1 as Stricker was in the process of making birdie there to go 1 up. The Englishman got back on track quickly, though, as he rolled in birdie putts of 5 and 40 feet on the next two holes to take the lead the bulldog would not relinquish.
While Poulter was sizing up that 40-footer, Stricker actually was looking at his own 7-footer for birdie at the third hole to possibly win it himself.
"Steve is always a tough person to beat, and he was going to play some good golf today," Poulter said. "That's exactly what he did. I managed to keep my nose in front, I guess, with a typical match play swing on the par-3 third hole. It looks like Steve is going to be going up right there, and I hole, he misses. And from then on I sort of took over and got myself in front."
Poulter holed a chip at the sixth hole for a 2-up lead and then drained a 25-footer for eagle at the par-5 eighth to go one better. Stricker's 4-footer for birdie at the 10th hole narrowed the gap to 2 down but Poulter responded with two consecutive birdies to take a 4-up lead.
A conceded birdie at the 14th hole gave Stricker a glimmer of hope at 3 down but the next two holes were halved with a birdie and a par and Poulter was on to the next round.
SCORECARD STATS: Poulter made six birdies, one eagle and one bogey. Stricker made four birdies and one bogey.
HOLES WON: Poulter won six holes. Stricker won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Poulter plays Hunter Mahan, who beat Webb Simpson 1 up in the quarterfinals.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Ian Poulter continued to steamroll his way toward a shot at a second Accenture Match Play Championship title with his decisive win over Tim Clark.
Poulter never trailed in the match, which started on the back nine. He took control and a 3-up lead at the turn after Clark closed out the back nine with three straight bogeys.
The Englishman, who won this tournament in 2010 and reached the consolation finals in 2005, then won the third hole with another par and closed out the match with a 7-footer for birdie at the sixth hole.
"It was job done today," Poulter said. "I think my short game was on today. I missed a few greens in the wrong spots, but managed to get up and down. And when I hit greens, I had great birdie opportunities. That's always tough when you make so many pars and make a few birdies to obviously be beaten, and I was pretty pleased with that today."
Poulter's Accenture Match Play Championship record improved to 21-9 with the win. He has not made a bogey in his last two matches.
SCORECARD STATS: Poulter made three birdies and no bogeys. Clark made three birdies and five bogeys.
HOLES WON: Poulter won six holes. Clark won one hole.
NEXT OPPONENT: Steve Stricker, who beat Scott Piercy 1 up.
MARANA, Ariz. -- England's Ian Poulter, who won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010, looks in terrific form again at Dove Mountain after dispatching American Bo Van Pelt, 3 and 1, in the second round.
Poulter, a No. 3 seed, had a bogey-free round with six birdies and another birdie putt conceded.
"I played the type of golf that's going to be tough to beat," Poulter said. "Very pleased how I took some mistakes from yesterday and kept a very clean round."
Having taken the last six weeks off prior to this week, Poulter said he "couldn't feel any fresher or fitter."
Van Pelt, a No. 6 seed, grabbed the early lead with his second birdie of the day at the par-4 fourth. But he suffered consecutive bogeys at the sixth and seventh holes to fall 1 down.
Poulter pulled away from there. He birdied three of the next four holes to move to 4 up. Van Pelt responded by winning the next two holes, including the par-5 13th when Poulter settled for par after just coming up short of the green in two.
"Only mistake I made was I 3-putted from 100 feet," Poulter said before adding, "Shucks."
Both players birdied the par-4 15th, then Van Pelt conceded the 17th hole and the match after missing his 12-foot birdie putt.
SCORECARD STATS: Poulter carded six birdies, had another birdie putt conceded and no bogeys. Van Pelt carded six birdies and three bogeys.
HOLES WON: Poulter won six holes. Van Pelt won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Poulter plays Tim Clark in the third round of the Snead bracket.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Englishman Ian Poulter, a No. 3 seed, defeated 14th-seeded Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, 2 and 1, in the completion Thursday of their first-round match.
Poulter now faces American Bo Van Pelt in the second round Friday of the Snead bracket.
Poulter entered the day 3 up through 12 holes. He stumbled at the par-4 14th, losing the hole with a double bogey. But after Gallacher drained a 20-foot birdie putt at the 15th, Poulter followed with his own short birdie putt after hitting his approach shot inside 4 feet to halve the hole and derail Gallacher's momentum.
For Poulter, it was the first time he had advanced past the first round since winning here in 2010.
"I'm fully aware of my early exits the last couple years," Poulter said, "and obviously didn't want to do that again."
Ian Poulter is a solid choice to win this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
John Merrick used plenty of local knowledge to tame Riviera Country Club en route to his first career PGA TOUR victory at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday. But the UCLA product also played beautifully, ranking inside the top 30 in six major statistical categories. One of those categories really stood out. We'll take a look at that and this week's World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship -- specifically match play guru Ian Poulter and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy -- by going inside the nunbers ...
3 The number of times a No. 64 seed has defeated the No. 1 overall seed in the 14-year history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which kicks off Wednesday at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. … Golf’s version of bracketology is a bit more fickle than the NCAA basketball version. Why? Well, it’s golf. Last season, No. 64 Ernie Els dusted No. 1 Luke Donald, 5 and 4. Donald, who was the defending champ, was going along nicely through seven holes, but proceeded to drop four of the next five. A few bad swings often lead to a quick exit -- especially considering the talent of the No. 64 seed. This year's No. 64 is Ireland's Shane Lowry (he faces No. 1 McIlroy), who won the 2012 Portugal Masters, beating the likes of top-50 players such as Matteo Manassero, Francesco Molinari, Jamie Donaldson and Padraig Harrington.
5 Number of times match play stalwart Poulter has advanced to the Sweet 16 (third round) or better in nine Accenture appearances. … After winning the event in 2010, Poulter has been bounced in Round 1 each of the past two seasons. He enters this week on a roll, having turned his Ryder Cup success into a victory at the HSBC Champions. He also was T9 in his only appearance on U.S. soil this season in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He draws No. 14 seed Stephen Gallacher in Round 1 and with a win would see the winner of Bo Van Pelt and John Senden.
7 Number of top-five finishes in seven straight worldwide events for Charl Schwartzel. … How well is the former Masters champ from South Africa playing right now? Just look at his statistics at the Northern Trust Open, where he finished T3. Get this: Schwartzel was 5th in driving distance, T6 in greens in regulation, 6th in strokes gained-putting, 1st in total putting and 5th in scrambling. Incredible. Look for him to make some noise this week.
10 Number of top-10 finishes in WGC events for McIlroy, who has only competed in 15. … At the WGC-Accenture Match Play, McIlroy is 10-4 and has advanced past the first round in all four attempts. He was runner-up to Hunter Mahan last season. This year his path to the Final Four looks pretty challenging with No. 2 Bubba Watson, No. 3 Schwartzel, No. 4 Dustin Johnson, No. 5 Graeme McDowell, No. 6 Zach Johnson and No. 7 Jim Furyk all lurking in the Bobby Jones bracket.
62.35 percent That’s the scrambling percentage in 2013 for Merrick, the Northern Trust Open champ. It ranks 59th on the PGA TOUR. So what’s the big deal, you ask? … Well, consider Merrick ranked 146th in this category in 2012 at 54.90 percent. Not much has changed when breaking down the keys stats on Merrick from the past few seasons. He’s pretty much the same off the tee, on approaches and in putting. But scrambling is where he’s improved big time so far -- and he even made par or better after missing the green in regulation on 17 of 26 attempts at tricky Riviera. That’s impressive.
79.66 percent Greens in regulation percentage from outside of the fairway through three events for Peter Tomasulo. … The Web.com Tour grad has hit 47 of 59 greens from outside of the fairway to lead the TOUR this season. For comparison, Bubba Watson led this category the past two years at around 60 percent. Tomasulo has made all three cuts.
168 The number of first-round upsets in the 14-year history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. … That’s an average of a dozen upsets (a higher seed winning) each year in 32 first-round matches, with a high of 18 occurring the first year in 1999. That comes out to upsets occurring, on average, a ridiculous 37.5 percent of the time in Round 1. Let the madness begin ...
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
Your plan of attack for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship should consist of equal parts defense and aggression. Just make sure they are in that order.
Since there is no cut, you are guaranteed a payday, and that introduces non-members into the equation.
If you make the decision to play it safe and burn a non-member, focus on a bracket that seems navigable. All four have formidable challenges, but the Hogan bracket is particularly deep, so it wouldn't be wise to lean on Richie Ramsay, Marcus Fraser, Thongchai Jaidee or Hiroyuki Fujita.
Jamie Donaldson and Thorbjorn Olesen offer one of the more intriguing matchups in the Snead bracket, but one will be gone after one round.
A resurgent Henrik Stenson (Snead bracket), who won this event at The Gallery at Dove Mountain in 2007, or fellow Swede Peter Hanson (Player bracket), who went 3-1 last year, are solid options (and both are PGA TOUR members).
Despite the appeal of a non-member, however, I can't deviate from 2012 Ryder Cup hero and 2010 WGC-Accenture champ, Ian Poulter. He loves match play and you won't miss him later. Even though he lost in the first round each of the last two years, you might as well roll the dice on a guy that offers more hope than most. Best of all, he's in the half of the Snead bracket that doesn't boast the same kind of firepower as any other half-bracket.
Last week: Jimmy Walker; T16; $99,000.00
Overall Record: 5-for-7
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 3
Top 25s: 5
Missed Cuts: 2
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: If Ian Poulter could channel the intensity he possesses at the Ryder Cup every week, the Brit would challenge for the trophy every time he tees it up. He'd also probably explode. As it is, Poulter is coming off his second World Golf Championships victory. Will 2013 be the year he finally makes it to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: That come-from-behind win in China at the HSBC Champions notwithstanding, the highlight of Poulter's season came at the Ryder Cup where he went undefeated in four matches. The colorful Brit sparked the improbable European comeback when he birdied the last five holes of his Four-ball match with Rory McIlroy on Saturday afternon to notch a crucial victory over Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. His teammates later called for Poulter to be a Ryder Cupper for life. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: If you saw Ian Poulter during the Ryder Cup you would not be intimidated as much as you would be scared. He was so focused, so intense, it was frightening. Ian is one of the best putters on TOUR and that makes him capable of winning any event. He has played a lot during the offseason and should be primed for a quick start in 2013. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Boy, if how he closed out the year is any indication of what's to come, then 2013 sets up as a breakout season. Normally, the Englishman hurts fantasy gamers by playing a limited schedule consisting only of the tournaments with the deepest fields, but he turned on the jets in stroke-play events to suggest that he'll fulfill the cornerstone label we've wanted to affix for years. Then again, perhaps the foundation was already laid with three top 10s in majors in 2012. That matched his total in his first 36 majors (through 2011). And at $1.715 million, engrave his name into your salary roster. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||1st||WGC-HSBC Champions|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 15
Rounds played: 56
Top-10 finishes: 4
Money List rank: 45th
Driving distance: 145th
Driving accuracy: 39th
Greens in regulation: 168th
Strokes gained-putting: 81st
Scoring average: 29th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
With a 12-3 career record in the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter would certainly be well qualified to one day captain the European team.
”I’ve got a lot of golf to play before I get to that role,” he said Tuesday on the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio. “I would be honored to be asked.”
In the meantime, Poulter is still celebrating a historic comeback by Europe and its 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory on Sunday.
While Europe earned 8 1/2 of a possible 12 points in Sunday’s singles matches, Poulter said the comeback began in earnest on Saturday afternoon when Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker and when he and Rory McIlroy birdied each of the last five holes to rally past Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the day’s final match.
“There was that glimmer of hope,” Poulter said. “We just had to claw a point in that last match.
“The guys were just pumped. That team room went bananas as I walked in. I knew at that moment … we were 4 points behind, but it’s like we weren’t 4 points behind.”
Poulter led the way for Europe, posting a perfect 4-0 mark for the week. He’s also 4-0 for his career in singles play after beating Webb Simpson, 2 up, on Sunday.
In stroke-play events, however, Poulter hasn’t enjoyed the same success. He’s never won a stroke-play event on the PGA TOUR, and he has just two stroke-play wins in Europe since 2006. In the Ryder Cup, it’s been a different story and Poulter isn’t sure why.
“It’s really hard to quantify,” he said. “I can’t explain it. I haven’t won a major but if you look at that record, those are impressive numbers. I’d like to convert those match play numbers into some sort of stroke-play wins.”
Poulter admitted his concentration sometimes wanes when it comes to stroke play. “The pressure you get in a Ryder Cup is way past what you feel in a stroke-play event,” he said. “That’s it right there. I can play golf when I concentrate.”
He can also celebrate.
Poulter and his teammates drank champagne well into the night following the victory, including during their post-round press conference.
”It was absolutely wild; the drinks were flowing,” Poulter said. “The press conference got a little silly. There was a lot of champagne drunk on that bridge.
“Guys were drained and excited. … To be that excited and to drink half a bottle of champagne, that doesn’t mix very well.”
Fortunately for Europe, Poulter and the Ryder Cup do.