Jason Day lost his semifinal match to Matt Kuchar at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship before turning it on in the consolation match against Ian Poulter. Day defeated Poulter, 1-up.
Day had some tree trouble here on the seventh hole at Dove Mountain in the semifinals. Can you write the caption for the photo? Give it your best shot by leaving your answer in the comments section below. And as always, please keep it clean!
Hunter Mahan's hopes of a repeat were dashed on the 17th hole Sunday. (Carroll/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
MARANA, Ariz. -- Good and bad fortune affects every aspect of our lives.
You leave 5 minutes early for a meeting and miss a 10-car pileup on the freeway. A rainy election day keeps some voters away from the polls and a candidate barely loses. On a sunny day, a player can’t see a fly ball and the winning run scores.
Hunter Mahan received some misfortune on the 17th hole.
He and Matt Kuchar both drove into the fairway bunker. Mahan had 160 yards, Kuchar had 158. Mahan had a terrible lie; Kuchar’s was fine. The bad lie led to bogey for Mahan and a conceded birdie for Kuchar, ending the match.
It would be easy to say that a unfortunate lie in the bunker led to Mahan’s 2 and 1 defeat but no golf match turns on a single shot. When Mahan shot 40 on the front nine and fell 4 down in the match, he had no margin for error. The bad lie on 17 was bad luck but Mahan gave bad luck the opportunity to happen with a bad front nine.
The match was won on the front nine when Kuchar built enough of a cushion to survive Mahan’s rally.
Par 5s: Mahan hit two bad shots into the par 5s at both the eighth and 13th holes. He pulled both of them wide to the left-hand side, creating terrible angles. Kuchar also missed the greens on those par 5s but his were to the right, so he was chipping uphill. Kuchar made birdie on both holes for wins.
No. 12: The best drama of the final match played out on the par-3, 12th hole. Mahan had just won the 10th and 11th holes and had stuffed it inside of 5 feet at the 12th. Kuchar ripped an 8-iron, from 206 yards, to within 14 feet and made the putt. Mahan halved the hole with a birdie of his own but Kuchar’s tee shot and ensuing putt stopped the momentum.
Home run: Hunter Mahan hit 4-iron into the 201-yard 16th hole and it landed just over the back fringe. Kuchar hit the same 4-iron about 235 yards. It cleared the green but did not go into the grandstands, it cleared everything bouncing off the top of the structure like a home run ball. Mahan flights his ball a little lower than Kuchar and the wind may have decreased just a touch as Kuchar hit his 4-iron. Still, that’s a dramatic difference in distance from the same club selection. Mahan made par, Kuchar made bogey.
Cold day: The wind chill was 37 degrees with the help of 35 mph gusts. Players struggled to keep their hands warm. Kuchar slipped on a pair of oversize mittens with hand warmers. He constantly shook his hands to activate the chemicals in the warming agent. His hands stayed warm, but he looked like he had on kitchen mittens and was just about to take the lasagna out of the oven.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
MARANA Ariz. -- A year ago, Hunter Mahan eliminated Matt Kuchar in the quarterfinals of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
On Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club the two met again and this time Kuchar turned the tables on the defending champion, beating Mahan 2 and 1 to win a title of his own.
Kuchar has now won 14 of his last 16 matches in this global event and he has a 15-3 record overall. It was Mahan's first loss in 12 matches and his record overall is now 15-5.
Kuchar, who won THE PLAYERS Championship 10 months ago, got the upper hand early Sunday afternoon. Mahan was his own worst enemy starting out, making four straight bogeys to hand his opponent a 3-up advantage when the two walked off the sixth green, where Kuchar also happened to make his first birdie of the day.
When Mahan bogeyed No. 4 to start the string of three straight holes won for Kuchar, it marked the first time the defending champion had trailed in an amazing stretch of 169 holes. The streak dated back to the sixth hole of his opening match with Zach Johnson last year.
Kuchar then took a 4-up lead when he made a 3-footer for birdie at the eighth hole. But what looked like it was turning into a runaway changed dramatically on the back nine.
Kuchar made bogey at the 10th hole to surrender part of his advantage. Then Mahan finally started making birdies again -- four in a five-hole stretch starting at the 11th hole to pull to 2 down.
The brisk wind then died down just as Kuchar hit a 4-iron on the par-3 16th hole. The ball ended up next to a hospitality area and Kuchar proceeded to make bogey, and suddenly his lead was a tenuous 1 up with two holes to go.
But Kuchar secured the 2-and-1 win when Mahan's second shot at the 17th hole landed in a bush. He was able to advance it about 4 feet but when he didn't hole his fourth shot, Mahan conceded to Kuchar who looking at a 5-footer for birdie.
"I'm not sure I can explain how excited I am to have won this tournament," Kuchar said. "Match play I find to be such an amazing, unique format, so much fun to play and so much pressure. It seems like each hole there's so much momentum riding and so much pressure on every hole. To come out on top after six matches of playing guys, the top 64 guys in the world, it's an incredible feeling."
Mahan, on the other hand, was at a loss to explain the unusual streak of bogeys on the front nine.
"I just didn't play good golf there," he said. "It just wasn't good. ... Kuch is a good player, he's a solid player. You saw today how he can get up and down and hit good quality shots and didn't put himself in the desert at all really. I just put myself too far behind the eight-ball. ... I gained some momentum on 10 and started playing a lot better after that, but it was just too little, too late."
SCORECARD STATS: Kuchar made five birdies and three bogeys. Mahan made four birdies and four bogeys. He conceded the final hole to Kuchar.
HOLES WON: Kuchar won six holes. Mahan won four holes.
Matt Kuchar continued his solid play this season by winning the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship with a 2 and 1 victory over Hunter Mahan on Sunday in Marana, Ariz.
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MARANA Ariz. -- Jason Day rebounded after a shakey semifinal loss Sunday morning to take down one of the game's best at this format in Ian Poulter.
Day earned $615,000 for his third-place finish and improved to 8-3 in three appearances at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Poulter's record is 22-11 and he has one win and two fourth-place finishes in nine starts.
Both players had stretches were they were in control. Poulter was 2 up through six holes after Day conceded the first and the Englishman won the fourth with par.
Day started to gain some confidence, though as he won three straight holes starting at the seventh hole. Those two pars sandwiched around an 8-foot birdie putt at the eighth hole took Day from 1 down to 1 up.
The Aussie then led the final 10 holes but didn't make it easy on himself. He won the two par 5s on the back nine with pars to go 3 up but in each case needed a birdie to halve the following hole.
Day then bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to give Poulter a glimmer of hope. Day sealed the 1-up win, though, when he made a clutch 9-footer for par with Poulter looking at a 7-footer of his own to possibly extend the match.
"I won three holes straight, and we were kind of laughing and giggling out there for the first nine, and once we turned the corner on 10, everything got real serious," Day recalled. "He obviously made a couple of good clutch pars on 16 and 17."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made three birdies and three bogeys while conceding one hole to Poulter. Poulter made two birdies and four bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. Poulter won four.
MARANA, Ariz. -- The championship match between Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan marks the seventh time in the 15-year history of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship that both finalists are American.
That last time that happened, though, was in 2008 when Tiger Woods beat Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in 36 holes. In fact, seven of the last eight finalists prior to this year were international players -- the only exception was last year's champion, Mahan.
Six different winners have been American -- Tiger Woods, though, won back-to-back in 2003 and '04, as well as in 2008. Jeff Maggert, Steve Stricker, Kevin Sutherland and David Toms are the other Americans to claim the prize.
The international winners are Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, Australia's Geoff Ogilvy (2006 and '09), Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Ian Poulter and Luke Donald of England.
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).
MARANA, Ariz. -- Hunter Mahan, who has won his last 11 matches at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, will play Matt Kuchar for the title this afternoon at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain.
Mahan beat the 2010 champion, Ian Poulter, by a 4-and-3 margin in the semifinals. Kuchar eliminated Jason Day by the same score.
"He's a great guy, he's a great competitor," Mahan said of Kuchar. "I picture us hopefully hitting a lot of fairways, greens and just kind of letting the other person make mistakes and not being overly aggressive the way it's playing right now. But he's a great guy to play with. I know we're going to have fun."
Kuchar's record is pretty impressive, as well. He has won 14 of his last 16 matches -- losing to the eventual champion in each of the last two years. Luke Donald beat him in the semifinals in 2011 and Mahan eliminated him in the quarters last year.
"Excited to have a chance back at Hunter," Kuchar said. "He's a fantastic player, fantastic ball striker. I know that's certainly going to be helpful in these conditions, being able to control the spin and trajectory of your ball in the wind is an important thing, so it'll be another tough match. He's proved himself a great player in this format."
Day and Poulter will play for third place in a match that begins at 1:55 p.m. ET (11:55 a.m. MT). The championship match begins 20 minutes later.