February 26 2012
MARANA, Ariz. – Hunter Mahan has beaten Rory McIlroy, who wass top-seeded in the Gary Player bracket and the No. 2 player in the world, to win the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship 2 and 1.
The victory was Mahan’s second in the global series and the fourth of his career. Mahan, who was seeded sixth, is now one of just six players to own multiple World Golf Championships titles -- and joins Tiger Woods as the only two to do it before their 30th birthday.
Mahan never trailed in the championship match with McIlroy, who could have unseated Luke Donald at the top of the world rankings with a win. The American was also in control from the first hole of his 2-and-1 semifinal win over Mark Wilson.
In fact, Mahan went his last 74 holes without falling behind in a match. The last time Mahan trailed was the third hole of his second round match with Y.E. Yang on Thursday.
"I got hot there in the middle of the week and was able to ride it out,” Mahan said simply.
McIlroy entered the title tilt after a hotly-contested semifinal match with Lee Westwood, who is ranked No. 3 in the world, on Sunday morning. He said Saturday evening that was the match he “wanted” and acknowledged that in retrospect he might have put too much focus there.
"It probably took me a few holes to get going but that's not really an excuse," McIlroy said.
WATCH: McIlroy chips in for eagle
CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATES (All times ET)
5:46 p.m. – Mahan has won the Accenture Match Play Championship with a 2-and-1 decision over Rory McIlroy, who is the No. 2 player in the world. Mahan putted his birdie attempt to 14 inches and McIlroy conceded the tap-in for the title.
5:37 p.m. – It’s all come down to this. McIlroy has a 29-footer for birdie while Mahan’s putt will come from 21. The Northern Irishman needs a birdie to extend the match. His putt is headed for the cup but stops 15 inches shy of the hole. Now it’s Mahan’s turn.
5:26 p.m. – Mahan’s birdie putt catches the left edge of the cup and refuses to drop. He makes the 3-footer to save par and the match is dormie. Minutes earlier, McIlroy’s birdie putt had stopped a mere 19 inches from the hole. Mahan 2 up through 16.
5:23 p.m. – Both finalists are safely on the green at the par-3 16th. McIlroy has the longest birdie putt from 38 feet while Mahan is 11 feet closer. Will the match end here?
5:20 p.m. – Mahan plays first and he’s chosen to putt, the ball stopping 11 inches from the hole. After McIlroy concedes the birdie, the Northern Irishman sizes up his own eagle putt. The ball rolls 4 feet by but McIlroy makes it coming back for his third straight birdie, this one to halve. Mahan 2 up through 15.
5:13 p.m. – McIlroy takes out his driver – no surprise – and his ball bounces on the putting surface and runs 30 feet by the hole. Mahan’s drive stops just short of the green, 43 feet from the pin.
5:09 p.m. – McIlroy responds by burying the birdie putt to win the hole. The driveable, 315-yard 15th should be even more interesting now. Mahan 2 up through 14.
5:06 p.m. – Rory McIlroy is running out of holes but he’s given himself a chance at the 14th hole with a pin-point approach that stopped 7 feet from the pin. First, though, Mahan putted from 53 to 5 feet to put a little pressure on the Northern Irishman.
4:54 p.m. – McIlroy hit a great putt that stopped a mere 13 inches from the pin. Mahan conceded that birdie, then walked back into the bunker to hit his third shot. He blasted out to 6 feet and made it for the tying birdie, despite putting into his shadow. Mahan 3 up through 13.
4:49 p.m. – The right greenside bunker gobbled up Mahan’s approach on the par-5 13th. McIlroy, who had outdriven his opponent by 20 yards, ended up at the bottom of the big undulating green about 69 feet from the hole in two.
4:40 p.m. – Mahan’s tee shot at the par-3 12th landed in the back fringe, 28 feet from the pin. McIlroy was on the putting surface, 27 feet, 6 inches away. Mahan misses and McIlroy concedes his par. Ditto for McIlroy when the roles are reversed. Mahan 3 up through 12.
4:32 p.m. – Finally McIlroy may have gotten a little momentum – chipping in for eagle to win the 11th hole. Mahan was in the deep rough beside the green at the par 5 in two but didn’t come close to answering. Mahan 3 up through 11.
4:18 p.m. – Take that. Mahan nearly holed his approach at the 10th hole, the ball rolling over the right edge and stopping 26 inches from the pin. McIlroy hit a great approach that covered the pin as well, but he couldn’t convert the 11-footer for birdie. Mahan 4 up through 10.
4:09 p.m. – For the first time in three holes, it’s a fairway and green in regulation for both players at the ninth hole. Mahan had a 56-footer that rolled 3 feet by the hole. McIlroy’s 25-footer stopped 19 inches away so Mahan had to make his par putt, which he did for the halve. Mahan 3 up through 9.
3:55 p.m. – Mahan’s birdie putt scared the hole but wouldn’t fall. So McIlroy had a chance to halve if he could convert his par putt but it, too, was off the mark. Mahan 3 up through 8.
3:52 p.m. – Another drive into the waste area at the par-5 eighth hole has proven costly for McIlroy. His second came up well short of the green and his third went over. Mahan found the green in two and putted from 68 feet to 8 feet, 6 inches before McIlroy chipped three inches closer.
3:43 p.m. – Mahan got the message and chipped 20 feet past the hole before McIlroy hit his third shot to 10 feet. Mahan missed his par putt but McIlroy conceded the 2-footer. When the world No. 2 missed his bogey putt Mahan had his second straight win – with a bogey, this time. Mahan 2 up through 7.
3:35 p.m. – Mahan and McIlroy hit their drives at the seventh hole within a yard of each other and their second within three yards left of the green. McIlroy chipped first – looking for a one-hopper – but the ball landed soft and rolled back down the hill.
3:24 p.m. – Mahan applied some pressure with a stellar 9-iron that settled 20 inches from the pin at the par-3 sixth. McIlroy went left and long, conceding Mahan’s birdie without even walking up to look. He knew what he needed to do, after all, but was unable to chip in to halve. Mahan 1 up through 6.
3:17 p.m. -- The championship contenders made their first pars of the day at the fifth hole after halving two holes with birdies and two others with bogeys. Each had a birdie putt; McIlroy’s from 29 feet and Mahan’s from 22. All square through 5.
3:05 p.m. – McIlroy’s third shot found the green but stopped 34 feet short of the hole. Mahan then blasted out of the bunker to 11 feet and missed the putt to save par. The hole was halved with bogeys after McIlroy made his from 3 feet. All square through 4.
3:01 p.m. – McIlroy went for it on the driveable par-4 fourth hole and his ball strayed right into the shrubs in the desert. Mahan, who had used an iron off the tee, then quickly hit his second shot into the greenside bunker without knowing what McIlroy was going to do. Had he known McIlroy was taking a drop would he have played it safer?
2:55 p.m. – Mahan putts first and the putt drops for his second straight birdie. In a classic case of anything-you-can-do-I–can-do-better, McIlroy makes his two. All square through 3.
2:50 p.m. – Rory McIlroy bogeyed the par-3 third each of the last three rounds. But he exacted a measure of revenge when he put his tee shot safely on and watched as it stopped 6 feet, 4 inches from the hole. Mahan is an inch farther away.
2:44 p.m. – Mahan had a difficult time with his big breaking 61-footer from just off the green, leaving it 13 feet short of the hole. McIlroy’s own eagle effort stopped 4 feet short – and it probably got even longer when Mahan made his for birdie – but the Northern Irishman converted. A ll square through 2.
2:41 p.m. – Mahan drove 316 yards into the desert but there was no issue with the prickly stuff. He put his second shot at the par 5 on the fringe of the green above the gaping greenside bunker. McIlroy hit his drive 334 yards into the fairway and his second to 25 feet for another eagle try.
2:25 p.m. – McIlroy’s second shot goes over the green but he chips to 2 feet to put the pressure on Mahan, who had also missed the green long. Mahan chipped to 19 feet and missed his par putt – but surprisingly so did the Northern Irishman. A ll square through 1.
2:20 p.m. – The two tee shots landed almost on the same line with Mahan 12 yards farther than his opponent. The temperature is about 25 degrees higher than when they teed off in the semifinals.
2:16 p.m. – Mahan is the first American to reach the finals since Tiger Woods played Stewart Cink in the finals in 2008.
2:12 p.m. – The championship match has never featured two players who are in their 20s before today. McIlroy is 22 while Mahan is 29, and the Northern Irishman has a chance to become the youngest winner of a World Golf Championships.