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February 25 2012

11:15 PM

Notes from inside the ropes

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Hunter Mahan is perfect from the bunkers this week at Dove Mountain.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

MARANA, Ariz. – Mark Wilson is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder this week. When he walked into the interview room following Friday's match with Dustin Johnson one reporter asked, “are you supposed to be here?”

“I think I have been an underdog in every match I've played,” Wilson said. “Because I'm not very tall I think a lot of people assume I'm a short hitter. I'm not a short hitter.” Wilson has averaged 296 yards off the tee this week and will be the underdog in Sunday's match with Hunter Mahan.

Fighting it: Peter Hanson had a simple swing thought that helped him all week long. He concentrated on getting behind the ball, getting his weight back, then turning through. It was good enough to hit 26 of 36 fairways during the first three rounds, but it did not work on Saturday. "I could not get my weight off my right side and kept blocking everything to the right," Hanson said. He ended up hitting five of 12 fairways in losing to Mark Wilson 4 and 3. 

Short game: Instructor Sean Foley says Mahan has concentrated on his short game. Practice must make perfect -- Mahan is five for five in bunker saves this week. He hasn't needed to chip much in his matches as Mahan has hit 39 of 62 greens.

A bullet: Lee Westwood's most impressive shot of the day came at the 11th hole. He had 272 yards into the wind for his second shot into the par-5 and managed to hit a bullet of a 3-wood that never got very high in the air. The shot knifed through the wind and found the back of the green. Maybe the golfing gods did not appreciate the play because Westwood went on the three-putt the hole. It was still an impressive shot and the three-putt did not matter as Westwood closed out Martin Laird 4 and 2.

Sand man: It's one of the embarrassing moments that every golfer has experienced. Laird had a difficult bunker shot at the 14th. It was so difficult, Laird left the shot in the bunker. He hit it again and was still in the bunker. Finally he found the green on his third attempt. It was part of a tough hole and a long day for Laird but every golfer has been there.

Cup Repair: Hanson looked at the cup on the 14th hole and determined it was damaged but also knew the rules. A damaged cup can only be repaired by a rules official. He called for an official who inspected the cup and quickly repaired the damage. Hanson still lost the hole and match to Mark Wilson but his only bogeys came from bad shots and not from a rules infraction.

Putt for dough: Matt Kuchar has the reputation as one of the best putters on the PGA TOUR, but his game was off in Saturday's match against Mahan. He missed six putts inside of 12 feet. For the season, Kuchar is ranked 68th in Strokes Gained-Putting but was 26th in SGP in 2011. Kuchar switched from a conventional putter last year to a longer putter he secured to his forearm and now uses a belly putter this year.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and is inside the ropes this week at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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