By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Hunter Mahan played the 18th hole on Saturday afternoon for the first time in four matches this week as he beat the reigning U.S. Open champion.
In fact, the last time Mahan played the 18th hole was in his opening match last year as he embarked on a successful march to the championship. The sixth hole of that match against Zach Johnson last year also was the last time Mahan trailed -- which is an impressive streak of 151 holes.
Mahan and Simpson both played well. They halved the first four holes before Mahan drew first blood with a 17-footer for birdie at the fifth hole.
Simpson birdied the par-5 eighth to square the match but Mahan's 26-footer at No. 10 put him 1 up again. Simpson then got up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 13th for another birdie to square the match.
Mahan got the final edge, though, when he drove the 15th green and two-putted for birdie from 56 feet. The next three holes were halved with pars and Mahan's record improved to 14-4.
"Difficult match against Webb," Mahan said. "Great competitor, great player. I knew it was going to be a tough one, and it was. It was really a seesaw battle. I don't think either one of us really gained too much momentum, it was so back and forth.
"I made a couple nice up and downs and made some nice putts today. In the afternoon that's kind of what led me to victory, obviously making the par on 16 gave me the 1 up lead and I was able to finish it down the stretch. But tight match and really could have gone either way."
SCORECARD STATS: Mahan made five birdies and didn't drop a shot to par. Simpson made five birdies and one bogey.
HOLES WON: Mahan won three holes. Simpson won two holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Mahan plays Ian Poulter, who beat Steve Stricker 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.