February 24 2013
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).