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.