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The Tour Report

February 26 2012

1:40 PM

Championship match preview, notes

MARANA, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan will play in the championship finals Sunday of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. That match will start at 2:20 p.m. ET, with the consolation match between Lee Westwood and Mark Wilson beginning at 2:05 p.m. ET.

It will be the first time in Accenture Match Play history that the two finalists are in their 20s. McIlroy, a No. 1 seed this week, is 22; Mahan, a No. 6 seed this week, is 29. It’s also the first time since 2001 that a player from the United States has met a player from Europe in the final.

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The two have played against each other previously in this event – 2009, when McIlroy beat Mahan 1 up.

“It was a really good match,” McIlroy said. “So I'm expecting something similar to that.”

Should McIlroy win, he would win his first World Golf Championships event and become the youngest winner ever of a WGC event. He would also replace Luke Donald as the top-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. And he would become the fourth consecutive international player to win the Accenture Match Play.

After Luke departed early, that was the goal this week -- to try and get through as many rounds as possible, and give myself a chance to get to No. 1 in the world,” McIlroy said. “And I've given myself that chance this afternoon and hopefully I can take it.”

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Should Mahan win, he would claim his second World Golf Championships title, having won the Bridgestone Invitational in 2010. He would also be the first American since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win this event.

Also, if Mahan wins, it will mark the first time Americans have won the first eight events on the PGA TOUR schedule since 2001, when Robert Allenby won the Northern Trust Open in the ninth event of the year. Prior to 2001, the last time Americans won the first eight events of the year was in 1991 when they won the first 12 before Ian Woosnam claimed the USF&G Classic (Zurich Classic of New Orleans).

At No. 22 in the Official World Golf Ranking entering this week, Mahan becomes the lowest ranked player to advance to the finals since Paul Casey (No. 23) in 2009. He is the lowest-ranked American to advance to the finals since Stewart Cink (No. 22) in 2008.

“I’ve got to beat one more incredible player to win,” Mahan said. “It’s going to be a tough match.”