MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Matt Kuchar finally put Hunter Mahan in a hole and then answered every challenge Sunday to win the Match Play Championship.
Mahan had gone 169 holes over 11 matches without trailing in this wild tournament until Kuchar won the fourth hole of the championship match with a par, and Mahan never caught up. Kuchar took advantage of a series of miscues to build a 4-up lead at the turn, and then held off a noble challenge by the defending champion.
There was never a dull moment on the back nine. Only two holes were halved, and those were with birdies.
But for all the great shots, the match ended when Mahan went from a tough lie in the bunker to a bush in the desert, and it took him four shots to reach the 17th green. Kuchar wound up winning, 2 and 1, when Mahan removed the stocking cap he used to fight the cold desert air and conceded Kuchar a short birdie putt.
It was the first World Golf Championship title for Kuchar, and it follows a year in which he won The Players Championship. Kuchar became the second player in the last three years to win the Match Play Championship without ever playing the 18th hole.
Mahan was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners, and he gave it a good shot despite the big deficit halfway through the match.
Kuchar polished off Jason Day of Australia in the semifinals Saturday morning, 4 and 3. Mahan hit a series of remarkable wedge shots in beating Ian Poulter, 4 and 3, in his semifinal.
Day defeated Poulter in the consolation match, 1 up.
It was the first all-American final in five years at the Match Play Championship, and Kuchar's win gave the Americans a clean sweep of the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing for the second straight year. He moves to No. 8 in the world and picked up $1.5 million, and has earned just over $3.2 million from his last two wins.