Ohio - American Hunter Mahan, ice-cool when it mattered the most, held his
nerve over the closing stretch to win the biggest title of his career
by two shots at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, on
While world number one Tiger Woods and second-ranked Phil
Mickelson returned scores they would prefer to forget, Mahan fired a
six-under-par 64 to seal his first victory in an elite World Golf
Championships event and his third on the PGA Tour.
"I feel great," Mahan said greenside after booking his place on the US
team for the October 1-3 Ryder Cup. "This feels unbelievable."
Three strokes off the pace going into the final round, the
28-year-old Mahan charged into contention with a sizzling front nine of
five-under 30 and made two clutch putts to save par over the last four
holes to post a 12-under total of 268.
Ryan Palmer, co-leader overnight, carded a 69 at Firestone Country Club
to finish second, a stroke ahead of fellow American Bo Van Pelt (67)
and South African Retief Goosen (65).
Sean O'Hair, who was level with Palmer at the start of the day, returned a 71 for fifth place at eight under.
Palmer and O'Hair each led outright early on in the final round but
Mahan made the most significant move with his red-hot run to the turn
to draw level with O'Hair at 11 under.
O'Hair slipped back with a three-putt bogey at the 8th and Mahan rolled
in an 11-foot birdie putt at the 13th to establish a two-stroke
advantage which he never relinquished.
He coolly sank par putts from 15 and eight feet at the 15th and
17th, although in between he was very fortunate not to drop at least a
stroke at the par-five 16th.
Mahan was given a free drop there after his second shot ended up in a
flower bed to the right of the green. He chipped 60 feet beyond the
hole before two-putting to save par.
"I was nervous," he said of the closing stretch. "I wanted it (victory)
so bad and I was playing so good. I just didn't want to make any
bogeys. I didn't want to give them (his rivals) any momentum out there."
Woods, a seven-time winner here, produced his worst finish on the US
circuit after closing with a 77 while Mickelson squandered a golden
opportunity to replace his fellow American as world number one.
Left-hander Mickelson would have reached the top of the
rankings for the first time by finishing alone in fourth place or
Having begun the final round tied for 10th, he tumbled into a share of
46th at three over after battling to a 78 that featured a double-bogey
at the 9th where he three-putted from four feet.
"It's hard to be upbeat after a round like today," said Mickelson. "I've got some work to do to get my own game sharp."
Woods, who ended his round almost three hours before the overnight
leaders teed off, produced his highest final score as a professional to
share 78th place in the 80-player field.
At one of his favourite venues, he carded two double-bogeys in the last
five holes to post an 18-over total of 298, 30 strokes behind Mahan.
It was his highest 72-hole aggregate on the PGA Tour, his worst
relative to par and the first time since the 2003 PGA Championship he
had strung together four rounds over par.
"(I'm) just not playing well," a grim-faced Woods said after totalling
33 putts. "The only thing I can say all week is I was patient, and
unfortunately that's not enough."
268 Hunter Mahan (US) 71 67 66 64
270 Ryan Palmer (US) 70 68 63 69
271 Retief Goosen (South Africa) 67 66 73 65
Bo Van Pelt (US) 67 68 69 67
272 Sean O'Hair (US) 67 70 64 71
273 Jim Furyk (US) 72 68 69 64
Jeff Overton (US) 67 70 67 69
274 Peter Hanson (Sweden) 69 66 68 71
275 Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa) 72 70 68 65
Padraig Harrington (Ireland) 69 70 70 66
Adam Scott (Australia) 66 70 72 67
Steve Stricker (US) 68 71 69 67
Rory McIlroy (Britain) 68 69 69 69
Matt Kuchar (US) 69 67 66 73
276 Dustin Johnson (US) 72 65 68 71
277 Martin Laird (Britain) 70 71 68 68
Ryan Moore (US) 70 68 70 69
Nick Watney (US) 68 68 69 72
278 Justin Rose (Britain) 71 70 70 67
Stewart Cink (US) 72 69 70 67
Kenny Perry (US) 66 73 68 71
279 Paul Casey (Britain) 68 68 73 70
Sergio Garcia (Spain) 70 70 69 70
Martin Kaymer (Germany) 72 67 69 71
Jason Day (Australia) 69 70 69 71
Graeme McDowell (Britain) 66 73 68 72
Lucas Glover (US) 70 66 70 73
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 69 67 70 73
Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 71 67 68 73
Bubba Watson (US) 64 71 70 74
Justin Leonard (US) 68 66 69 76
Ernie Els (South Africa) 69 70 64 76