Kuchar wins Match Play crown
Marana - Matt Kuchar denied Hunter Mahan a World Golf Championships Match Play Championship title repeat, triumphing over his fellow American 2 and 1 in Sunday's final at Dove Mountain.
Kuchar, eliminated by Mahan in the quarter-finals of the elite 64-man event last year, avenged that defeat as he prevented Mahan from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the title.
"What an incredible feeling to be standing on top after six matches. I really have to give Hunter a lot of credit," Kuchar said.
"He got off to a slow start and I got up pretty quickly, 4-up at the turn. I was thinking I was going to try to do the same that he did to me last year and see if I could do 6 & 5. But Hunter made a great battle, played some great golf coming in."
Mahan was the first defending champion to return to the final since 2006 winner Geoff Ogilvy of Australia was runner-up in 2007.
"I didn't play well. You know, making a couple silly bogeys there. Kooch is a good player, he's a solid player. You saw today how he can get up and down and hit good quality shots. He didn't put himself in the desert really at all," Mahan said. "I put myself behind the eight-ball.
"I hit really good putts on seven and eight, and thought I could get one on nine. I really didn't do anything on those holes. I gained some momentum on 10, but it was too little too late."
Kuchar never trailed in the championship match, and in fact trailed for just three holes the entire week. The victory was his first in a WGC event and his fifth on the US PGA Tour.
Australian Jason Day was third, defeating former champion Ian Poulter of England in the consolation final 1-up.
Mahan 2-putted for par from the fringe at the 16th hole to close within 1-down. Both players then hit into the fairway bunker with their tee shots the 17th hole.
Mahan's second shot from a poor lie in the sand came up short. Kuchar landed his second shot within three feet of the cup. Mahan hacked his ball a few feet, then pitched his fourth shot to about seven feet.
But that would be it. Mahan then conceded Kuchar the birdie putt and the match.
Kuchar's triumph capped a wild week in the Arizona desert, where a snowstorm that halted first-round play on Wednesday was just the first surprise.
When the first round was finally completed on Thursday, the top two players in the world, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, were on their way home, and the second round saw the next four seeds -- Luke Donald, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose -- eliminated as well.
The delays, which also included some morning frost delays, made for long days. But after the third round and quarter-finals were contested on Saturday, Poulter was looking a good bet to challenge for the title.
But Poulter, whose match play credentials include an unblemished Ryder Cup singles record as well as a triumph in this event in 2010 and in the World Match Play Championship in Spain in 2011, fell to Mahan in the semi-finals on Sunday morning, when a biting wind made for tough going.
"It was tricky," the Englishman said. "It was a lot windier today. Hunter never gave me too many opportunities. A couple of chip shots weren't quite right, couple of bunker shots weren't quite right. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't press him more."
Scores on Sunday in the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship:
Matt Kuchar (USA) bt Hunter Mahan (USA) 2 and 1
Jason Day (AUS) bt Ian Poulter (ENG) 1-up
Matt Kuchar (USA) bt Jason Day (AUS) 4 and 3
Hunter Mahan (USA) bt Ian Poulter (ENG) 4 and 3