Mahan trumps McIlroy for Match Play title
Marana, AZ (My Sportsbook) - Hunter Mahan tripped up Rory McIlroy's bid to become the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a 2 & 1 victory in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
The victory was Mahan's fourth on the PGA Tour and his second at a prestigious World Golf Championships event. Mahan won the Bridgestone Invitational two years ago, but this is Mahan's biggest win to date.
Mahan pocketed $1.4 million for the victory and is expected to move to No. 9 in Monday's new world rankings.
"I felt great with my game coming in," Mahan said in his televised interview. "Rory's a great player. I don't know if he'll be ranked No. 1 after this week, but he's the best player in the world right now, for sure."
Had McIlroy beaten Mahan Sunday at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, the reigning U.S. Open champion would've ascended to No. 1 in the rankings.
It was not to be for McIlroy.
After an impressive comeback victory Sunday morning against Lee Westwood in the semifinals, McIlroy came out flat early in the final.
"I knew that was going to be the toughest thing for me today," admitted McIlroy. "It probably took me a few holes to get going, but that's not really an excuse."
He missed a short par putt that would've won the first hole, then two halved the next four. Mahan knocked his tee very close at the par-three sixth and was conceded birdie. McIlroy missed a chip to halve the hole, then Mahan built a huge lead.
Both players missed the green short at the seventh, but McIlroy's chip came up short and rolled back to his feet. He lost seven with a double-bogey to fall 2-down, then lipped out a par putt at the par-five eighth to lose and fall 3- down.
Mahan hit another great iron, this time to two feet at the 10th. McIlroy conceded him the birdie and missed his 15-foot birdie effort to fall 4-down with eight to play.
McIlroy cut into the deficit quickly with a chip-in eagle at the 11th. They halved 12 and 13 and McIlroy picked up another hole with an eight-foot birdie at the 14th.
The two halved 15 with birdies and McIlroy missed a birdie chance at 16. Mahan had almost 20 feet for birdie at 16 to win the match, but his putt skirted the lip and stayed out.
McIlroy couldn't make birdie at 17 and Mahan lagged his 30-footer close enough to force McIlroy to concede and give Mahan the title.
"I knew he was going to make a charge, and he did," Mahan said at the trophy presentation. "I feel pretty proud to hold on like I did."
For McIlroy, it was a missed opportunity thanks to his lackluster start. He played much better on the second nine. McIlroy was five-under in eight holes, but it wasn't enough.
"I was trying to claw my way back, but just left myself too much work to do," McIlroy said on TV.
In the consolation match, Mark Wilson beat Westwood, 1-up, for third place.
NOTES: The PGA Tour travels to Florida next week for The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, where Rory Sabbatini is the defending champion...The European Tour and PGA Tour will be in Florida in two weeks for the World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship in Miami, where Nick Watney will defend his title.
February 26, 2012, at 06:43 PM ET
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