Mahan and Kuchar to meet in Match Play final

Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:51pm EST
 

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Defending champion Hunter Mahan relied on a sharp short game to book his place in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final with a commanding 4&3 victory over 2010 winner Ian Poulter on Sunday.

On a bitterly cold and windy morning in Arizona's high desert, American Mahan sealed victory with a matching birdie at the driveable par-four 15th, sinking a four-footer after Englishman Poulter had rolled in a seven-foot putt.

Mahan, who delivered a superb display of chipping in difficult scoring conditions, will face compatriot Matt Kuchar in the title match later on Sunday at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

Kuchar came from one down after three holes to beat Australian Jason Day 4&3 and will appear in the Match Play final for the first time after reaching at least the last eight for three years in a row.

"I'm excited to have a chance back at Hunter," said Kuchar, who was beaten 6&5 by Mahan in last year's quarter-finals at Dove Mountain. "He's a fantastic player, a fantastic ball striker.

"Being able to control the spin and trajectory of your ball in this wind is an important thing, so it'll be another tough match. He's proved himself a great player in this format."

Mahan, who won last year's title with a 2&1 victory over Rory McIlroy in the final, is aiming to emulate Tiger Woods (champion in 2003, 2004 and 2008) as the only back-to-back winner of the elite event.

"I know I'm playing well," said Mahan, who has completed 166 consecutive holes at the Match Play without trailing in a run dating back to the opening round last year.   Continued...

 
Hunter Mahan of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the third hole during the semifinal round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan