Losing Match Play finalist Mahan proud of "great run"

Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:12pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MARANA, Arizona (Reuters) - Hunter Mahan came up agonizingly short in his bid to complete a successful title defense at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Sunday but felt he had become a better player than he was a year ago.

Until he went one-down to eventual winner Matt Kuchar at the par-four fourth in the final, Mahan had completed 169 consecutive holes without trailing in a run dating back to the opening round of last year's tournament.

"It's a pretty crazy stat," Mahan told reporters after losing the title match 2&1 to fellow American Kuchar on a bitterly cold, windy afternoon at Dove Mountain.

"It's been a great run. I've had some good luck along the way, no doubt, but played a lot of good golf.

"I have a good sense of this golf course. I feel like I can play it well. I have confidence every time I step on the tee. To beat some of the guys I've beat the last two years I think is impressive, and I'm very proud of that fact for sure."

Asked if he was a better player than when he clinched the 2012 Match Play title with a 2&1 victory over Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy in the final, Mahan replied: "Without a doubt.

"I feel like I have more control, more understanding of my game than I did back then, than last year. Through the (weather) conditions, I might have played slightly better this year.

"I just had a bad stretch there where Matt didn't help me at all. He just made a bunch of pars and played really solid golf."   Continued...

Hunter Mahan of the U.S. hits out of the bushes on the 17th hole during the championship match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 24, 2013. Mahan lost to Matt Kuchar 2&1. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan