Matt Kuchar finally put Hunter Mahan in a hole and then answered every challenge Sunday to win the Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz.
Defending champion Mahan had gone 169 holes over 11 matches without trailing in the tournament until Kuchar won the fourth hole of their championship match with a par.
Mahan never caught up. Kuchar took advantage of a series of miscues to build a 4-up lead at the turn, and then held off a challenge by Mahan.
There was never a dull moment on the back nine. Only two holes were halved, and those were with birdies.
The match ended when Mahan went from a tough lie in the bunker to a bush in the desert, and it took him four shots to reach the 17th green.
Mahan removed the stocking cap he used to fight the cold desert air and conceded Kuchar’s birdie for a 2-and-1 victory.
“It seems like each hole there’s so much momentum riding and so much pressure on every hole,” Kuchar said. “To come out on top after six matches of playing the top 64 guys in the world, it’s an incredible feeling.”
Mahan was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners, and he gave it a good shot despite the big deficit halfway through the match.
“Just had a bad stretch against Matt on the front nine there that put me just a little bit too far behind,” Mahan said.
In a strong, cold wind — the wind chill index reached a low of 37 degrees on the final day — Mahan made a long two-putt par to win the 10th, and played a tough chip from the mound of a bunker to about 6 feet for a birdie on the next hole, cutting the lead in half.
Kuchar polished off Jason Day of Australia in the semifinals Saturday morning, 4 and 3.
Mahan hit a series of remarkable wedge shots in beating Ian Poulter, 4 and 3, in his semifinal. He twice hit difficult chips inside 5 feet to win holes, and then seized control with a chip-in from about 70 feet on the 12th hole.
Day defeated Poulter in the consolation match, 1 up.
TOUR OPPOSES USGA
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem threw a wrinkle into the plan to outlaw the anchored putting stroke when he said the tour opposed the ban because there was not enough evidence to suggest players had an unfair advantage by using a long putter.
“We hold the USGA in highest regard as a key part of the game of golf,” Finchem said, before adding that the tour thinks the ban “would be making a mistake.”
The USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced Nov. 28 a proposed rule that would prohibit players from anchoring the club to their body. Three of the past five major champions used a belly putter.
Inbee Park of South Korea took advantage of overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn’s triple bogey on the last hole to take a one-stroke victory in the LPGA Thailand in Chonburi. The 17-year-old Jutanugarn, from Thailand, blew a two-shot lead when she first had to take a penalty drop and then missed a three-foot putt at No. 18. … Kevin Foley won the Web.com Tour’s season-opening Panama Claro Championship in Panama City for his first tour title. He birdied No. 18 for a 3-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Australia’s Mathew Goggin.