American Mahan beats McIlroy for Match Play championship

2012-02-26T15:47:00Z 2012-03-24T19:11:33Z American Mahan beats McIlroy for Match Play championshipBy Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Hunter Mahan capped a remarkable week at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain by winning the biggest golf tournament of his career.

The Texan defeated Rory McIlroy in this afternoon’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final 2 and 1, securing the Walter Hagen Cup and winning a $1.4 million prize check. His dominant win — Mahan never trailed — will prevent McIlroy from assuming the mantel as the world’s No. 1 golfer.

Mahan birdied 35 holes during his six-match winning streak. He never trailed in the championship match. 

"I got hot there in the middle of the week," he said, "and I was able to ride it out." 

This afternoon’s win was the second of the day for Mahan, a former Oklahoma State star who recently married a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. He defeated fellow American Mark Wilson 2 and 1 in the morning’s semifinal, advancing to face McIlroy, who beat Englishman Lee Westwood 3 and 1.

Mahan and McIlroy teed off at 12:20 p.m., with a crowd of a few thousand walking directly behind them as part of Match Play’s “Follow the Leader” promotion.

He and McIlroy halved the first five holes before Mahan took a 1-up lead with a birdie on No. 6. McIlroy hit into the desert scrub on No. 7 and double-bogeyed, giving Mahan a 2-up lead. Mahan won the eighth hole with a par and birdied No. 10 to take a four-up lead with just eight holes to play. 

That’s when McIlroy, silenced for most of the round, made his move. The Irishman parred the 11th, his first winning hole of the championship match, and — after halving the next two holes — won No. 14 with a 7-foot putt. The two halved the final three holes, and Mahan secured the victory on the 17th green. 

Mahan is the first American to win Match Play since 2008, when Tiger Woods defeated Stewart Cink at The Gallery Golf Club, Dove Mountain. Americans have won the last eight PGA Tour events. 

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