Skip to main content

Mahan wins WGC Match Play title to deny McIlroy No. 1 spot

February 27, 2012 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
Hunter Mahan shakes hands with Rory McIlroy after beating him 2&1 in the final in Arizona.
Hunter Mahan shakes hands with Rory McIlroy after beating him 2&1 in the final in Arizona.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hunter Mahan beats Rory McIlroy in final of WGC Match Play
  • Mahan's victory denies McIlroy World No.1 spot
  • American never looks back after taking four-hole lead
  • Mark Wilson beats Lee Westwood in third-place playoff

(CNN) -- Hunter Mahan thwarted Rory McIlroy's bid to become world No. 1 by beating the Northern Irishman 2&1 in Sunday's final of the WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona.

Second-ranked McIlroy needed to claim the title to dislodge England's Luke Donald from top spot, but could find no answer to his 29-year-old U.S. opponent, who won his second World Golf Championship event.

"No question when you play a WGC event, it's the best players in the world. It's not just in the U.S. it's in the world, so this feels pretty special," said Mahan, who climbed to ninth in the rankings, making the top 10 for the first time in his career.

"It's hard to get lucky in this week, because you're going to play such great players every single round."

All square through the first five holes, Mahan dramatically turned the match his way by winning the next four holes through a mixture of brilliance and mistakes by U.S Open champion McIlroy.

When you play a WGC event, it's the best players in the world ... so this feels pretty special
Hunter Mahan

The 22-year-old McIlroy chipped in for an eagle to win the par-five 11th and pulled a further hole back with a birdie at the 14th, but could make no further impression.

Mahan, who made six birdies in the final, is the first American to win the Match Play crown at Dove Mountain since Tiger Woods in 2008.

It was his fourth career victory on the PGA Tour, and capped a busy schedule of five successive tournaments -- this one requiring him to play six matches over five days, including 36 holes on the last.

McIlroy has another chance to claim the No. 1 ranking at this week's Honda Classic in Florida, where Donald will not be playing.

"I didn't have my best game with me this week, but I'm happy with how I'm playing and hopefully it won't be long before I'm winning again," he said.

"I've got two more tournaments before the Masters and that's what I'm building up to."

Earlier on Sunday, McIlroy beat Ryder Cup teammate and world No. 3 Lee Westwood 3&1 in their semifinal to end the Englishman's hopes of reclaiming top spot.

McIlroy found himself three down after four holes to his former management agency stablemate Westwood, but he staged a sterling recovery to win four of the next five.

Leading by one hole at the turn, McIlroy was never headed again and carded seven birdies in a fine victory.

Mahan started fast against his semifinal opponent Mark Wilson, winning the opening two holes.

But the all-American clash remained close throughout and Mahan had to wait until the 17th to close out a 2&1 victory.

Wilson beat Westwood 1-up in the third-place playoff.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
It's a big dilemma: Be with your wife for the birth of your first child, or stay at work and try to earn $11 million. For Billy Horschel, it's a no-brainer.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Masters champion Bubba Watson says winning the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot would bring forward his retirement from the game.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the 14th green during the third round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 15, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Ian Poulter kept Europe clinging on in their Ryder Cup battle with the United States in Chicago.
Ian Poulter, who has constantly haunted the U.S. in Ryder Cup golf, is back after being chosen as a wildcard by European captain Paul McGinley.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
ADVERTISEMENT