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
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
The next generation of golfers just keeps on getting younger. "They have the confidence to perform against their idols," says one ex-prodigy.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
He was Spain's ultimate matador and golf's greatest escape artist.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy declares he'll represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics, not Great Britain.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Already admired by Annika Sorenstam and with a bucketful of talent, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has the world of golf at her feet.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
Mike O'Connor, UK FootGolf
Like footie? Partial to a bit of golf? Then you'll love FootGolf. The sport's growing fan base includes a host of former English Premier League stars.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
Golfers at at Barkway Park don't seem to concerned and have been taking pictures and videos of the bird when it appears on the greens and fairways.
A runaway ostrich-like bird hiding near an English golf course has caused quite a stir. Some say it's dangerous, while others are cashing in.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
ADVERTISEMENT