Skip to main content

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

updated 5:05 AM EST, Mon February 27, 2012
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
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 9:50 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
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.
updated 7:31 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
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.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
Tom Watson selects Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup contest with Europe.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Tiger Woods has split with his longtime coach Sean Foley after not winning a major during their four-year tenure.
updated 7:05 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Success just keeps on coming for Rory McIlroy, but the world No. 1 is already targeting more titles following his second PGA Championship win.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
ADVERTISEMENT