Hunter Mahan won the World Golf Championship – Accenture Match Play Championship earlier today by defeating Rory McIlroy 2 & 1. Mahan was in command for the majority of the match and withstood a late charge from McIlroy to hold on for his 4th career win, and his 2nd victory in a World Golf Championship event. The victory seems to have signaled a step forward in the young American’s career, as in the past he had a reputation for allowing victories to slip through his fingertips.
The pair played the front 9 in a manner that nobody could mistake for perfect golf, but Mahan managed to jump out to a 4 up lead after 10 holes, nonetheless. McIlroy, however, was not going to go down without a fight, and played a sensational back 9…but Mahan always seemed to have a counterpunch at the ready. McIlroy is no stranger to coming from behind to grab match play victories, as he came from 3 down yesterday to beat Lee Westwood and move on to the championship match. With a victory, McIlroy could have moved into first place in the world golf rankings, but Mahan had other ideas.
Mahan was a force to be reckoned for the entirety of the Accenture Match Play Championship, pouring in 35 birdies during the course of the tournament. He dispatched several of the world’s best golfers (Zach Johnson, YE Yang, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Mark Wilson) en route to the 2 & 1 win over the 22 year old Northern Irish phenom. With the win, Mahan took home the $1.4 million championship prize, and in the process moved up to number 6 in the FedEx Cup points standings and cracked the top ten in the world, jumping to ninth. He joins very select company as only the 6th player to win multiple WGC championships since their inception in 1999; Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Darren Clarke are the others.
It is often said that one signature victory can alter the entire trajectory of a career. This dominating performance by Mahan may just give him the confidence to realize that he can compete with anyone in the world and catapult him to elite status. If that is the case, I hope that he has a very large trophy case, because he’ll be bringing home a lot more hardware in the very near future.