Kuchar built a 4-up lead at the turn on the strength of two good birdies and two bad bogeys from Mahan, but the defending champion fought back. He won the next two holes, both into a fierce, cold wind, which the cut deficit in half and gave Mahan loads of momentum. And then he hit an 8-iron into 10 feet on the par-3 12th.
That's where the match turned in Kuchar's favor. He followed with an 8-iron to just inside 15 feet, still a difficult putt.
"The shot was certainly good, but the putt was really crucial, and when that went in, I felt like I was still in control of the match," Kuchar said. "Had that putt not gone in, it would have been only a 1-up lead, and I think the match was in anybody's hands at that point."
Mahan kept fighting and trailed by one hole when they got to the 17th, and an exciting back nine ended with a thud. Both hit into the fairway bunker on 17, but Mahan's ball was slightly sunk in the sand, and his approach never came close to reaching the green. Instead, it rolled through a patch of desert until it lodged in a bush. Mahan took four shots to reach the green and conceded the match.
Kuchar won for the fifth time in his career, pocketing just over $3.2 million for his last two titles — the WGC and The Players Championship. He moved to No. 8 in the world and is sure to be looked up on as a contender in the majors this year.
And now, no one will be deceived by Kuchar's easy smile and happy-go-lucky nature when they return to Dove Mountain next year.
"He does it differently," Mahan said. "He's more like a fuzzier, Peter Jacobsen kind of guy who likes to talk. He's super competitive, there's no doubt about it. He plays golf to win, and he works hard at it."
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