MARANA, Arizona (AFP) –
Defending champion Hunter Mahan defied cold morning temperatures and gusty winds to beat England’s Ian Poulter 4 and 3 Sunday and reach the final of the WGC Match Play Championship.
Mahan, trying to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win back-to-back titles in this elite World Golf Championships event, was to face fellow American in Sunday afternoon’s final at Dove Mountain, scheduled to tee off at 12:15pm (1900 GMT).
Kuchar defeated Australian Jason Day 4 and 3.
Poulter, whose match play credentials include an unblemished Ryder Cup singles record as well as a triumph in this event in 2010 and in the World Match Play Championship in Spain in 2011, never fully fired against Mahan.
“It was tricky,” the Englishman said. “It was a lot windier today. Hunter never gave me too many opportunities. A couple of chip shots weren’t quite right, couple of bunker shots weren’t quite right. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t press him more.”
Mahan never trailed. He went 1-up at the second hole, and after Poulter squared the match with a par at the fourth, the American immediately regained the advantage with a birdie at the fifth and from there never relinquished the lead.
Kuchar, who lost to eventual champion Luke Donald in the 2010 semi-finals here and in the quarter-finals to Mahan last year, finally gets his shot at the title.
He rolled in a five-footer for birdie at the 15th to close out the match against Day, who was unable to make his 22-footer to extend the match.
“The wind has made things really challenging,” Kuchar said. “I think making pars this afternoon is going to be critical.”
Day and Poulter will face off for third place in the tournament that saw top seeds Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods eliminated in the first round on Thursday, with the next three seeds — Luke Donald, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose — following them out in the second round.