Sunday found the desert course at Dove Mountain very cold and very windy. Matt Kuchar was matched with Jason Day, and Hunter Mahan was playing against Ian Poulter.
Mahan and Poulter had sailed through their divisions and proved to be the best of the two matches. Mahan played as consistently as he had for the past few days, Poulter did not. Mahan won 4 and 3 to advance to the final match later in the day.
It was basically the same for Kuchar. Day was in the desert often, and Kuchar, who never seems to hit a really bad shot sent him home also winning 4 and 3.
An “all-American” final, Kuchar vs. Mahan.
Kuchar took the lead early. On the back nine, Mahan rallied, and was only two holes back. Kuchar won the 13th, back to 3 up with 4 to play.
The winner receives 1.5 million dollars, and 550 points towards the FedEx Cup Championship. The winner of the FedEx takes home 10 million dollars.
Mahan, last year’s winner, wasn’t finished. He regained a hole on 14, now only 2 down.
15 saw Kuchar pitch past the hole, giving him a longer putt for birdie than Mahan, He calmly holed it, and Mahan followed. Three holes to go.
Kuchar made the par 3 sixteenth hole unwinnable. He hit his tee shot between “hospitality suites”, and proceeded to pitch his shot beyond the hole, allowing Mahan to win. Kuchar was now only 1 up with 2 to play.
The 17th found both players in the fairway bunker. Nearly one half of Mahan’s ball was buried in the sand. He proceeded to hit it “into the desert”, and into the middle of a bush. His effort went only 5 feet away. He had to hole the next shot because Kuchar had placed his ball just over two feet from the hole. He failed and Kuchar won the tournament 2 and 1.
Match play is different, especially when it’s only played on an 18 hole course. Surviving and ending up number 1 from a start of 64 golfers is pretty amazing, especially when you add the extreme weather conditions in Arizona this week.
Jason Day won the consolation match over Ian Poulter. The difference was a mere 115,000 dollars. (I still kick myself for plays basketball, baseball, and football when I was young).
The tour goes to Florida next Thursday. If a hurricane doesn’t suddenly appear, the golfers may see better weather, allowing them to wear golf shirts instead of ‘ski gear’.
Columnist-The Guardian Express