Poulter back in world top 10 but there's no final fling

 

Revenge was sweet – almost £965,000 sweet – for Matt Kuchar yesterday when he beat defending champion Hunter Mahan to win the Accenture Match Play title in cold and windy Arizona. Crushed 6&5 by his fellow American in last year's quarter-finals, Kuchar captured his first world championship by a 2&1 margin.

England's Ian Poulter, meanwhile, had to settle for fourth place, but is at least back in the world's top 10 for the first time in 25 months.

Europe's Ryder Cup hero failed to claim the trophy for the second time in four years after losing 4&3 to Mahan in the semi-finals, then he went down to a last-green defeat at the hands of the Australian Jason Day.

Mahan had not trailed all week until he bogeyed the fourth hole of the final, but by the turn was four down. Kuchar lost the 10th and 11th before holing what appeared a crucial 12-foot birdie putt at the next after Mahan had fired in his tee shot to four feet. It was halved in two.

Kuchar also birdied the long 13th, only for Mahan to strike back in kind on the next. They shared the driveable 15th in birdies, but Kuchar fired his tee shot to the short 16th into the grandstand and was only one up. Both bunkered their drives off the next, but Mahan found much the worse lie and could not recover.

Poulter had been trying to make it back-to-back World Golf Championship victories after his triumph at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last November.

He had beaten Stephen Gallacher, Bo Van Pelt, Tim Clark and Steve Stricker to reach the last four, but an inspired 20-yard chip-in by Mahan from over the short 12th proved the decisive moment.

Day looked less interested in the consolation game than Poulter when he fired wildly into the desert on three of the first four holes, but he salvaged a half on one of them and then turned things round.

Poulter bogeyed the seventh, ninth and 12th and could not match his opponent's birdie at the long eighth. Another bogey came on the 14th to leave him three down, but Poulter's pars took the 16th and 17th before Day got up and down from a bunker at the last. He earned £395,000 to Poulter's £321,000.

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