MARANA, Ariz. (AP) – Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson advanced Saturday to the semfinals of the Match Play Championship, assuring an American in the championship match for the first time since Tiger Woods won in 2008.
Mahan played the shortest quarterfinal match in the 14-year history of the event, and he didn't have to break a sweat. Matt Kuchar went so cold with the putter that Mahan won five holes simply by making par.
“Matt just couldn't find the putter,'' Mahan said. “I got lucky.''
Mahan was 1 up through four holes when he won the next three holes – all with pars. He built a 5-up lead at the turn and closed out Kuchar by making a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th to win, 6 and 5.
Previously, the biggest rout in the quarterfinals was 5 and 4, last achieved a year ago by Luke Donald over Ryan Moore.
Rory McIlroy was 1 up through 11 holes against Bae Sang-moon, while Lee Westwood won four straight in a five-hole stretch to take a 3-up lead over Martin Laird in the other quarterfinal matches.
McIlroy and Westwood each have a chance to go to No. 1 in the world by winning, though they would meet in the semifinals.
Wilson also had an easy time against Peter Hanson, 4 and 3.
The Swede had not trailed in any of his three matches to get to the quarterfinals. Wilson won the first hole with a par, and it was a case of punch-counterpunch throughout the front nine.
Wilson won the par-5 eight to go 1 up, only for Hanson to hit one of his few good shots on the ninth to 3 feet. But Hanson lost it in the desert. He had been fighting his swing most of the round, losing his tee shots to the right, and he hit driver against a yucca bush to the right of the 10th fairway. He did well to pitch out to the rough, but hit his third shot over the green.
On the next hole, Hanson again went so far right that he played a provisional. He found his ball in decent shape, and got a break when Wilson couldn't get up-and-down near the green for birdie. Hanson, however, missed badly on a 6-foot par putt to lose the hole, and even though he was 2 down, Wilson winning looked inevitable.
Wilson now has beaten Bo Van Pelt, Robert Rock, Dustin Johnson and Hanson to reach the semifinals. He has required only 62 holes in four matches, and he is the only player remaining who has yet to reach the 17th hole since the tournament began Wednesday.
Wilson went over to the 17th and 18th holes after his match, though he didn't play any shots – partly because he was tired, partly because he didn't want to hit an indifferent shot and have that be his lasting memory of those holes.
Mahan hasn't played the last three holes since going extra holes in the opening round against Zach Johnson. After closing out Kuchar on the 13th, he got in a cart and headed for the 16th.