Hunter Mahan / Getty ImagesIf we've learned anything from watching the NCAA Tournament over the years, it's that even the most suspect teams can catch lighting in a bottle for a couple of weeks and make a deep run.
You know the team I'm talking about. The squad has a ton of talent, but for one reason or another, no one trusts them to go deep in the tournament.
If Hunter Mahan were a tournament team, he'd almost certainly be the suspect squad. A guy with a ton of talent and one of the best swings in golf, Mahan made waves in 2010, winning twice on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career and setting the stage for a breakout 2011.
But a funny thing happened last year. Like most suspect teams, Mahan never lived up to the hype. He failed to post and win and took two steps back, leaving many to wonder if the 29-year-old was a legit contender or a pretender.
While this appears to only be a brief snapshot, Mahan seems to be coming into his own this week at the Accenture Match Play. Playing some of the best golf of his career in Marana, Ariz., he's now only one win away from heading to Sunday's final, after he steamrolled fellow American Matt Kuchar in Saturday's quarterfinal match, 6 and 5.
Just a day after Mahan produced 9 birdies in a win over Steve Stricker, he went conservative, parring Kuchar to death to setup a semifinal matchup with Mark Wilson. While Mahan's round wasn't spectacular, it was more than enough to defeat Kuchar, who completely lost his swing just a day after it looked like everything was starting to click.
With the unpredictability of match play, it's impossible to say one way or the other if Mahan will come out firing in the semifinals or turn into Saturday's version of Matt Kuchar.
But the way he's striking the ball at the moment, you have to think there's a better chance of him picking up the biggest win of his career than fading into the distance. Like the suspect team team making a deep tournament run, he's starting to make us believe again.