Rory McIlroy lost to Hunter Mahan in the championship of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Mahan got out to a fast start when he birdied four of five holes to go 4 up after 10 holes. McIlroy charged back, but then Mahan won 2 and 1 Feb. 26.
It was Mahan's second World Golf Championship title.
McIlroy tried to charge back and was 5-under par through the first six holes of the back nine. But he only won a single holes of those six. Mahan was simply too much.
Not bad for a nine seed and the 22nd-ranked golfer in the world. McIlroy came into the tournament ranked second in the world and had a top seed.
The other surviving top seed was also defeated in the consolation match. Mark Wilson defeated world number three Lee Westwood 1 up to finish in third place for the tournament.
McIlroy once again was unable to finish a tournament in the United States against other competition. There were shades of last year's Masters when McIlroy was the leader and favorite after three rounds. He rallied and won the U.S. Open two months later.
The comparisons between McIlroy and Tiger Woods are still valid. He's just not as steady and focused as Woods was at McIlroy's age. Had the Northern Irishman won this tournament, he would have been the youngest world number one golfer since Woods.
McIlroy will compete in the Masters again this year. He won't have much time to ponder his loss in the final as he gets ready for the Honda Classic the following weekend. If it had been a stroke play event, McIlroy would have likely dominated the field.
Up next will be the Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort. Woods will make an appearance to try to get back into his groove and win a tournament. Defending champ Rory Sabatini is also scheduled to appear. The par 70 Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., will welcome 125 golfers to one of the premier golf facilities in the world.
The dream Woods versus McIlroy matchup is still on. It just may be delayed by a week.
William Browning has covered sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network including golf and local golf courses in southwest Missouri. He currently resides in Branson, Mo.
- Hunter Mahan
- Rory McIlroy
- Tiger Woods