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Mahan win keeps McIlroy from No. 1

MARANA, Ariz. — Even as Hunter Mahan motored through the Match Play Championship by beating one tough opponent after another, he had reason to feel he was just along for the ride in Sunday's final.

All the chatter was about U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and his march to No. 1 in the world. All the chants Mahan heard as he walked down the first two holes at Dove Mountain were for McIlroy.

With a little extra motivation he didn't need, Mahan won three straight holes on the front nine to seize control and answered McIlroy's charge with birdies for a 2-and-1 victory.

"Deep down, you wanted to postpone that crowning of the No. 1 player in the world for Rory," Mahan said. "He'll get there. I mean, he's phenomenal. … But yeah, when you're a player, and I listen to Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo and all those guys, they had him picked to win. And that's what everybody was talking about.

"There was absolute motivation in that."

McIlroy, the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, put a lot of energy into a high-stakes semifinal against Lee Westwood earlier. Both went into Sunday with a chance to be No. 1 had they won the event.

Luke Donald stays at the top.

McIlroy ran off seven birdies in 10 holes to overcome an early deficit and beat Westwood. But he looked flat in the final, lost back-to-back holes, and fell too far behind.

"To me, it was like my final in a way," McIlroy said of beating Westwood. "That was the one I wanted all week and I got. And that's what I got myself up for. Yeah, maybe mentally and emotionally it did take a little bit out of me. But it still doesn't take away from the fact that Hunter played very, very solid golf."

Mahan's resume over the week included wins over Zach Johnson, Y.E. Yang, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Mark Wilson and McIlroy. Three of them have won majors.

"It feels good because you're going against the game's best," said Mahan, who beat Wilson 2 and 1 earlier Sunday. "I played well from tee-to-green, putting to chipping to driving, irons, everything was there."

PGA: John Huh parred the eighth playoff hole to beat Robert Allenby and win the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Huh, 21, shot 63 to finish at 13-under 271, then parred all eight holes in the playoff that matched the second-longest in PGA Tour history. In the 1949 Motor City Open, Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum were declared co-winners after 11 holes. "It's amazing," Huh said. "It's my rookie year, especially, and playing in my fifth event on the PGA Tour. … I mean, it was my dream."

LPGA: American Angela Stanford won the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore on the third playoff hole for her first victory since 2009. The 34-year-old Texan parred the last playoff hole, beating South Koreans Jenny Shin and Na Yeon Choi and China's Shanshan Feng. Stanford bogeyed No. 18 to fall into a four-way tie at 10-under 278. Top-ranked Yani Tseng (69) missed the playoff by a stroke. Tampa's Kristy McPherson (71) was 30th, 10 strokes out, and Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (70) was 13 strokes back.

Mahan win keeps McIlroy from No. 1 02/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, February 26, 2012 9:38pm]
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