Or was it the Oscars?, the NBA all-star game, the Mayakoba Golf Classic, Corey Pavin’s first Champions Tour win, or something else?
It’s the quality of the sub-stories that really matters. Who overcame the most? Whose win had the biggest impact? Who’s performance eclipsed the rest?
Hunter Mahan’s win at the Accenture Match Play Championship was sweet redemption. It was his first quality time with a trophy since the Ryder Cup that Europe barely won. As you recall, he was too shaken up at the press conference to speak; Hunter felt he let the US team down when his difficult chip in the Sunday singles match versus Graeme McDowell came up short of the green. But Mahan played like a champ all week in Arizona.
His win against Rory McIlroy kept the Northern Irishman from a No. 1 world ranking.
Thanks to Luke Donald, the current world No. 1. Donald’s first round exit left the pedestal available for McIlroy to step up.
Mahan was gracious and complementary about the 22 year-old defending US Open champ. “He’s phenomenal,” Mahan said. “He’s really talented. He’ll be No. 1 eventually.”
What makes Mahan’s win more amazing is it was his fifth consecutive tournament in a row—5 straight weeks beginning with the monstrously long Torrey Pines South.
Mahan’s links marathon took him to the Qatar masters before 6 matches in 5 days in Arizona where he beat Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, and Mark Wilson in the first half of a 36-hole final on Sunday at the Accenture.
Considering the quality of Mahan’s opponents, his 35 birdies this week and the fact he did not fall behind in a match in his final 74 holes is nothing short of phenomenal. After going 1 down to Zach Johnson in the first round, Mahan never trailed again.
Hunter was just that as he won 37 of the 96 holes he played. Even with McIlroy 5-under in the last 7 holes against Mahan, it wasn’t enough.
The consolation match on Sunday was between another Yank and Brit. Mark Wilson beat former world No. 1 Lee Westwood. Wilson, who lost to Mahan in the morning semifinal, took 3rd place with the drubbing of Westwood.
One interesting note: 3 out of 4 players in the final two matches at Accenture were sponsored by Ping. Ping is based in Arizona, site of the tournament. Two other Ping players also won on Sunday. John Huh took the the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico in an 8-hole playoff over Robert Allenby. The record for longest PGA playoff was the Motor City Open; after pushing 11 extra holes, Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum were declared co-winners.
The other Ping pro win was in Singapore. Angela Stanford won on the third hole of sudden death at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
Ping must be doing more than handing their players money and equipment. Whatever it is, they’re making it easier to win.
The top story Sunday could’ve been Ping’s golf world tromp. Could’ve been Kobe Bryant passing Michael Jordan in NBA career all-star scoring. It could’ve been ‘The Artist’ cleaning up at the academy awards. Or maybe how US players are a perfect 8-for-8 in PGA Tour wins in 2012. Jay Haas eagling 18 three days in a row at the Allianz Championship after his son Bill won last week in L.A. Hunter Mahan’s birdiefest was pretty killer but check out Corey Pavin’s left-handed up-and-down which lead to his first Champions Tour win. Awesome. Creative. Fearless.
Tune in to the Honda Classic this week as Tiger Woods makes his professional debut in the event that was just a 9-iron from his house in Windermere.