By Brian Bearden, TSB Contributor
Former McKinney High golfer Hunter Mahan earned his second victory in the World Golf Championships, capturing the Accenture Match Play Championship over Rory McIlroy, 2 and 1, to win the Walter Hagen Cup on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Mahan said he has started to learn to celebrate his successes and not worry about his mistakes. Mahan, who jumped from 22nd in the world to ninth on Sunday, broke into the Top 10 for the first time.
Golf fans noticed a more relaxed Mahan after the PGA Tour Championship when he lost in the playoff to Bill Haas despite the FedExCup’s $10 million bonus up for grabs.
“My reaction there probably surprised a lot of people,” Mahan told reporters covering the golf tournament. “But it was because I found out that I played great, and there’s no reason to be upset. There’s always good in every day. If you play bad, there’s probably some good you can find out and something you can learn from. And that’s what I do.
“If I wanted to be the player that I felt like I could be, I was going to have to change,” Mahan told PGATour.com. “I had to take it easy on myself, basically not try so hard. I didn’t want to have my identity stuck with my golf score. They needed to be separated, and I needed to play golf because I enjoyed it and accept the result and move on and not get attached to it.”
Tiger Woods is the only player before Mahan to win two World Golf Championships titles before turning 30.
“I played well from tee to green, putting to chipping to driving, irons, everything was there,” Mahan told reporters. “I needed everything to win. … I’m very proud of how I played. It feels great. It really does.”
McIlroy, the No. 2 player on the PGA Tour, picked up the win he wanted in the semifinals over Lee Westwood but couldn’t beat Oklahoma State’s Mahan in the championship. Mahan won his semifinal over Mark Wilson, 2 and 1.
Mahan won his quarterfinal match, 6 and 5, over Matt Kuchar.
Mahan’s wife, Kandi, told PGATour.com, “He’s been focused all week. He’s just worried about what he’s doing at the time. So last night we were eating dinner, and that was the most important thing to him at the time. And [then] it was Mark [Wilson in the semifinals], and after that, it was Rory. He’s very good about being present, and that’s what he’s working on right now.”
The Accenture victory at the Ritz-Carlton course at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., marks Mahan’s fourth on the PGA Tour.
“To be the player I want to be, you have to win more,” Mahan said. “That’s how you separate players. That’s when you talk about players, how many majors have they won, how many tournaments have they won. I felt like I was capable of winning more than four, but that’s what I have right now. And I feel like I’m doing all the right things.
“But you’ve got to win. That’s all you guys talk about. It’s all the players talk about, whether you win or not. I feel like I’m doing the right steps to become a more consistent player and hopefully win more.”
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Photo of Hunter Mahan by Stan Badz for the PGA Tour.