Kisner Beats Kooch for WGC-Match Play Title

Kevin Kisner got another chance to win the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and didn’t waste it.

The 48th-seeded Kisner, who was routed in the final last year by Bubba Watson, defeated No. 23 Matt Kuchar, 3 and 2, to claim his first WGC title at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.

“I was thinking out there, this might be the hardest one to win, just from a physical standpoint, more than any other week,” said Kisner, the highest-seeded play to win the tournament since No. 62 Geoff Ogilvy of Australia in 2006. “It was grueling out there, with the wind and the (low) temperature today. Overall it was a long week, but I prevailed and I’m a world golf champion.

“I learned a lot (from last year) about preparation, not to get too amped up for the final. You still have to got out and play golf. Neither one of us played great, but I drove it great all week the and I’m just loving this.”

Kisner, who took a 7-and-6 drubbing from Watson, sank an 11-foot birdie putt to win the first hole and never trailed against Kuchar, wrapping up the title with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.

Kooch made only two birdies and missed a number of make-able putts in the final.

“It’s tough to maintain the high level of play the entire tournament,” said Kuchar, who has won twice this season and nine times in his PGA Tour career. “You hope to do it and I feel like I’ve kind of built a game that I could rely on playing some good, steady golf. But I gave too many holes away.

“It’s one of the things I pride myself on is not ever giving holes away. I knew against Kisner I couldn’t do it, and he just plodded along and played good, steady golf, and let me make mistakes. And that was good playing by Kevin.”

No. 7 Francesco Molinari of Italy led all the way in the third place match and turned back No. 50 Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark, 4 and 2.

Kuchar, who won this title in 2013, reached the final by ending the Cinderella run of

Bjerregaard, 1 up, in the semifinals, while Kisner halted Molinari’s streak of 10 straight victories in match play, also 1 up.

Molinari was 5-0 this week before that and 5-0 in helping Europe beat the United States last year in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National outside Paris. He finally lost when he missed an eight-foot par putt on the final hole after pulling even with a five-foot birdie putt following a brilliant tee shot at No. 17.

The 35-year-old Kisner, who played college golf at Georgia, won for the third time on the PGA Tour, also having won the 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational and the 2016 RSM Classic.

By finishing with a 6-1 record for the week, Kisner became the first player to capture the title despite losing a match on the first three days since the WGC-Match Play went to the four-man group format to begin tournament play in 2015.

Kisner has finished second six times on the PGA Tour, losing all four of the playoffs in which he has been involved, but might have turned a corner with easily the biggest victory of his career.

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