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Kevin Kisner wins Match Play, beating Matt Kuchar 3 and 2

Kevin Kisner watches his drive on the sixth hole during the finals against Matt Kuchar at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Kevin Kisner watches his drive on the sixth hole during the finals against Matt Kuchar at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Kevin Kisner made it to the Dell Technologies Match Play final for the second straight year, and this time he got it right.

A week that began with a loss ended with the biggest victory of Kisner’s career when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt to close out Matt Kuchar, 3 and 2, in the chilly championship match Sunday at Austin (Texas) Country Club.

“It was a long week. I prevailed. And I’m a world golf champion,” Kisner said off the 16th green.

He became the first player to win Match Play after losing in the championship match the previous year. That one wasn’t close, as Bubba Watson raced out to a big lead and ended the match in 12 holes.

Kisner never trailed against Kuchar, though it was tight at the turn until Kuchar made too many mistakes. He missed a 12-foot putt on the 10th that would have tied the match, and on his next swing put his tee shot into the water on the par-3 11th.

Kisner, equipped with a 2-up lead, took it from there. He halved holes by making putts from 6 feet and 4 feet, and then seized control on the 15th when Kuchar’s chip was too strong and led to another lost hole. He won for the third time in his career, this victory worth $1,745,000.

Kisner had to play 120 holes over seven matches in five days, a week that began with a loss to Ian Poulter in group play. Kisner became the first player to win the Match Play with a loss during the round-robin portion, which began in 2015. The second straight All-American final resulted in a sixth consecutive U.S. victory in the World Golf Championships.

Kisner first had to get past British Open champion Francesco Molinari, so dominant that he had never played the 18th hole in five previous matches this week. Molinari birdied the 16th and 17th holes to tie the match, but on the 18th, the Italian three-putted from 25 feet above the hole as Kisner advanced. Kuchar, who won the Match Play in 2013, beat Lucas Bjerregaard in the semifinals in another match that went the distance. Bjerregaard, who knocked out Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals.

Molinari beat Bjerregaard in the consolation match.

PGA Tour

Graeme McDowell won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship for his first PGA Tour title since November 2015, closing with a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Chris Stroud and Mackenzie Hughes in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

“This is big. This is big. … It’s been a rough few years,” said McDowell, the 39-year-old major champion from Northern Ireland.

He didn’t get an automatic Masters spot with the victory because the event was played opposite the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

“It’s difficult to win on the PGA Tour,” McDowell said. “Don’t like calling this a second-tier event, but obviously the best players in the world are in Austin, Texas, this week. Still got a great field down here.”

McDowell took the lead from Stroud with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and closed with a bogey – lagging a 30-foot par putt to inches – on the par-4 18th. Stroud bogeyed the final two holes in a 69. Hughes also closed with a bogey for a 66.

McDowell finished at 18-under 270, rebounding from an opening 73 with consecutive 64s to take a one-stroke lead over Stroud into the final round. The 2010 U.S. Open champion, McDowell won his fourth PGA Tour title.

PGA Tour Champions

Scott Parel made a 12-foot par putt to match Kevin Sutherland on the fifth hole of a playoff before play was suspended because of darkness in the PGA Tour Champions’ Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Mississippi.

They will finish Monday morning after a long cold day at Fallen Oak.

Sutherland, the second-round leader, missed a 2-foot par putt on the second extra hole – the third straight hole he missed putts for the victory. He failed to make a birdie in all 23 holes, closing with a 3-over 75 to match Parel at 7 under.

Parel made an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th in regulation for a 69.

Sutherland had his best chance for birdie on 18 in regulation, but his 6-footer went left. He missed a 15-footer on 18 to open the playoff.

Billy Andrade shot a 71 to finish a stroke out of the playoff, three-putting the 18th for his second bogey in the last three holes.

LPGA Tour

Nasa Hataoka won the Kia Classic at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California, for her third victory in her last 16 LPGA Tour starts.

The 20-year-old Japanese player closed with a 5-under 67 for a three-stroke victory over playing partner Inbee Park, top-ranked Sung Hyun Park, Jin Young Ko, Azahara Munoz and Danielle Kang.

Hataoka shot a 64 on Saturday to pull within a stroke of Inbee Park entering the final round in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week.

Hataoka finished at 18-under 270. She won the NW Arkansas Championship and Japan Classic last year.

Winless in 12 months, Inbee Park had a 71 to miss a chance for her 20th LPGA Tour victory. Sung Hyun Park also shot 71, Ko and Kang had 65s, and Munoz a 68. Ko won the Founders Cup last week in Phoenix.

Hyo Joo Kim matched the course record with a 62 to tie for seventh at 14 under.

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