AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — 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 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.