In either the single-elimination or round-robin format, Mahan has proved to be a tough out. He is now 16-2 in his last four WGC-Cadillac Match Play appearances.
That includes his victory in 2012, when he made 35 birdies in 96 holes and rolled through three major champions, five Ryder or Presidents Cup team members, and the eventual No. 1 player in the world, Rory McIlroy.
“I felt like I had the lead the whole time,” he said of the 2012 event. “That’s what it feels like this week.”
Mahan jumped out to an early 2-up lead on Friday, but Kuchar won the sixth with a birdie and the seventh with a par – the first time all week that Mahan had lost a hole. He responded with wins on Nos. 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14 to face John Senden.
“I’m just not giving holes away,” Mahan said, “trying to put the ball in play and put pressure on my opponents as best I can.”