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Kevin Kisner atones for 2018 Match Play loss

Kisner goes one better in 2019. (Photo: Getty Images / European Tour )
It might not have been quite the result that tournament organisers were hoping for but WGC Dell Technologies Champion, Kevin Kisner, is unlikely to be bothered by winning as one of the lower ranked players in the field.

Kisner defeated 2013 winner, Matt Kuchar, in a tight contest although at no stage was Kisner behind his more credentialed rival, eventually winning 3&2 after leading by one hole at the halfway mark of their 18-hole match.

Kisner had reached the final after holding off a late comeback from Francesco Molinari in Sunday morning’s semi-final while Kuchar also had to work hard to hold out this week’s giant killer Lucas Bjerregaard in their semi.

In the afternoon final, Kisner birdied the first to take a 1 up lead and although he bogeyed the 5th hole to lose his advantage he quickly gained a 2 up lead over the next two holes, one that he would never surrender.

The margin extended to 3 up through 15 holes and when both birdied the 16th (Kisner from 20 feet after Kuchar missed an eagle chance from similar distance) the match was all over.

In the consolation match for 3rd and 4th, Molinari defeated Lucas Bjerregaard 4&2.

Not only did Kisner secure his biggest cheque ever (US$1.745 million), his ranking in the game has improved to 25th, still short of his career best of 14th in early 2016 but a huge leap of 25 positions on last week’s standing.

"I was thinking out there it might be the hardest one (to win) just because you have the physical aspect more than any other week. It was grueling, definitely with the winds, the temperature today," said Kisner. "Overall it was a long week, but I prevailed and am now the World Golf champion.

Kisner had lost the final last year to Bubba Watson but would suggest in his post-round interview he had learned from that experience.

"Well, I just learned a lot. I learned about preparation. I learned not to get too amped up for that final. You still have to come out and play golf. I don't think either one of us played our best golf. But I drove it great all week with my Callaway driver, and love my good week.

Kuchar was disappointed that he could not bring his early week form to the final but was also delighted to have done as well as he did overall.

"It's tough to maintain the high level of play the entire tournament," said Kuchar. 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.

"It's a big bonus. It's certainly been a great beginning of the year. To have two wins, to have a second place here. It's been a really good run. Certainly I'll be kicking myself after this one. I'm disappointed not to play the type of golf that I feel I should play." 

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