Hunter Mahan of the USA produced an excellent final round of 64 to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by two shots from countryman Ryan Palmer. Mahan beat World Number 1 Tiger Woods by 30 shots.

Mahan began the final round three adrift of overnight leaders Ryan Palmer and Sean O’Hair but he came out of the blocks at pace. The 28-year-old birdied three holes in a row from the third then the 8th and 9th to reach the turn in just 30 blows.

He made one further birdie at the 13th then pars were enough for him to maintain his advantage over the pack. The American played solidly on the run for home, save at the par-5 16th. It’s a hole that famously produces drama – Padraig Harrington took eight at the 16th in last year’s tournament to remove himself from contention – and Mahan had difficulties on it as well.

He went for the green in two but fired it massively long and right over the grandstand. His ball came to rest in a flower bed from where, incredibly, he received a free drop as it was deemed to be part of the cart path. He chipped it back into play then got up-and-down to save par.

Two further pars saw him post a clubhouse target of 12-under-par. Ryan Palmer came closest to matching that total but he came up just two shots shy. It was Mahan’s second PGA Tour victory of 2010, it lifted him to 12th on the Official World Golf Ranking and secured his spot in the US Ryder Cup team.

“This is one of the bigger tournaments we play all year,” Mahan said. “And it’s definitely the best win of my career.”

Palmer closed with a 69 and wasn’t disappointed to finish as runner-up. “I played good today under the gun. You’ve got to hand it to Hunter Mahan. He went out and shot a low round. I didn’t lose the golf tournament.”

Tiger Woods retained his position as World Number 1 as Phil Mickelson was unable to finish in the top four, but that was the only positive the 14-times Major champion could take from the week. He finished on a total of 18-over-par – his highest ever score on the PGA Tour. He finished tied 78th in a field of 80.

“Shooting 18-over par is not fun, especially since my handicap is supposed to be zero.” he said.

He finished some six hours before Mahan and, after a swift press conference, headed straight for Wisconsin to begin preparations for the final Major of the year. The USPGA Championship will be contested next week at Whistling Straits.

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio
August 5-8, purse $8,500,000, par 70

1   Hunter Mahan (USA)   71   67   66   64   268   $1,400,000
2   Ryan Palmer (USA)   70   68   63   69   270   $840,000
T3   Retief Goosen (RSA)   67   66   73   65   271   $412,500
T3   Bo Van Pelt (USA)   67   68   69   67   271   $412,500
5   Sean O’Hair (USA)   67   70   64   71   272   $295,000
T6   Jim Furyk (USA)      72   68   69   64   273   $227,500
T6   Jeff Overton (USA)   67   70   67   69   273   $227,500
8   Peter Hanson (Swe)   69   66   68   71   274   $180,000
T9   Padraig Harrington (Ire) 69   70   70   66   275   $125,833
T9   Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)   72   70   68   65   275   $125,833

T9   Matt Kuchar (USA)   69   67   66   73   275   $125,833
T9   Rory McIlroy (NIR)   68   69   69   69   275   $125,833
T9   Adam Scott (Aus)      66   70   72   67   275   $125,833
T9   Steve Stricker (USA)   68   71   69   67   275   $125,833

Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only