• WGC-Match Play Championship

Day survives Dubuisson magic at Match Play

ESPN staff
February 24, 2014
Jason Day secured his second PGA Tour title © Getty Images

Jason Day came through five extra holes to see off the dogged challenge of Victor Dubuisson and win the WGC Match Play in Arizona.

Dubuisson pulled off several shots that defied belief to keep himself in the contest. On the first of the two extra holes, and with his ball at the base of a cactus, Dubuisson took an all-or-nothing swing though the sharp needles and a TV cable and incredibly hit it to four feet to save par.

Seemingly out of it on the next play-off hole, the Dubuisson somehow whacked a wedge through a desert bush and rocks and onto the green for another par.

But Day finally ended the madness on Sunday on the 23rd hole with a pitch to four feet on No.15 for birdie.

It was the first time the championship match went to a play-off since the inaugural year in 1999 at La Costa, when Jeff Maggert chipped on the second extra hole of a 36-hole final.

"Those two shots were amazing," Dubuisson said. "I just played it like I had nothing to lose."

Day, with his first World Golf Championship, walked away with his second PGA Tour title that will take him to No.4 in the world.

This tournament might better be remembered for Dubuisson's magical escapes.

"Vic, man, he has a lot of guts," Day said. "He has a great short game - straight out of the cactus twice. For a 23-year-old kid, he's got a lot of game. We're going to see a lot of him for years to come."

Two holes down with two holes to play, Dubuisson rapped in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and then took advantage of a rare lapse by Day, who bogeyed the 18th hole with a three-putt from 50 feet on the upper tier. Dubuisson saved par from the bunker to force extra holes.

It looked like it would be over quickly. From the first fairway, Dubuisson went so far long that bounced hard off the back of the green and into the desert, the ball nestled at the base of a cholla cactus. During regulation, he would have taken a penalty drop. In this case, he felt he had no choice. He stepped up to the ball and, with nothing to lose, swung away. The club got caught on a TV cable, and the ball scooted up the slope of three-inch grass and onto the green.

On the next extra hole, the par-four ninth, Dubuisson tugged his shot left of the green, left of the bleachers and into a desert bush surrounded by rocks. He took another crack at it, and the shot came out perfectly through thick grass and onto the green.

Day could only laugh, though he had every reason to believe this was not his day.

"I kept shaking my head because there was a couple of time there where I thought he was absolutely dead - the tournament was mine," Day said.

After matching bogeys and pars on the next two holes - this time from the green grass - the match ended on the 333-yard 15th hole when Dubuisson's drive strayed too far right into side of a hill, leaving him an awkward pitch.

"I'm disappointed because I made some terrible shots," Dubuisson said.

Day won $1.53 million. Lost in all the drama was that he never trailed over the final 53 holes of this tournament.

Dubuisson earned $906,000, all but assuring a PGA Tour card for next year. And he all but clinched a spot on the Ryder Cup team in September, moving to the top of the points table by the equivalent of about $1.5 million.

Dubuisson only reached the championship match by rallying from three-down after six holes against Ernie Els in the morning semi-finals. He said he couldn't sleep on Saturday night, perhaps because he realised he was playing a four-time major champion.

He wound up beating Els with a par on the 18th hole to meet Day, who beat Rickie Fowler 3 and 2.

Fowler beat Els in 19 holes in the third-place match.

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