WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

All in a Day's work: Australian wins Match Play after 23 holes

2014-02-24T00:00:00Z All in a Day's work: Australian wins Match Play after 23 holesBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Call it Dove Mountain’s final stand.

Or its final, final, final, final — final stand.

In a championship match that had everything, Australian Jason Day outlasted Victor Dubuisson of France in 23 holes to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Sunday at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day closed out Dubuisson on the fifth playoff hole, holding off several amazing charges from the Frenchman to win possibly the last Match Play title here as officials decide whether to move the tourney after eight years in Marana.

It was a win Day dreamed about.

“I tried to visualize myself with the Walter Hagen Cup last night and just said ‘how much do you want it?’” said Day, who earned $1.53 million for the win. “I kept on telling myself I want it more than anything in the world and I wasn’t going to stop until I achieved that.

“I just stuck through it.”

It looked like Day was going to claim the Hagen Cup with minimal theater.

He led by two with two holes to play and had a chance to win the match with a birdie putt on No. 16. Instead, he missed and Dubuisson birdied No. 17 to close the deficit to one heading to the 18th. There, Dubuisson knocked in a 4-foot par putt and watched as Day missed his par to register a bogey.

All square through 18, the two headed to extra holes. There, the setup for dramatics began.

On the first playoff hole, Dubuisson, 23, hit his second shot past the green into the desert. His ball landed at the foot of a jumping cholla and he had 88 feet to the hole. It looked like his lie was going to be unplayable and he’d have to take a drop and a stroke penalty.

CBS analyst David “Feherty walked past and goes, ‘he’s got an unplayable’ and I’m going ‘oh great, that’s perfect,’ ” Day relayed.

Instead, Dubuisson gave it a whack and his swing took off a branch of the cholla and, on the followthrough, hit a TV cable as the ball somehow landed 4 feet from the pin.

The two halved the hole.

“After we both walked off the green, (Feherty) looked at me and he goes ‘sorry’ and I’m just like ‘yeah, thanks, man,’ ” Day said laughing.

Day and Dubuisson then headed to the second playoff hole on No. 9 and there it was déjà vu.

Dubuisson’s second shot again landed in the desert, to the left of the green. The ball was stuck in the bottom of a bush and this time the golfer, whose last name means “from the bush” in French, landed it 7 feet from the pin.

Never has a translation been so appropriate.

“It looked absolutely dead,” said Day, who beat Rickie Fowler in the semifinals in the morning. “I hit an 8-iron to 20 feet and there was so much pressure on him and he does it again. At that time you’re just thinking like ‘do I need to just hand him the trophy now after those two shots?’

“But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to win so bad and there was nothing that was going to stop me.”

Day again matched Dubuisson with a par and the duo played on.

“Those two shots were amazing,” Dubuisson said. “I just played it like I had nothing to lose. I learned that my nerves can be very solid in a difficult situation. I learned that anything can happen.”

Amen.

The two halved the next two holes with a par and a bogey.

Finally, on No. 15, the 23rd hole of the match and the fifth playoff hole, the two found a resolution.

A 333-yard par-4, both Dubuisson and Day launched drives that landed near the green. Dubuisson’s landed 74 feet from the hole in the rough, right of the pin. His second shot landed on the green, but 31 feet away.

Day’s drive went a bit farther, landing 52 feet from the pin in a clear lie. His second was brilliant and he landed it just 4 feet from the hole. Dubuisson gave him the freebie and then missed his birdie putt to give Day the thrilling win.

“When he hit his drive in the rough there, he said under his breath, ‘dead,’ ” Day said. “And once I saw it, I knew he wasn’t going to make birdie. So I just had to get off a good tee shot somewhere around the pin there and not in a similar position where he was.

“It almost did, but it actually got a little lucky and stayed up.”

The competitive Day, built for match play competition, upped his career mark at Dove Mountain to 14-3. After reaching the third round in 2011 and finishing third last year, the 26-year-old finally finished the job on Sunday.

The win is Day’s second of his career and first since 2010. He won the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship by two strokes.

Ranked No. 11 in the world entering Sunday, Day has been close before, but hasn’t had much time in the winner’s circle.

He finished third at last year’s Masters and tied for second at the U.S. Open. He also had a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship, finishing eighth.

“In golf you have to choke some and hopefully you win more than choke some,” said Day, who is expected to be No. 4 in the world rankings, when they are updated this morning. “It’s exciting that I actually got the job done. I know that I can play well against the best players in the world.

“Right now, I’ve just got to soak in the win.”

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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