MARANA, Ariz. — Jason Day posed with a trophy he always believed would be his when he arrived in the high desert of Arizona for the Match Play Championship.
He never could have imagined how.
Day stood over a 20-foot birdie putt to beat Victor Dubuisson on the 17th hole at Dove Mountain, a championship match that had been far from memorable to that point. When it finally ended on the 23rd hole, they delivered the wildest conclusion ever in the 16-year history this World Golf Championship.
Twice he thought Dubuisson had no shot. Twice the Frenchman delivered shots out of the desert that did not look humanly possible.
"I felt like I had a heart attack out there a couple of times," Day said. "Match play is very exciting because you just don't know what's going to happen."
The biggest flaw of the Accenture Match Play Championship is that it works in reverse. The excitement is at the start of the five-day tournament, and when the 64-man field is reduced to two finalists, the championship match rarely provides compelling theater no matter who is playing.
That all changed Sunday.
All it took was a 26-year-old Australian who played like he's ready to fulfill his talent, and a 23-year-old Frenchman who starred in defeat with two par saves in a playoff that even the great Seve Ballesteros would have applauded.
"Those two shots were amazing," Dubuisson said. "I just played it like I had nothing to lose."
By the end of a long day, so much was forgotten.
Day reached the final by holding off Rickie Fowler, who had a chance to cut the deficit to one hole with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, and instead three-putted for bogey to lose the match. Dubuisson became the third player to reach the final in his debut when he beat Ernie Els on the 18th hole. Els hit into the bunker short of the green and missed a 12-foot putt to extend the match.
There were great moments in the final match, such as Day having to lay up on the par-5 11th hole only to hit a 3-iron from 269 yards into 5 feet to match birdies with Dubuisson. Day made another great putt on No. 15 to stay 2 up. He made putts like that all week.
But this is where it turned into theater rarely seen on a Sunday at Match Play.
Day was 2 up with two to play, and Dubuisson was in a fairway bunker 174 yards from the hole. Here's how the next two hours unfolded:
— Dubuisson blasted out to 15 feet and made birdie to stay alive.
— Day three-putted from the fringe on No. 18, leaving a 10-foot par putt for the win just short, flipping his putter in disgust.
Over the next two holes, Day thought he had won. And for good reason.
Dubuisson sailed over the green on No. 1 and into the desert, the ball lodged at the base of a cholla. Day was in the bunker, a fairly simple shot, especially when CBS announcer David Feherty walked over and said the Frenchman would have to take a penalty drop.
|Chicago Cubs||0||Top 6th Inning|
|Cincinnati||8||Top 6th Inning|
|NY Mets||4||Bottom 5th Inning|
|San Diego||0||Top 5th Inning|
|San Francisco||4||Top 5th Inning|
|Texas||6||Top 5th Inning|
|Arizona||4||Bottom 6th Inning|
|LA Angels||1||Top 5th Inning|
|Los Angeles||9:05 PM|
|New Jersey||6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||7:00 PM|
|George Washington||55||2nd Half 3:45|
|Michigan State||68||2nd Half 6:55|
|Prairie View||40||2nd Half 15:52|
|Louisiana||18||1st Half 10:51|
|New Mexico||5:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Morgan State||5:00 PM|
|North Dakota||7:00 PM|
|Sam Houston St||7:30 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|New Mexico St|
|Cal Poly||9:30 PM|
|New England||0||2nd Half 15:00|
|Colorado||1||2nd Half 5:00|
|Red Bull New York||1|
|Toronto FC||2||2nd Half 44:55|
|FC Dallas||7:30 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|Fla Gulf Coast||64|
|Coll of Charleston||52||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||80|
|Seattle||67||2nd Half 0:39|
|Cal Poly||58||2nd Half 0:22|
|Illinois State||29||2nd Half|
|Holy Cross||5:00 PM|
|Southern Miss||7:00 PM|
|(22) Middle Tennessee|
|Western Ky||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|