Jason Day wins Match Play Championship, beating Victor Dubuisson on fifth extra hole
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MARANA, Ariz. - The Frenchman who not many knew kept pulling off shots that few could believe, saving pars out of the desert. But in the end it was Jason Day, the Aussie, who ended up the winner on what was one of golf's longest days.
Three holes ahead with only six to play, Day had to make a birdie putt on the 23rd hole Sunday to defeat Victor Dubuisson, 1 up, and take the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.
"I didn't want it to go this long," said Day, who at 26 may have broken through in his quest to reach the upper echelon of golf. "It was a long day in the sun."
Especially since both finalists had to win semifinals in the morning at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain, the course that snakes through cacti north of Tucson.
Day had beaten Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2, in one semi, while Dubuisson edged 44-year-old Ernie Els 1 up.
Day, who's been on the PGA Tour since 2008, was what the British call a "nearly man." He had second-place finishes in two U.S. Opens (including 2013) and a second and third in the Masters.
But until the Accenture his only Tour win was the 2010 Byron Nelson in Dallas.
"The best thing about this," said Day, who earned $1.53 million, "is that in match play every day is Sunday."
What he meant was there's pressure from start to finish. Day had played 113 holes in six matches starting Wednesday, 39 of them Sunday.
Dubuisson, 23, who won $906,000, stayed alive with miracle shots out of sagebrush and cactus on the 19th and 20th holes, when his tee balls flew deep into the desert. Somehow he got the ball onto the green at both holes (the first and ninth on the card) and one-putted.
"I made some terrible swings," Dubuisson said. "He made some big putts."
Day never trailed in the match. After Dubuisson hit into the desert on the ninth hole and conceded, Day had a 3-up lead. The score stayed that way through 12, and Day still was 2 up with two to play. But Dubuisson birdied 17 and Day bogeyed 18, and it went to overtime.
Day's victory moves him up to No. 4 in the world rankings, only two places below countryman Adam Scott, who, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, didn't enter here.