Day Survives 5 Days in the Desert
Just call him Jason "All" Day. Aussie Jason Day outlasted an unbelievably resilient Victor Dubuisson in the finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, draining one last 4-footer on the 23rd hole of the grueling final match at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., to earn his second career PGA Tour win. Finally, a player known for appearing on major leaderboards but disappearing for the rest of the year can add a prestigious championship to his resume, a win that will propel him near the top of Masters favorites.
But Day had to earn it. Dubuisson, a 23-year-old Frenchman who was a virtual unknown to American audiences, all but clinched a spot on the European Ryder Cup team with an astonishing display of Houdini-level escape artistry. Two holes down with two to play, Dubuisson rallied, winning the final two holes with a birdie at 17 and a Day 3-putt at 18. On the first playoff hole, Dubuisson pulled off his first Great Escape, getting up and down out of the prickly cactus. On the second extra hole, he did himself one better, playing his ball from a bush and earning another impossible par.
"Vic coming down the stretch was just unbelievable," Day said. "I've never seen someone as young, apart from Jordan Spieth, and in the old days Tiger Woods, how clutch he was, especially out of the cactus. I kept shaking my head because it was so surprising because there was a couple of times there where I thought he was absolutely dead. The tournament was mine."
Ultimately, the tournament was Day's, and those final dramatic holes were the culmination of an impressive week of match play artistry from a litany of players who seemed determined to reward viewers for their loyalty given the absence of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott. Those who did tune in were rewarded with some of the most stomach-churning golf in recent memory.
Here are the key stats from five days in the desert.
89 Jason Day put on a clinic on how to survive in match play. Of the 36 greens he missed, he saved par 32 times, a staggering conversion rate of 89 percent. The PGA Tour leader converted 66 percent of the time in 2013.
26 At 26 years, 3 months, Day became the youngest-ever winner of the Accenture Match Play. Tiger Woods was 27 when he won in 2003.
0 Graeme McDowell, who reached the round of eight in the Match Play, won his first three matches without ever holding a lead until the final putt dropped. McDowell rallied to beat Gary Woodland in 19 holes, caught Hideki Matsuyama and beat him on the 18th hole, and rallied to beat Hunter Mahan in 21 holes. At no point in any of those matches did he stand on a tee with a lead.
72 Day had played 72 PGA Tour events since his previous win, the 2010 Byron Nelson Classic. The 26-year-old Day wasn't panicking that the wins weren't coming. "A career is very long in golf,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for myself is just to understand I’m not Rory. I’m not Tiger. I’m not Adam Scott. I’m not Justin Rose. I’m Jason Day. I need to do the work and it will happen. I’ve just got to be patient."\
2 Victor Dubuisson's second-place finish matches the best-ever finish by a French player in a PGA Tour event, joining Jean Van de Velde, Thomas Levet and Gregory Havret.
Players are fans, too, and they loved what they saw on Sunday. Here's a sample of some of the tweets that were flying across the twittersphere.
Tom Watson — Two of the greatest up-and/downs I have ever seen Victor!!!
Enjoy the video of Dubuisson's two remarkable par saves.