5 Things: Day holds up; Fowler fights; more
Monday, February 24, 2014
PHOTOS: WGC-Accenture Match Play, final day
See the action and emotion, as well as some desert scenery, from the final day of the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
A big comeback late by Victor Dubuisson carried him into the finals Sunday morning at the WGC-Accenture Match Play – and another took him to extra holes in search of the championship in the afternoon, when he put up a dramatic fight before Jason Day won in 23 holes.
Rickie Fowler had lost to Day earlier, but birdied the 19th to take third place and hand Ernie Els his second loss of the day.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the final day of play at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
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1. IT'S HIS DAY: It was a strange path to a win, indeed. Jason Day went 13 holes without a win before claiming the title on the final match's fifth playoff hole.
At the turn, Day held a 3-up lead after winning the ninth hole with a concession. From there, he ran off eight straight pars as Victor Dubuisson battled back with a couple of birdies before Day bogeyed the 18th to force a playoff.
For Day, who won the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in November in his home country of Australia, it's his first win at a PGA Tour event since the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship – and naturally has folks wondering if Day, No. 11 in the Official World Golf Ranking, could be on a path to win his first major.
"The best thing about this is that every day felt like Sunday," Day told CBS. "So it's good experience, a good way to handle your nerves."
Day said he had been eyeing this championship.
"It's, 'How much do I want it? How much do I want to win?' " Day said. "I kept saying that last night and visualizing myself with the trophy last night."
Yet he had to hold off an upstart Frenchman ranked No. 30 in the world and scrambling for pars in the playoff. Perhaps it was Dubuisson's revenge for times in the match when he saw himself with an opportunity, only to see Day eclipse it.
"Every time I had a given birdie he made his putt," Dubuisson said.
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2. FOWLER TAKES THIRD: Four birdies in the first five holes got Rickie Fowler 2 up against Ernie Els in the consolation match – and it would be the only time the two were separated by a margin of more than one.
Fowler earned his best Match Play finish in four starts, the only other time he got out of the first round being 2011 (T-9). And it was efficient: Since he finished with just one playoff hole in the consolation match, he played the fewest holes of any of Sunday's four pros.
He also carded the only eagle of the day. Beyond that, he had six birdies against three bogeys in the afternoon round to end the week on a high note of sorts
More importantly, it could be a springboard out of three straight missed cuts. His only other Sunday finish since the new year was a T-33 at the Humana Challenge in January.
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3. DUBUISSON OPENS EYES: His last name loosely translating to "son of a woodcutter," Victor Dubuisson lived up to his etymology – and his Twitter handle, @vdubush, by making pars from lies amid desert shrubs at the first and second playoff holes.
After the second recovery shot found the green for a makeable putt, Day could only smile and subtly shake his head.
"He’s got a great short game, to go at it straight out of the cactus twice," Day said. "And for a 23-year-old kid, I know he was the No. 1 amateur back in 2009, but he’s got a lot of game, and you’re going to see a lot of him in years to come."
Dubuisson had earned his first European Tour win at the Turkish Open in November – and nearly claimed his first PGA Tour win Sunday. But his greenside luck ran out at the fifth playoff hole, the drivable par-4 15th hole, where his tee shot found some deep rough.
"Here, I just hit it exactly where I wanted, but it took a bad bounce," Dubuisson said.
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4. ELS' DAY TO FORGET: Through seven holes in the semifinal, Ernie Els was 3 up against Victor Dubuisson. And through 12 holes in the consolation match, he was 2 up against Rickie Fowler.
Neither time did Els win. In fact, neither time after either match was squared (at the 11th against Dubuisson and the 14th against Fowler) did Els lead.
Els had held off would-be comebacks from Jason Dufner and Justin Rose earlier in the week. So it's not like the four-time major winner can't get the job done. In fact, in each match Els trailed and squared the match before birdies beat him.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Some of the attention will now turn to where the WGC Match Play ends up next year; Accenture's sponsorship has ended with the conclusion of the 2014 tournament. . . . Dubuisson was the only first-timer out of 19 this week to reach play Sunday. . . . At 26 years, 3 months, 11 days, Day becomes the fifth youngest player to win a WGC event – the four ahead of him all spelled "Tiger Woods." . . . Els is 16-16 career in the Match Play.