Day captures Match Play title

News servicesFebruary 24, 2014 

Australia’s Jason Day celebrates after making a birdie putt on the fifth extra hole to beat Victor Dubuisson on Sunday in the Match Play Championship final in Marana, Ariz.

ALLAN HENRY/USA TODAY SPORTS

One shot came out of bottom of a cactus, the other from the base of a desert bush with rocks scattered around it.

Both times, Jason Day felt the Match Play Championship was his to win Sunday. And both times, he watched Victor Dubuisson turn the impossible into pars in the wildest conclusion ever to a tournament that is unpredictable even in normal circumstances.

“At that time, you’re just thinking, ‘Do I need to just hand him the trophy now after those two shots?’ ” Day said in Marana, Ariz.

Dubuisson finally ran out of magic.

Day ended the madness at Dove Mountain on the fifth extra hole when he pitched over a mound to 4 feet and made birdie, a sigh of relief as much as it was cause for celebration at capturing his first World Golf Championship.

“I kept shaking my head because there was a couple of times there where I thought he was absolutely dead — the tournament was mine,” Day said.

It was remarkable enough when the 23-year-old Frenchman stood in a fairway bunker on the 17th hole, 174 yards away and needing to win the last two holes to force overtime. He did just that with a 15-foot birdie and a par save from the bunker.

And then came back-to-back pars that defied belief.

Dubuisson sailed over the green on No. 1 and into the desert, the ball lodged at the base of a cholla.

With an all-or-nothing swing, Dubuisson whacked his 9-iron through the sharp needs and into a TV cable. The ball scooted up a hill covered by 3-inch rough and onto the green to 4 feet below the hole. He made par to keep going.

From the ninth fairway, Dubuisson pulled his approach left of the green, left of the bleacher and into the desert at the bottom of a bush.

“I walked over there, and it was in a tree, a flower tree of some sort, in this little crevice. I mean, it looked absolutely dead,” Day said. “I’m like, ‘Yes.’ I hit 8-iron into 20 feet. There was so much pressure on him. And he does it again.”

After halving the next two holes with bogeys and pars, Day watched his opponent hit driver on the 333-yard 15th hole too far too the right.

And he heard the Frenchman say under his breath, “Dead.”

He was only in the grass, but Day knew better. The chip was almost impossible to get close. Day was 20 feet closer, in shorter grass, and pitched to 4 feet. Dubuisson hit his flop shot 30 feet past the hole and missed the birdie putt.

“I’m disappointed because I made some terrible shots,” he said.

Day won for the second time on the PGA Tour and rose to a career-best No. 4 in the world.

It was the first time the championship match went overtime since the inaugural year in 1999 at La Costa, when Jeff Maggert chipped on the second extra hole of a 36-hole final.

Day won $1.53 million.

BETHEL GRADUATE SHINES IN SYMETRA TOUR OPENER

LPGA Tour player Alena Sharp won the Symetra Tour’s season-opening Visit Mesa Gateway Classic, beating Marissa Steen by two strokes in Mesa, Ariz.

Sadena Parks, a former University of Washington player and a 2008 graduate of Bethel High School, finished in a four-way tie for third at 9-under after shooting a 4-under 68.

Sharp, a 32-year-old Canadian, closed with a 71 for a 12-under 204 total at Longbow Golf Club.

ELSEWHERE

Anna Nordqvist won the LPGA Thailand in Chonburi to end a five-year victory drought, holding off top-ranked Inbee Park at Siam Country Club. Nordqvist, the LPGA Championship and LPGA Tour Championship winner in 2009, closed with a 4-under 68 to beat defending champion Park by two strokes. ... Seventeen-year-old amateur Minjee Lee won the Victorian Open in Melbourne, Australia, by six strokes for her first victory in a professional event. Lee closed with a 6-under 68 to finish at 16-under 279.

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