Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson battled out a truly epic WGC Match Play final in Phoenix.
Jason Day has won a truly epic 2014 WGC Accenture Match Play. Day outlasted Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in 23 holes to capture the biggest win of his career and jump to fourth place in the world golf rankings.
Day defeated good friend Rickie Fowler 3&2 in the morning’s semi-final to advance to the final. Dubuisson managed to eke out a 1up victory over Ernie Els to take his place in the final which will not only be remembered for Day’s biggest career victory, but for Dubuisson’s heroics around the greens.
Day looked set for an easy victory when Dubuisson conceded the ninth hole and went 3up. Day was still 3up as both players made their way to the 12th hole when the Australian lipped out a birdie putt which would have given him a commanding four hole lead.
But match play is a strange and wonderful beast and Dubuisson was about to fight his way back.
A birdie at the par-5 13th hole gave the Frenchman some hope before he gave a masterclass from the sand on the 17th and 18th holes to force the match into extra time.
The fairway bunkers aren’t exactly the hazardous locations they probably should be at Dove Mountain GC, but Dubuisson’s fairway bunker shot on the 17th hole was special. He routinely sunk the 12-foot putt for birdie to send the match to the 18th hole. He then played an incredible shot to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the 18th that won him the hole after Day made bogey.
In a clear case for the not overusing superlatives, the best shots from Dubuisson was yet to come and it was worth keeping some in the bank.
At the first extra playoff hole, Dubuisson’s approach shot sailed the green and he found himself against a cactus. With his chances of victory looking cactus, VDub took little time to assess the situation and somehow sent the ball scurrying to within four feet of the hole and make one of the truly great par’s of all-time.
Not content with one Houdini-like escape, Dubuisson left Day laughing when he produced another miracle shot from the cactus on the following hole. Day once again halved with a par and it wasn’t until Dubuisson was faced with a few relatively easy chip shots from the short stuff that he began to show his nerve.
The epic battle finally ended at the 23rd hole when Day made birdie after Dubuisson had missed his long birdie attempt. Day claimed the biggest victory (and paycheck) of his career and golf fans had just been treated to one of the all-time great matches. Long live match play!
Make no mistake, this was not a flash in the pan event for Dubuisson. The 23-year-old Frenchman was sitting at 30th in the world prior to the event thanks largely to his superb victory at the Turkish Open last year. He almost chased down Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai the week after and at just 23 years of age, Dubuisson is one to keep a close eye on.
Jason Day’s victory was his second in four starts, beginning at last year’s World Cup at Royal Melbourne. Given the miracle recovery shots that Dubuisson was making, the mental toughness that Day showed bodes well for the coming majors beginning with The Masters in April.
Australia now has two players inside the world’s top-4 ranked golfers. Is there another green jacket beckoning in six weeks?