MARANA, Ariz. – Jason Day never stopped believing he would win the Match Play Championship, even in the midst of so many shots by Victor Dubuisson that simply defied belief.
With his ball at the base of a cactus, Dubuisson took an all-or-nothing swing though the sharp needles and a TV cable and incredibly hit it to 4 feet to save par. Seemingly out of it on the next playoff hole, the 23-year-old Frenchman somehow whacked a wedge through a desert bush and rocks and onto the green for another par.
Day finally ended the madness Sunday on the 23rd hole with a pitch to 4 feet on No. 15 for birdie.
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, with his first World Golf Championship, walked away with his second PGA Tour title that will take the Australian to No. 4 in the world.
This tournament might better be remembered for Dubuisson’s magical escapes.
Two holes down with two holes to play, Dubuisson rapped in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and then took advantage of a rare lapse by Day, who bogeyed the 18th hole with a three-putt from 50 feet on the upper tier. The Frenchman saved par from the bunker to force extra holes.
It looked as if it would be over quickly.
From the first fairway, Dubuisson went so far long that bounced hard off the back of the green and into the desert, the ball nestled at the base of a cholla. He stepped up to the ball and, with nothing to lose, swung away. The club got caught on a TV cable, and the ball scooted up the slope of 3-inch grass and onto the green.
And it came with an encore.
On the next extra hole, the par-5 ninth, Dubuisson tugged his shot left of the green, left of the bleachers and into a desert bush surrounded by rocks. He took another crack at it, and the shot came out perfectly through thick grass and onto the green.
After matching bogeys and pars on the next two holes – this time from the green grass – the match ended on the 333-yard 15th hole when Dubuisson’s drive strayed too far right into side of a hill.
In the morning semifinals, Day beat Rickie Fowler 3 and 2, and Dubuisson topped Ernie Els 1 up. Fowler beat Els in 19 holes in the third-place match.