By Brian O’Hare
IN WHAT BECAME a tortuous-to-watch final of the 2014 World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play, Jason Day has emerged with the biggest win of his career.
The 26 year old looked to have it in the bag, two up with two holes to play, but some truly miraculous golf from his French opponent Victor Dubuisson saw the final go an epic 23 holes.
It was tortuous to watch, so how hard would it have been to play in. Day has been the bridesmaid so often already in the majors in his relatively short career that it appeared somehow inevitable the Aussie would again come up just short.
But that sort of thinking about Australian golf was largely blown away in so many ways by Adam Scott at Augusta National last April when all the hoodoos and accumulated bad luck stories were put to bed.
Day could only smile when Dubuisson produced two of the all-time great up and downs in a row to keep the match going on the 19th and 20th holes.
Dubuisson was literally cactus in the cactus of the Dove Mountain course in the Arizona desert twice.
In the first, the 23 year old Frenchman had overshot the green with his approach and his ball looked for all the world to be in an unplayable lie, protected by cactus, rocks and even a tv cable.
Dubuisson, who they apparently nickname “Golden Hands” because of his short game ability and whose emotionless demeanour more than matches the master in the field Jason Dufner, considered his options momentarily before just stepping up with a wedge and whacking it. You’d have to say he just “went all French” and dispensed with the technicalities and went with the feel and flair. Whatever the means, the ball emerged from all the flying plant debris, rocks, sand, tv cable etc to lob within a few feet of the hole.
A true fluke all assumed, but when he did a similar job on the next hole, probably with a bit of a lucky bounce, Day could only smile to his caddy, while everyone else was gasping.
Dubuisson had already proved the Houdini of the tournament, coming from behind in all his matches, and it seemed he would accomplish the feat again in, at least to Australian sensibilities, the cruellest way possible.
Day and the Frenchmen both hit – and missed – some memorable shots, and putts, in the closing holes but in the end it was the young Aussie who seems to have had a change of fortune.
Day’s last official tour win, which was also his first, was at the Byron Nelson in 2010. His win at the World Cup in November doesn’t count as a tour victory but putting that alongside his recent second placing at Torrey Pines and now this WGC win – ranked just below the majors – sees him finally scaling the heights that have so long been predicted for him.
Australia now has two golfers in the top 5 (Scott is at No.2) and a tremendous year of international golf to look forward to.
“For me, the biggest thing was: ‘How much do I want it.’ I kept visualising myself with the trophy last night,” Day said after winning with a birdie on the fifth extra hole.
“Looking ahead the best thing about this was every day felt like it was Sunday. I played six rounds this week and over 110 holes and just to know that you can dig down and keep fighting and not quite until it’s over is what it is all about. I wanted this so bad I don’t think I have ever wanted anything so bad in my life and definitely very pleased with it.”WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship Scoring