MARANA, Az — Here’s a recap of the Day 5 semifinal and final matches at the WGC-Accenture, played at Dove Mountain.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Jason Day defeated Victor Dubuisson, 1-up, 23rd hole
Recap: Day never trailed in the hard-fought championship match as he ran his Accenture record to 14-3 and won for the second time in his career. The victory was the second-seeded Day’s first in a World Golf Championships and made the 26-year-old, who finished third at Dove Mountain a year ago, the tournament’s youngest winner.
Day gained a measure of control early with a spurt that began at No. 6 as Dubuisson, who said he only slept an hour Saturday night, missed a 6-footer to save par. Day then went 2 up with a 19-footer for birdie at the seventh hole and won the ninth with a concession after Dubuisson hit his approach left of the grandstand, dropped against a rock and opted not to hit his third shot. The resilient Dubuisson, bidding to become the first man from France to win on the PGA Tour, got one back at the par-5 13th when he chipped to 18 inches and Day couldn’t convert his 24-footer. Dubuisson drove the green at the par-4 15th while Day went long and right in the rough. The Frenchman putted first to 22 inches and Day conceded the putt. Day then chipped 11 feet past the hole but made the putt to halve and take the 2-up lead to the 16th. Pars there were good for another halve after Day missed from 35 feet and Dubuisson from 33 so they headed to the 17th dormie. Dubuisson drove into the bunker in the center of the fairway but put his approach 13 feet from the flagstick while Day, who was in the right rough, was 20 feet away in two. Day missed but Dubuisson made his so it was off to the 18th hole where the Frenchman faced a must-win situation to extend the match. Day left the door open, too, when he hit his approach to the back of the green, some 69 feet from the flag but Dubuisson found the deep right greenside bunker. Day was away and putted first, his ball stopping 9 feet past the hole, while Dubuisson’s bunker shot fed down within 4. Day left his putt two revolutions short and tossed his putter in the air in frustration before Dubuisson made his putt to summon up overtime for the first time ever in an 18-hole Accenture championship match.
Sudden death: Neither player hit good approaches at the first extra hole — Dubuisson’s ball going over the green and landing in the brush beside a sagauro cactus while Day’s veered left into the bunker. The Frenchman hit a great recovery to 4 feet while Day blasted 10 feet by. When both holed their putts, it was off to the 20th hole. Day’s approach went through the green to the back fringe while Dubuisson went left of the grandstand into the desert for the second time Sunday. His ball was between some dead branches and Dubuisson took a swat — sending the ball 7 feet below the flagstick and leaving Day shaking his head in amazement. After the Aussie putted from 20 to a foot, Dubuisson calmly made his par to extend the match. Both players came up short of the green at the third extra hole, Dubuisson landing in the closely mown area and Day in the sand to the left. He hit first to 9 feet while Dubuisson’s pitch went 12 feet past the hole. When he missed, it was all up to Day but he couldn’t convert and the two headed to the 22nd hole. This time Day’s approach slid back off the green but he chipped close enough that Dubuisson gave him the putt. The Frenchman was 21 feet above the hole and barely missed the putt that would have ended the match so it was off to the driveable 15th, the 23rd of the match. Both players hit their drives to the right of the green. Dubuisson chipped long, though, and his Houdini touch deserted him on the 32-footer for birdie. When Day buried his 4-footer he had the win.
Day’s victory vaulted him to 11th in the FedExCup standings. Dubuisson, who equaled the highest finish ever by a Frenchman on the PGA Tour, now has enough FedExCup points as a non-member to join as a Special Temporary Member for the rest of the year. That allows him to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions if he decides to take up membership.
SEMIFINALS: Rickie Fowler defeated Ernie Els, 1-up, 19th hole
Recap: Fowler, who came in seeded 14th, stopped a string of three straight missed cuts in a big way when he finished third at Dove Mountain. Fowler’s Accenture record improved to 7-4 with the win over the 44-year-old Els, who played like he’d found the Fountain of Youth in lasting six matches this week. The 25-year-old Fowler and Els traded wins at Nos. 2 and 3 but the American won the fourth with a birdie and went 2 up at the fifth when Els made bogey. The World Golf Hall of Famer got one back when he made an 11-footer at the sixth hole and the two halved the next three to go to the back nine with Fowler leading 1 up. Els squared the match when Fowler missed a 5-footer to save par at No. 10 and won the next two holes with a birdie and a par. But Fowler won the par-5 13th when he nearly holed his approach and ended up with a tap-in eagle and the 14th when Els couldn’t get up and down from the greenside bunker. The two halved the driveable 15th with tap-in birdies and the 16th with pars. Fowler then regained a 1-up lead when he made a 12-footer for birdie at No. 17 but Els had one last gasp. He took advantage, too, making an 8-footer to send the match into extra holes after Fowler missed from 12. Fowler, though, won the match when he made a 7-footer after Els put his approach in the rough over the green. Els, who came in seeded eighth, now has a 17-15 Accenture record.
Quotable: “(It was a) great week,” Fowler said. “I had obviously some great wins over a lot of great players, and lost to Jason, would have been nice to get that one. … Ernie was tough this afternoon. I know he hadn’t been putting up the scores this week. Today he came out and played pretty solidly.”