Jason Day never stopped believing he would win the WGC 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 within four 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 onto the green for another par.
Day finally ended the madness on Sunday on the 23rd hole with a pitch to within four feet on 15 for a 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. That was like watching paint dry compared with the show Dubuisson put on.
Day, with his first World Golf Championship, walked away with his second PGA Tour title that took the Australian to No. 4 in the world.
However, the tournament might be better remembered for Dubuisson’s magical escapes.
“Vic, man, he has a lot of guts,” Day said. “He has a great short game — straight out of the cactus twice. For a 23-year-old kid, he’s got a lot of game. We’re going to see a lot of him for years to come.”
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 the extra holes.
It looked like it would be over quickly.
From the first fairway, Dubuisson went so far long that his ball bounced hard off the back of the green and into the desert, nestling at the base of a cholla.
During regulation he would have taken a penalty drop. In this case, he felt he had no choice. 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 grass and onto the green.
On the next extra hole, the par-five 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.
Day could only laugh, though he had every reason to believe it was not his day.
After matching bogeys and pars on the next two holes, the match ended on the 15th when Dubuisson’s drive strayed too far right into side of a hill.
In the morning semi-finals, Day beat Rickie Fowler 3 and 2, while Dubuisson topped Ernie Els 1 up. Fowler beat Els in 19 holes in the third-place playoff.