Jason Day beat Louis Oosthuizen 5&4 in the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship final to win the title for the second time in three years. This was after Day outlasted Rory McIlroy in a tough battle in the morning semifinals by making a 12-footer for par on the 18th hole.
Day also reclaimed the throne as world no. 1 on Saturday after Jordan Spieth lost in round 4 and Day won his quarterfinal match in the afternoon. Although it would have been sweet to ascend to no 1, Day would have felt a bit empty if he hadn’t left Austin with the trophy, as well.
As you may recall, Day nearly withdrew from the Match Play on Thursday with a tweaked back, but toughed it out and stayed in the tourney. Well, good thing he did.
“It’s been a memorable week, not only to win the Dell Match Play but to get back to No. 1 in the world,” Day said.
Some random facts and figures:
Oosthuizen reached the green with his 375-yard drive on the opening hole and 3-putted for the win as Day made a bogey. After conceding the third hole, where he took a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie, Oosthuizen lost the fourth to a Day birdie. Oosthuizen also lost the seventh hole when he 3-putted from the apron. Day went 3 up with a birdie at the ninth. At the 12th, Oosthuizen escaped with a halved hole despite rinsing his second shot in the hazard. Day closed out the match with consecutive birdies at 13 and 14 to win, 5 and 4.
Day’s path to the Championship Match
G1 defeated Graeme McDowell (62), 3 and 2;
G2 defeated Thongchai Jaidee (36), 5 and 3
G3 defeated Paul Casey (23), concession
R4 defeated Brandt Snedeker (15), 3 and 2
QF defeated Brooks Koepka (18), 3 and 2
SF defeated Rory McIlroy (3), 1 up
Final: defeated Louis Oosthuizen (16), 5 and 4
Day has back-to-back wins on the PGA TOUR following his win at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. The last winner in consecutive weeks on the PGA TOUR was fellow Australian Adam Scott at The Honda Classic and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship earlier this year. Day won consecutive starts last year at the PGA Championship and The Barclays, however, he did not compete in the Wyndham Championship scheduled between those two victories.
Day’s ninth PGA TOUR win came at the age of 28 years, 4 months and 15 days in his 177th PGA TOUR start. He has 50 career top-10 finishes and surpassed $30,000,000 in PGA TOUR career earnings with his win at the Dell Match Play.
Day’s nine PGA TOUR victories: 2010 AT&T Byron Nelson, 2014 World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, 2015 Farmers Insurance Open, RBC Canadian Open, PGA Championship, The Barclays, BMW Championship, 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational, 2016 World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play.
Day is the third multiple winner of the Dell Match Play. Tiger Woods won the Dell Match Play in 2003, 2004 and 2008 while Day’s fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy was victorious in 2006 and 2009.
Day is now one of 11 players with at least two career World Golf Championships victories. Players with multiple World Golf Championships wins include Tiger Woods (18), Geoff Ogilvy (3), Jason Day (2), Rory McIlroy (2), Darren Clarke (2), Ernie Els (2), Hunter Mahan (2), Phil Mickelson (2), Ian Poulter (2), Dustin Johnson (2) and Adam Scott (2).
“I’m very, very pleased to be the champion again. It was an interesting week, to say the least. I wasn’t even thinking about playing on Thursday after tweaking my back on Wednesday, then getting to World Number One on Saturday and then winning on Sunday. It was a very, very strange week, but I’m glad to gut it through and get the win. All week I’ve been getting therapy before my rounds, after my rounds, in between my rounds, trying to make sure that I’m just relaxing everything that I can through my back to get that locking feeling out of my system.
“I think the morning’s round was probably one of the hardest rounds I’ve had to go through in match play format, to try to get through. Rory was difficult because from tee to green he doesn’t miss any shots. Even if he does miss one slightly, he’s always back on top of it and hitting a great shot the next time. But I think if he had holed a few more putts early on, it would have been very difficult to catch him.”
“Up against a guy like Jason, you need to play well. I played okay but nothing spectacular. I hit the shots I wanted to and I hit the ball really well, but I couldn’t buy a putt. He’s a great player. He hit some amazing iron shots and made some amazing up and downs. He’s definitely a few steps ahead of everyone else at the moment. There was never really a turning point, I feel. I was sort of playing catch-up the whole time because I didn’t really put any pressure on him by making birdies. He always had the birdie putt for the win, and he’s a great putter.
“There are a lot of positives to take away from the week though, and I’m feeling very confident for Houston next week and the Masters the week after.”
Rafa Cabrera Bello
“I’m very happy with the way I played. I had to play really good golf to beat Rory. He’s such a good player, I’m just really pleased and honoured. This morning I didn’t quite have my A game on the greens, I was maybe not quite so loose and made a few mistakes. I had a couple of opportunities to fight back, but I just didn’t get the ball in the hole. But this afternoon it hasn’t been like that. I played really solid, really well from tee to green. And the putter has worked better, as well. I rolled some putts in and I think that’s what made the difference.
“I really haven’t thought much about the Masters yet – I’ve been trying to focus on the matches today – but I’m sure tonight it will start to sink in and I’ll have a big smile on my face. It’s really the reason I wanted to turn pro, watching Olazábal win the Masters, so it is going to be very special for me.”
“The quality of the match with Jason was really good. I think the only mistake between us was made on the second hole when he went into the hazard. Apart from that, there were no bogeys. I didn’t birdie the 12th or 13th and that’s what cost me the match. That was a really big swing in the match. Jason didn’t give me anything – he played very solid. I’m disappointed with the outcome, but I feel like I’m really happy with where my game is. There are lots of positives to take from this week.”
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)