It was a special day out on Royal Melbourne Golf Course today for the final round of the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf. Overnight leader of the individual component Jason Day held off Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (-8) and teammate Adam Scott (-7) who was the hot man on course to win by two shots with a one-under 70, finishing at -10.
The combination of Day and Scott finished the team's event at a staggering -17 which included a five-under 66 final round for Scott who was outstanding in fighting back from an opening round 75 to finish third overall at seven-under par. The closest any other team could get to the Aussies were the Americans who finished -7. The only other two teams under par were the gallant Japanese (-5) team and Denmark (-5) whose team comprised of individual runner-up Bjorn who was rock solid all week.
Having played himself into the lead with a third round 66 on Saturday, Day began his campaign to lift the individual World Cup trophy with a bogey five on the first but his playing partner Bjorn would also faulter with a bogey leaving Day still with a one shot advantage. The nerves would settle in the next few holes for Day, picking up birdies on the 3rd and 4th to move to -10. Bjorn kept up the pace Day was setting, with birdies on both front nine par three's (3 & 5).
Bjorn bogeys at 6 & 7 meant the 42 year old would make the turn at one-over and -7 overall, whilst Day moved clear at -11 after a sensational hole out eagle on the par four 6th, with Scott pushing from third. The 10th hole would provide more drama when Day took a double-bogey to move back to -9 and a birdie for Bjorn at the 11th saw four shots snapped to one in the blink of an eye.
A sensational approach to the 13th green helped Bjorn make birdie and tie Day at -9 with Scott just one back at -8 having picked up a shot on the tough 16th a few groups ahead. The arm wrestle continued on the 14th with a pair of pars before Bjorn took the upperhand on the par five 15th as he landed his second on the green whilst Day missed in the far right sand trap. Day played a spectacular bunker shot to around four feet and would match Bjorn's birdie as both players pushed out to -10, two clear of Scott.
The 16th hole is one of the toughest holes on the course and tested Bjorn and Day. Bjorn hit a wayward tee shot into deep trouble on the right hand side whilst Day nailed one up the middle. Having to chip out, Bjorn would make a bogey five whilst Day found trouble with his approach and had to make a clutch up and down from the left bunker to save par and move into the outright lead.
Both players hit great approaches into 17 but Day pushed his first putt a few feet past the hole and again had a tester for par, which he was up for the challenge. Bjorn narrowly missed his birdie attempt and would tap in for par to remain a shot behind with the final hole remaining. Needing to make a birdie, Bjorn took aim at the back right pin location but played a poor shot, finding the right hand sand. Day's approach to the 18th green was near perfect and left him with two putts barring a Bjorn hole out from the sand. Bjorn would take two shots to get out and Day would tap in for par to win by two as Bjorn dropped back to eight-under.
With Scott third at -7, the next best individual was American Matt Kuchar at -6. Following Kuchar at three-under were Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.
Speaking in the press conference, Day was all smiles about his double win.
"I know Scotty said I carried him all week but he gave me a scare on the front nine, he was playing great. It feels great, I really don't know what to think now. All the hard work and dedication, and taking it serious. It's taken me a while to win my second big tournament. I had a lot of fun. Today I learnt a lot about myself and I'm going to embrace being a World Cup winner tonight," said Day.
Asked about winning after the tradegy of the Philippines where his family lost lives, Day added, "To let them see me play some good golf and not give up is very special. I'm just happy she [Mum] is here and I get to hug her."
"I had to stay patient, I played good coming in. That 16th hole was tough, that bunker shot was crucial to make up and down. It's an unbelievably hard golf hole."
On what it will do for his career moving forwards, Day responded, "To know that I finished it. To have a one shot lead going into Sunday. To stay patient and commit to my shots in a round where there were ups and downs is a very big move in my golf career. To finish the way I did on this golf course is very special. I'm just so happy that the hard work is paying off, I'm glad it happened in Melbourne in front of a great sporting town here."
Scott played the last three rounds in -11 after a rough start on day one due to an unlikely five-over 9 on the par four 12th. Scott sat alongside Day in the press conference, weighing in on today's final round and the thrill to win the team World Cup.
"I wanted Australia to win this World Cup so badly. I can't think Jase [Day] enough for playing so well. I kind of crawled along. Today I put myself in a position but I didn't get it up and down on 15 [to make birdie] and the three putt on 18 cost me. Maybe I could have pushed Jase and Thomas [Bjorn] a little more," said Scott.
Scott was probably a little hard on himself considering he was the low man in a tough day's conditions. It marks the end of two consecutive week's the World No.2 has played Royal Melbourne, shooting a combined -21 from the Talisker Masters and ISPS Handa World Cup.
"It's going to be weird to not wake up and drive to Royal Melbourne after the last few weeks."
Scott added on the topic of golf in Australia, "As I've spoke about many times over the past few weeks being back home, it's about momentum and this adds to that, and hopefully with this win today it keeps golf on the minds of kids and people playing and wanting to take up the game. Our job is to play good golf."
Both Day & Scott will now make the trip to Royal Sydney next week for the Emirates Australian Open which will also feature former World No.1 Rory McIlroy. The defending champion is Peter Senior.