Jason Day has emerged victorious after a titanic battle to claim the World Golf Championship Match Play title, his biggest trophy to date.
The 26-year-old Queenslander was forced into a surprisingly drawn-out play-off before subduing determined Frenchman Victor Dubuisson.
He finally triumphed with a birdie at the 23rd hole at the Dove Mountain course in Arizona.
The win has rocketed Day up the standings and comes on top of his victory in last year’s World Cup at Royal Melbourne. It also allowed him to bank a pay check of $A1.7 million and gave him a three-year exemption on the US PGA Tour.
His success has moved Day to a likely No.4 in the world behind only No.1 Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson and has given him a significant psychological boost with the US Masters looming.
Day said after his win that he had been determined to take the crown.
"I think the biggest thing was, just how much do I want it, how much I want to win?" Day said.
"I kept visualising myself with the trophy last night. I’ve never wanted something so bad in my life."
The Australian had moved to a lead of three up through 12 holes but world No.30 Dubuisson battled back to eventually square the match after regulation play.
He then proceeded to produce two unlikely recovery shots from difficult, rocky lies on the 19th and 20th holes before finally surrendering after Day holed a metre long putt for birdie on the 23rd hole.
Despite his lofty ranking, the win was only Day’s second in nearly four years on the US PGA Tour, after he broke through to collect the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship.
He has, though, in recent years contended consistently in majors and was runner-up in the 2011 Masters, the 2011 US Open and last year’s US Open.
"I am just glad I could finish this off but it was a close one," Day said.
"The best thing about this (event) was every day felt like a Sunday and you got the chance to deal with your nerves.
"I had to dig down deep and keep fighting and I’m thrilled to pull it off."
Day had earlier eliminated young American star Ricky Fowler three-up in their semi-final while Dubuisson beat Ernie Els in the other semi-final.
But in the deciding match he allowed his French opponent to cling on to hope when he missed putts on the 17th, 18th and 21st holes which would have clinched the title earlier.
Day three-putted the 18th while Dubuisson played a brilliant shot from under cactus on the first extra hole and repeated the feat from the desert on the next to stay in contention before finally giving in.
Meanwhile, this Match Play may be the last event to be staged in its present format after sponsor Accenture ended its sponsorship.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said he hoped there would be a decision by April on the future of the Championship.
Accenture’s sponsorship agreement ends this year, and there has been speculation that the tournament might move to another venue or that there could be a change in the match play format.
"We’re looking at a lot of different options, talking to a lot of different potential sponsors, including Accenture," Finchem said. "So I wouldn’t rule out anything at this point. We haven’t moved in any one direction. We don’t have any particular agenda.
"We’re just looking at all the opportunities that are out there, and my guess is it’s going to be several weeks before we settle on it."
Finchem, who said the location of the event didn’t hinge on the identity of the title sponsor, did not rule out returning to Tucson. He also said that other venues are being considered — although likely not in a market where the PGA TOUR already stages a golf tournament.
"I’m not saying we wouldn’t do it, but that wouldn’t be a priority," he said.
A move outside the United States is another "possibility," Finchem said. The last time the Accenture Match Play Championship was contested outside the United States was in 2001 at Royal Melbourne.
By: Robert Grant