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19th Hole

Looking back at the extraordinary 2014 WGC-Match Play final: Day vs Dubuisson

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Though we may be missing what was scheduled to be the 2020 WGC-Match Play this week, it seems like as good a time as any to delve into the vault and look back on a classic Match Play final.

Here I’ll take you back to what was one of the most memorable finals in recent history between Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson.

Day (26) had been tipped for greatness throughout his young career and had raced effortlessly to the final in the desert.

Less was known about Dubuisson (23). Despite a win a few months earlier at the Turkish Airlines Open, the Frenchman had appeared previously just three times stateside, failing to make much of an impression.

The Match

Dove Mountain, Arizona was the setting, and by the 13th hole, the match looked done and dusted, with the heavy favorite Day forging himself a 3up lead – before it began to slowly slip away.

Dubuisson took the 13th hole, but despite a birdie at the 15th, the Frenchman was staring down the barrel remaining 2down with two to play. Facing a 12-foot putt to stay alive on 17, Dubuisson held his nerve pouring the putt in the middle to take it to the last.

On the final hole, Dubuisson saved par from the bunker which left Day two putts from 68-feet to wrap up his first WGC title.

The Australian’s first putt settled 10-feet from the cup, and ready to capture the second PGA Tour title of his career, Day’s par attempt was dead-center from the moment the ball left his flat-stick. But he agonizingly failed to hit it, leaving it short and in the jaws and taking us to extra holes.

Back in 2014, as silly as it sounds knowing what we know in 2020, doubts lingered about Day’s ability to close. He had won just once on Tour (2010), had three times been the bridesmaid at majors and at the 2013 Masters held the lead with three holes to play before stumbling home with two fatal bogeys.

With Day losing a 3up lead with just six holes to play and then leaving his 10-foot putt on 18 for victory short, it seemed like the 26-year-old could be hit with another mental scar.

But those fears looked to alleviate themselves when on the first playoff hole his competitor found the base of a cactus.

The final will forever be remembered for the sequence of events that followed.

Dubuisson’s Magic

In any other circumstances, Dubuisson would likely have taken an unplayable. But in a do or die position, the Frenchman summoned up one of the most remarkable up and downs you’re likely to see – knocking the ball from the cactus to 4 feet from the hole and extending the match.

On the very next hole, Dubuisson found trouble again in the form of a bush surrounded by rocks. To do it once was remarkable, to do it twice was borderline ridiculous. But the enigmatic 23-year did just that, swiping at the ball, hitting it to 8-feet, holing the putt as if it was nothing and extending the final.

All Day could do was laugh or cry. He chose the former.

The After-Effect

Day would go on to win the final, birdieing the fifth playoff hole and perhaps changing the course of his career. Tagged with an inability to close before the WGC-Match Play win, this victory was undoubtedly the catalyst in the Australian’s career. Nineteen months after winning his second title on Tour, Day had racked up a further five victories, including his single major title to date at the 2015 PGA Championship.

For Dubuisson, later that year he would shine at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, winning 2.5 points from three matches and was described by playing partner Graeme McDowell as “Europe’s next superstar”.

As of 2020, that proclamation has failed to materialize, with Dubuisson suffering massively with a perforated eardrum which saw him appear just twice in 2018, and he has since only twice claimed top-10 finishes on the European Tour.

Day didn’t trail once over his final 53 holes at the 2014 event, triumphing in the desert to kick start an incredible run that would see him climb to the summit of the sport.

But ask anyone who watched the 2014 WGC-Match Play final and their first recollection will almost always be the two extraordinary escapes the cool Frenchman gifted us to prove that sometimes there can be glory in defeat.

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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Josh

    Mar 27, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Best back to back up and downs I’ve EVER seen. I still remember watching that event love and was in disbelief. Partly luck, bit for lightning to strike twice in a row….

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19th Hole

Billy Horschel wants armlock ban: ‘I’ll give the belly putter back and take away the armlock’

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Billy Horschel has caused a stir this week at the RBC Heritage, with the 34-year-old making the controversial claim that the popular armlock putting technique should be banned as “guys are doing it too good”.

The Florida native explained that the method needs reviewing due to the ability to change the grip position so that it’s “parallel or matches the face” and that he’d even happily exchange the technique for the belly putter.

“I mean, I’m bringing up something different here, and I’m sort going out on a limb, but I don’t think this arm lock putting is — should be allowed either. I’ll give the belly putter back and take away the arm lock.

I think when you look at what guys are doing now with the arm lock and moving the grips to the side where it’s parallel or matches the face and then when you do that up against your arm, I mean, it’s — you know that face is dead square and that face doesn’t rotate at all.

It’s just sort of locked in. Guys are doing it too good.”

Horschel further revealed that there is “a little more flow” in his view with the belly putter and flirted with calling the armlock, a technique very popular on tour, the dreaded ‘A’ word: Anchoring.

“Yes, you could say it’s anchored. I don’t know because I guess anchored is having one point against somewhere and a fixed point. I know that’s not fixed, but it’s something similar to an anchor style.

Like I said, I would rather give them the belly putter back. I think there is a little bit more flow. Some guys going that way are becoming great putters, but it’s just something guys are trying and seeing some benefits for.”

Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Bernhard Langer and now Kevin Kisner are some of Horschel’s peers currently using the armlock method. It’ll be very interesting to see what response we get from them (if any) in defense of the technique.

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19th Hole

Tiger Woods appears to be renovating his practice facility

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Tiger Woods’ home practice facility seems to be getting a makeover this spring, and it has got golf fans speculating on the 15-time major champion’s future.

A photo taken and shared this week by pilot Dakota Atkinson shows Woods’ backyard under construction, with three of the facilities’ four greens being renovated.

Per Tiger Woods’ design website, the facility is broken down as the following:

“Tiger started with a flat, 3.5-acre area, and, teaming with TGR Design, directed its design, layout, and shaping. The result is a practice facility of tournament-conditioned turf and bunkering that recreates the look, feel, and playability of various major courses. Using a variety of turf found on the PGA TOUR, the design allows Tiger to hit almost any shot of 150 yards or less to one of four unique greens.”

What this signifies for Tiger’s future is unclear, with many golf fans suggesting that the renovation could well be for his son Charlie. In contrast, others believe it’s a positive sign for Tiger’s potential comeback.

It’s worth noting that many tour pros have commented on Woods’ good progress from his injuries, and that Rory McIlroy told media before the Masters that: “When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, it’s like, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that”

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19th Hole

Will Zalatoris on the one hole he wishes he could do over at the 2021 Masters

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Fresh from lighting up the Masters with a brilliant performance last week, Will Zalatoris featured on Doug Flutie’s SiriusXM podcast Flutie Flakescast, where the rookie broke down his week at Augusta.

*All quotes courtesy of Doug Flutie’s SiriusXM podcast Flutie Flakescast*

The 24-year-old finished one stroke behind Hideki Matsuyama at the event, and when asked which shots he would take back if he had the chance, Zalatoris was quick to highlight his week-long performance on the par 5 13th hole.

“I think it’s any collection of shots on 13. I played it at even par for the week, which you just can’t do. I mean, you see all those guys knock one tight out of the trees and make eagle or make a good birdie and that’s what jumpstarts them to win the golf tournament. And I just didn’t have it.

I had about a 50 or 60 foot look that weirdly that green is just so slow. I don’t know what it was. I had, you know, I had two 50 footers over the last two days and on that hole and I three-putted both of them and that’s the difference right there.”

In contrast to Zalatoris, Hideki played the 13th hole in four-under-par for the week, including making an eagle on the hole during Friday’s round.

“You know, I just needed to play 13 in a couple under par, just like I would have basically just played average golf and you know it just, it is what it is. But that’s the one to me where it’s like every single day I’m walking off 13, like dang nabbit, like I just need one shot, one shot, one shot.”

The Californian also revealed on the show that his first Masters’ experience flew by, and he wishes he could have slowed the week down.

“Man, I wish I could have slowed it down. I did a good job of staying in the moment, but I mean that seven days that I was there felt like it went by in seven minutes. It was just, you know, every day I walked over that bridge on 12 and look back just cause it’s like, you know, I worked my ass off to get to this point and I finally got there and yeah, a lot of gratitude, a lot of appreciation. And obviously I knew I was playing some good golf, and so, you know, it’s a really good feeling to be frustrated to lose by one.”

The 24-year-old returns to action this week at the RBC Heritage.

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