Golf Tidbits: Day, Dubuisson both winners at Match Play


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Updated: 2/25 10:55 am Published: 2/25 10:55 am


Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There are winners and losers every week in professional golf. The winners equate to the number of events in a single week, while the losers total into the hundreds.

The fields for most regular golf events range from 120 to 156 players. Last week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, just the top 64 in the world qualified. Three of the top four bailed and were replaced by Nos. 65, 66 and 67 in the world.

The finalists at the Match Play were ranked 11th and 30th in the world at the start of the event. One was a household name, the other, not so much.

A day later, the "loser" was getting as much or more pub than the winner.

Jason Day grabbed the winner's check of $1.53 million, but runner-up Victor Dubuisson showed off in front of a large audience.

Day had already won on the PGA Tour, but this victory vaults him into the discussion as one the favorites heading to Augusta National for the first major of the season. Many pundits believe Day should have more wins by this point in his career, but injuries have held him back.

Dubuisson, on the other hand, is still trying to make a name for himself. He is at the start of his fourth full year on the European Tour, but may now shun that since he's earned enough money to became a special temporary member on the PGA Tour.

The Frenchman first broke through last fall in Turkey. His third-round 63 propelled him to his first European Tour title. Since it happened in Turkey, not many in the United States took notice, but they should have.

Why? Among those right behind Dubuisson on the leaderboard were world No. 1 Tiger Woods, reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, who won the PGA Tour's FedExCup and the European Tour's Race to Dubai.

That victory went with a trio of third-places finishes in 2013 for Dubuisson. He has two top-15 finishes in four PGA Tour starts this year, but what people are really talking about are his shot-making skills.

Day was 2-up with two holes to go in Sunday's final match and Dubuisson found a fairway bunker off the tee. No worries, he blasted that shot within 15 feet of the hole and made the birdie to stay alive.

Dubuisson again got up and down from sand on the 18th. This time, his par was enough to send the match extra holes as Day three-putted for bogey.

Those two shots were nothing compared to what came on the next two holes. At the first, which was the 19th hole of the match, Dubuisson knocked his second shot into the desert.

Cameras quickly spotted his ball under a cholla bush. Once he spotted his ball, Dubuisson grabbed his wedge and went to work. He took maybe 10 seconds to figure out how to hit the shot, and nine of those were used in waving cameramen and reporters out of his way.

With one improbable whack, Dubuisson's ball flew out of the bush, bounced off the desert dirt, through the rough and came to rest within four feet of the hole. Day, who also missed the green, saved par from six feet before Dubuisson made his short par putt.

If that wasn't enough, Dubuisson did it again on the next hole - the ninth - which played as the 20th hole of the match.

In regulation, Dubuisson hit his second shot long and left of this same green. The first time around, he got a free drop from the grandstands, but his drop stopped against a thick rock and he just conceded the hole.

The second time through, he was a little luckier. He ball stopped under a dead branch near another bush. Dubuisson could have tried to play pick-up sticks and removed the branch.

Instead, he again grabbed his wedge and hacked away. The result was the same as his ball rolled within five feet. Cameras quickly panned to Day, who smiled, laughed and shook his head while thinking, "You've got to be kidding., he did it again."

Day missed his birdie putt on that hole, and both players made par again. Two holes later, with much less drama, Day got up and down for par to win the match.

About the only thing Dubuisson actually lost was the $624,000 difference between the first-place and second-place paychecks.

Regardless, Dubuisson has earned enough money to gain unlimited sponsor exemptions the rest of the year on the PGA Tour and has soared to 30th in the world rankings.

If he can remain that high in the rankings, he gets into at least the first three majors and the next two World Golf Championships. If that weren't enough, he's a virtual lock to make his Ryder Cup debut for the European team this fall.

As you can see, even by losing the event, Dubuisson came out a big winner.

TOO SOON TO WORRY ABOUT PARK

The parallels between current women's world No. 1 Inbee Park and former No. 1 Yani Tseng are certainly there.

Tseng hasn't won since winning three of the first five tournaments of the 2012 season. Park won six of the first 13 events last year, including the first three majors, but hasn't won since.

Park has played 11 events since her last title and has top-five finishes in four of the last five dating to the end of the 2013 season.

Tseng has posted 44 starts on the LPGA Tour since her last win. Though her numbers aren't terrible with 11 top-10 finishes in the 44 events, she has missed eight cuts in the stretch.

Park hasn't missed a cut since her first start of the 2012 season. While she isn't winning, Park clearly hasn't lost her game like Tseng.

Tseng has tumbled to 39th in the world rankings. Park, who finished second in Thailand last weekend, increased her slim lead atop the rankings from 0.46 average points to 0.76 average points.

Let's not compare Park's issues to those Tseng has battled just yet. Park has been in contention more frequently than Tseng.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Eight of the first 14 European Tour events have been in South Africa. The European Tour should buy the South African-based Sunshine Tour, like the PGA did with the former Canadian Tour.

- Both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are in the field this week at the Honda Classic. Maybe they'll hang around for all four rounds, unlike they did when both played the Humana Challenge. Mickelson hurt his back there and withdrew, and Woods missed the third-round cut for the first time in his career.


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