Down in Tucson they were staging their 89th annual rodeo. Up on Dove Mountain it may have been their last. In the immor- tal words of Brooks and Dunn, “You better kiss me ’cause you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
If this is, indeed, au revoir for the WGC-Accenture Match
Play Championship, then Jason Day and Victor Dubuisson
planted one on both cheeks.
Not since Alfred Hitchcock sent John Robie the Cat
scurrying across the rooftops of the French Riviera has
anyone from Cannes come this close to pure thievery. Isn’t
Victor Dubuisson the pseudonym James Bond uses when he
checks into the Hotel Metropole? He’s from Cannes? Really?
The land of topless beaches and yachts the size of Greek
islands? Isn’t cooking the national sport of France? Appar-
ently not, because, l’homme, this guy can joue. He may look
like d’Artagnan, but he’ll cut your heart out like Darth Vader.
Just ask Day, the victor who barely survived the Victor.
In the Sunday morning semifinals Dubuisson made it
quite clear he wouldn’t be spending the day waiting for
Godot. He may have beaten Tiger Woods in the Turkish Airlines Open last year, but the 23-year-old Frenchman was so
nervous at the prospect of playing the 44-year-old four-time
major champion, Ernie Els, he barely slept and stumbled
badly out of the blocks, falling 3 down through seven holes
before fighting back to win 1 up. For his part, Day, who had
played brilliantly all week, never trailed Rickie Fowler and
won their semifinal, 3 and 2.
Day went up quickly in the final against Dubuisson, but the
Frenchman squared the match just as fast. The fifth became an
early pivot point when Day drove into the desert and had to take
an unplayable. He salvaged a bogey from the greenside bunker
and all Dubuisson could do was manage a half. With the winds
of that escape at his back, Day won the next two holes with a
par and a birdie and went 3 up on the ninth when Dubuisson
pulled his second shot into the desert, wound up unplayable
after a drop and conceded the hole. At the par- 5 11th, Day gained
another crucial half. After driving into a fairway bunker, he
very nearly holed his 4-iron third from 253 yards. Dubuisson
trimmed the lead when he won the par- 5 13th, but Day took his
2-up advantage into the final two holes.
It was all mere prelude, however. On the 17th, Dubuisson
drove into the fairway bunker then hit 8-iron to 13 feet. Day
two-putted for par, and the stone-cold Frenchman rolled in
the birdie to send the match to the 18th. With both players in
the fairway, Day played his second long and left while Dubuisson was wide left, in the bunker. Day’s downhiller raced nine
feet past. Dubuisson summoned a masterful, delicate, curving
bunker shot to three feet. When Day left the potential winning
putt short in the heart, off they went to extra holes. The match
was about to go from good to simply not of this world.
“The guy, he doesn’t quit because he’s been down,” said
Day. “So, I just said to myself, I’ve got to get off to a good start
and then just kind of hold that position. And then 17, 18 hap-
pened. I knew before the match started that no matter what,
I still had to grind.”
On No. 1, the first playoff hole, Dubuisson launched his
7-iron over the green and into a prickly cholla. To say he had
A little overtime:
the desert on the
19th hole meant
more work for the
Frenchman and this