Saturday, March 17, 2018

Jason Day tops McIlroy, Oosthuizen for Match Play title

AUSTIN, Texas — Everyone around him was telling Jason Day to withdraw from the World Golf Championships Match Play and not risk further injury to his back after he tweaked it in his first match Wednesday.

Day knew he was playing well enough to win and wanted to stick it out. The decision paid off in more ways than he could have imagined.

Day returned to No. 1 in the world by making it to Sunday. Then he beat Rory McIlroy in an epic semifinal and Louis Oosthuizen 5 and 4 in a title match so one-sided it might as well have been a victory lap around Austin Country Club.

"I'm glad I didn't listen," said Day, who had therapy on his back for an hour before and after each match. "I wanted to win so bad that I felt … if I kept playing the way I was going, I would be holding the trophy at the end of the week. And that's what kept me going."

Day, coming off a victory last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, joined Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy as the only multiple winners of the Match Play; he also won in 2014.

Day's semi with McIlroy lived up to the hype. The lead changed seven times. They combined for 11 birdies in chilly, blustery weather. The match turned on No. 11 when Day got up-and-down for par with a 12-foot putt and McIlroy missed a 6-foot birdie. Day won 1 up.

"I'm just angry that I didn't … convert my chances when I could have," McIlroy said. "Disappointed with the outcome, but I feel like where my game is, I'm happy with that.''

PGA: Tony Finau won the Puerto Rico Open for his first tour title, beating Steve Marino with a birdie on the third playoff hole in Rio Grande. Finau, 26, and Marino each shot 2-under 70 for 12-under 276. Round 3 leader Ian Poulter (72) and Rodolfo Cazaubon (68) were one back. … Commissioner Tim Finchem signed a one-year contract extension but plans to leave at year's end. His contract was to expire June 1. Finchem, 68 and commissioner since 1994, said it's time for new leadership.

LPGA: No. 1 Lydia Ko birdied her last three holes for a four-stroke win over Inbee Park at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. Ko, the Round 3 leader, shot 5-under 67 for 19-under 203. Park also shot 67.