MARANA Ariz. -- Jason Day rebounded after a shakey semifinal loss Sunday morning to take down one of the game's best at this format in Ian Poulter.
Day earned $615,000 for his third-place finish and improved to 8-3 in three appearances at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Poulter's record is 22-11 and he has one win and two fourth-place finishes in nine starts.
Both players had stretches were they were in control. Poulter was 2 up through six holes after Day conceded the first and the Englishman won the fourth with par.
Day started to gain some confidence, though as he won three straight holes starting at the seventh hole. Those two pars sandwiched around an 8-foot birdie putt at the eighth hole took Day from 1 down to 1 up.
The Aussie then led the final 10 holes but didn't make it easy on himself. He won the two par 5s on the back nine with pars to go 3 up but in each case needed a birdie to halve the following hole.
Day then bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to give Poulter a glimmer of hope. Day sealed the 1-up win, though, when he made a clutch 9-footer for par with Poulter looking at a 7-footer of his own to possibly extend the match.
"I won three holes straight, and we were kind of laughing and giggling out there for the first nine, and once we turned the corner on 10, everything got real serious," Day recalled. "He obviously made a couple of good clutch pars on 16 and 17."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made three birdies and three bogeys while conceding one hole to Poulter. Poulter made two birdies and four bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. Poulter won four.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Matt Kuchar has finally played his way into the title tilt at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship for the first time.
Kuchar has come close each of the last two years. He lost to eventual champ Luke Donald in the 2010 semifinals and went on to finish third when he beat Bubba Watson in the consolations.
A year ago, Kuchar was eliminated in the quarterfinals 6 and 5 by the eventual champ Hunter Mahan, the man he'll face in the championship match.
"This has been a lot of golf, and it's fun to continue to survive," Kuchar said. "... So excited to make the championship match, won five matches now, but it's a thrill. To have a chance to win the title here at the Accenture Match Play is pretty exciting."
Kuchar traied briefly when he made a bogey at the second hole. But he squared the match with a par at No. 4 and took a 1-up advantage when he rolled in a 13-footer for birdie at No. 6.
Another birdie at the eighth, this time on a 23-inch putt after Kuchar just missed the green on the par 5, put him 2 up. He and Day traded wins on the next two holes, then Kuchar went 3 up when he parred the 13th.
Kuchar closed out the match with a 5-footer for birdie at No. 15. Day's drive traveled 291 yards on the par 4 that was playing 312 but he chipped short and couldn't convert from 22 feet to extend the match.
Day, who beat two former major winners on Saturday, was disappointed but still saw the glass half-full.
"I think the whole week in itself is a positive week for myself," Day said. "I played good golf against great golfers, and I've got one more match to go against probably one of the most feared match play players."
SCORECARD STATS Kuchar made three birdies and three bogeys. Day made four bogeys and one double bogey.
HOLES WON: Kuchar won six holes. Day won three holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Kuchar plays Hunter Mahan, who beat Ian Poulter 4 and 3 in the other semifinal. The championship match will begin at 2:15 p.m. ET (12:15 p.m. MT). Day will play Poulter in the third-place match beginning at 1:55 p.m. ET (11:55 p.m. MT).
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Jason Day earned his way into the semifinals in a big way by taking down two major champions on Saturday.
After dispatching Bubba Watson with relative ease in the morning, Day had to dig deep in the afternoon when neither he nor Graeme McDowell had their best stuff.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion won the first hole with a conceded birdie and made another one at the third to go 2 up. When McDowell bogeyed the fourth and seventh holes, though, the match was square again.
Day took the lead for the first time with a birdie at the par-5 11th hole. McDowell then squared the match with a birdie at the 14th but Day answered with a 3-footer at the next to get back to 1 up.
Another see-saw spurt saw McDowell and Day trade wins with pars at Nos. 16 and 17. So Day took a 1-up lead to the 18th hole where he two-putted from 42 feet for the win and McDowell missed a 16-footer for birdie to extend the match.
"It was very stressful out there today," Day said. "I feel like my mind is going every which way right now. Just to play the way I did on the back nine was very, very special. The whole game today felt really, really nice, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
"You know, myself and G Mac, we really didn't play our best, but you've just got to do enough. That's because you're just playing against a guy that's across the tee from you. I've got Matt Kuchar tomorrow, and I know he's very slow and steady, hits a lot of fairways and greens and can roll the rock when he can, and I'm looking forward to that."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made four birdies and two bogeys. McDowell made five birdies and four bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. McDowell won four holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Day plays Matt Kuchar, who beat Robert Garrigus 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.
MARANA, Ariz --This was a battle of two of the PGA TOUR's resident bombers, but Jason Day was ready to take advantage of Bubba Watson's struggles on the greens.
Day's win was his second blowout of the week. He never trailed in the match after winning three of the first six holes with two birdies and a par to go 2 up.
Watson birdied the seventh to cut into the Aussie's lead but Day responded with a two-putt birdie from 43 feet at the par-5 eighth and went 3 up at the turn when his opponent bogeyed the ninth.
Watson and Day traded wins with birdies at the 12th and 13th. But Watson got into trouble in the desert at the driveable par-4 15th and eventually conceded the hole to end the match.
Day advances to the Accenture Match Play Championship quarterfinals for the second time in three tries at this event.
"It was just really steady golf," Day said. "Bubba gave me a couple early on and I just tried to hold that lead, and I tried to extend it. I think I was 4 under through 14 holes, so overall very, very happy with how I played. Like I said before, it was just steady."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made six birdies and nine pars in 15 holes. Watson had 11 pars, three birdies and a bogey.
HOLES WON: Day won seven holes. Watson won three holes.
NEXT UP: Day faces Graeme McDowell, who defeated Shane Lowry 3 and 2.
MARANA, Ariz. -- This match was a tight one with Jason Day getting to 2 up for just one hole. Otherwise, the Aussie was 1 up for eight holes and Russell Henley, who was making his Accenture Match Play Championship debut, held the same advantage for six.
Day got the edge early when he birdied the second hole. But two of his three bogeys, which came at the fifth and sixth holes, put Henley, who birdied No. 6, on top.
The two halved the eighth hole with birdies so Henley was 1 up at the turn. Day quickly turned the tide, though, when he won three straight -- starting with a birdie at the 12th, followed by a par at No. 11 and another birdie at the 13th.
That 2-up lead was short-lived, though, as Henley made a 7-footer for birdie at the 14th. The rookie, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii early this year, then made a 14-footer at the 18th hole to extend the match only to lose to Day's 9-footer on the first extra hole after missing one from 13 feet of his own.
"I think Russell only missed one green today, which was very, very frustrating on my side, because he hit it great, so that means you have to make birdie," Day said. "I just did enough today to win. He was very clutch on 18 to actually hole the putt and get it back to all square. And fortunately I hit a nice tight one into the 19th hole, and he missed his birdie putt and I holed one, which was nice.
SCORECARD STATS: Day made five birdies and three bogeys in 19 holes. Henley made four birdies and two bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. Henley won four holes.
NEXT OPPONENT: Bubba Watson, who beat Jim Furyk on the 22nd hole.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Jason Day did most of the heavy lifting on Wednesday as he bolted to a 6-up lead through his first 10 holes.
Zach Johnson did manage to cut into the Aussie's lead briefly when play resumed on Thursday, sinking a 5-footer for birdie at the 11th hole to get to 5 down. But Day finished the former Masters champ off with 2-foot birdie putt on the next par 5 after Johnson missed from 15 feet.
"I think I missed two greens out of the 13 holes that I played," Day said. "I hit a lot of good quality shots, and I putted great, so obviously holing a 40-footer on ... 4, and then a 20-footer on 5, and then another 10-footer on 6 to get that momentum rolling was obviously good."
Day, who shot 5 under and didn't drop a shot to par, will play the winner of the match between Charl Schwartzel and Russell Henley.
Jason Day has exactly one win in 115 career starts. Look for him to have a Jason Dufner-style rise into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. -- Ryan Smithson, Site Producer
Even though he won the Frys.com Open, Jonas Blixt is s till flying under the radar. Despite missing time with a rib injury, Blixt posted 5 Top-10 finishes in his rookie season. He was second on TOUR in Strokes Gained Putting and first in sand saves. -- Fred Albers, PGA TOUR Radio
The last time Phil Mickelson didn't win on TOUR was 2003. Will that change in 2013? Mickelson, who will turn 43 in June, is on the other side of his career, and he continues to battle psoriatic arthritis. I think he's due for a down year. -- Brian Wacker, Side Producer
Bo Van Pelt. He’s placed inside the top 30 in the final FedExCup standings each of the past three seasons. In 2012, he collected a TOUR high-tying 10 top 10s, and is one of the best putters (11th in strokes gained-putting) and one of the best drivers (3rd in total driving). This is the year where Van Pelt wins something big – maybe even the FedExCup. -- Bill Cooney, Site Producer
Gary Woodland. Making a swing change took its toll on one of the TOUR's biggest hitters in 2012. Hopefully he has it figured out by now. -- Mike McAllister, Managing Editor
Due to injury and limited status, Billy Horschel hasn’t had the opportunity to flash his talent over a full season since his debut in 2010. Now healthy and near the top of the opening reshuffle, it would be an upset if he didn’t convert with supreme confidence on top of what was an easy go at q-school that punctuated a quietly solid 2012. -- Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
Gary Woodland. He was essentially a non-factor in 2012 after he was injured amdist a swing change, finishing 134th in FedExCup standings. He showed signs of life in the Fall Series with a T9 at the Frys.com Open, and I think he'll be back to winning-form this season. -- Anne Szeker, Site Producer
I was tempted to say Justin Rose but after eight-top 10s last year, including two in majors, nothing he does would be a surprise. So let's go with big-hitting Gary Woodland, who is fully recovered from that nagging wrist injury and rejuvenated after the hard work he's put in with Butch Harmon. -- Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents
With a win at Wyndham and (sigh) the Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia looked like a kid again. And he's only turning 32 on Jan. 9; he still has a lot of productive years ahead. I say this is one of them, with multiple wins. -- John Schwarb, Site Producer
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: The most important thing to happen to Jason Day in 2012 occurred away from the golf course as he and his wife Ellie became parents for the first time. He took five weeks off during the summer to get acquainted with baby Dash, but the young Australian figures to be focused on work again in 2013 as his exemption for winning the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship has expired.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Day played just 17 events last year but still managed four top-10s. He saved his best for the last as Day closed with a 65 at TPC Summerlin that included a front-nine 28 to finish solo fourth. Day only used 10 putts during his opening surge. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: It was a big year for Jason, as the Aussie became a first-time father and got his haircut. I'm not sure which was more traumatic for him. I know fatherhood was a distraction for him but in the very best of ways. Day will figure out how to juggle his time appropriately and is a good candidate for a breakthrough season and a major title. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Costing just $1.143 million, he might populate more rosters in salary games than anyone else. An ankle injury thwarted a run at the Masters, where he shared runner-up honors in 2011. The birth of his first baby toyed with his scheduling until his son was born in mid-July. Looking to build some momentum into the offseason, he ended a three-year hiatus in the Fall Series and posted a season-best solo fourth at the Shriners Hospitals. Book him for more consistency in 2013. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
||Shriners Hospitals for Children Open|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 13
Rounds played: 55
Top-10 finishes: 4
Money List rank: 88th
Driving distance: 7th
Driving accuracy: 184th
Greens in regulation: 169th
Strokes gained-putting: 15th
Scoring average: 27th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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Vijay Singh nearly holes out from the fairway from 147 yards on the 10th hole on Thursday.
Jason Day nearly knocks in his approach from 158 yards on the 10th hole on Thursday.