Two feet away from chipping into the water, Jason Day turned a good break into a big win Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open when he won a four-man playoff with a par on the second extra hole at tough Torrey Pines.
Day’s gamble in regulation looked as if it might backfire when he went long of the green on the par-5 18th, and his chip out of deep rough raced down the hill, over the front of the green and was headed for the water when it stopped at the hazard line. He got up-and-down for par and a 2-under 70.
Day and J.B. Holmes each made birdie on the 18th in the playoff, while Scott Stallings and Harris English were eliminated with pars. On the second extra hole at the par-3 16th, Holmes went over the green, chipped to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Day hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made par for his third PGA Tour victory.
Day moved to No. 4 in the world, just ahead of Adam Scott, and became the highest-ranked Australian for the first time.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Day said. “I’ve been working so hard for this. I was visualizing myself holding the trophy, just like I did at the Match Play. I’m really proud of myself to hang in there and grind it out.”
Day’s decision on the 18th in regulation wasn’t the only choice that was second-guessed. Holmes, needing a birdie to win, laid up from 235 yards in the fairway and narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie attempt. He closed with a 72.
It was only the second stroke-play victory on the PGA Tour for the 27-year-old Day, who is in his eighth year. Loaded with talent, the Aussie has been hampered by more injuries than he cares to remember. Even when he won the Match Play Championship last year in Arizona, he was playing with an injured wrist that kept him out of every tournament but the Masters for the next three months.
His health was a big priority this year, and so was winning.
“It’s a good start to the year,” Day said. “Hopefully, I can stay healthy.”
Day was among seven players who had at least a share of the lead on a Sunday that was more about survival than a shootout. It was the first time that a single-digit score under par — 9-under 279 — won on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose (4-under 276) at Congressional last summer.