November 24, 2013
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- After nearly withdrawing due to a family tragedy, Jason Day made an emotional return to golf at the ISPS Handa World Cup to win his first tournament in more than three years on Sunday at Royal Melbourne.
His seven-foot par-saving putt on the 16th hole held off a faltering Thomas Bjorn. Day had a 70 for a 10-under total of 274, two strokes ahead of Denmark's Bjorn, who finished with a 71 after two late bogeys.
The World Cup was Day's first tournament in five weeks and came less than two weeks after he learned that eight of his relatives, including his grandmother, died in the devastating typhoon in the Philippines.
His mother, who migrated to Australia from the Philippines 30 years ago, and sister were just off the green on 18 at Royal Melbourne. They both hugged him as he walked to the scoring tent to sign his card.
"It's just been an amazing tournament for me," Day said. "My mother, my family, coming down to support me. I'm just so happy the hard work has paid off, and I'm glad it happened in Melbourne.
"It would have been the easiest thing for me to just go ahead and pull out of the tournament with what has been going on over the last week," he added. "But I really wanted to come down here and play."
Day's situation wasn't lost on Bjorn.
"Obviously a fraction disappointed, I didn't play that great today," Bjorn said. "But I couldn't be happier for Jason winning. He has gone through a rough time of late and for him to even be here is a big thing and then to go and win a golf tournament ... that's what you want to see."
Day's last tournament victory came at the HP Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA TOUR in 2010, although he's had four top-five finishes in majors since 2011.
Adam Scott finished third after a 66, three strokes behind. Scott, who was trying to win his third tournament in a row, shot 75 on the opening day, including a 9 on the 12th hole, and spent the rest of the tournament trying to catch up.
Day earned $1.2 million for winning the individual title and helped Australia win the team portion of the World Cup. Day and Scott, who each holed approach shots for eagles Sunday, shared the $600,000 first-place team prize.
American Matt Kuchar shot 71 to finish fourth in individual stroke-play, three behind Day.
Ryo Ishikawa (69) of Japan and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who shot 70, finished tied for fifth, seven behind the winner.
Day led by four strokes after nine holes thanks to a big swing on the fifth and sixth. Day bogeyed the par-3 fifth after going into bunker and Bjorn birdied, leaving them tied for the lead.
But on the sixth, Day's gap wedge from about 80 yards hit the green once and rolled into the hole for eagle. Bjorn, who was in the rough with his tee shot, made bogey and there was a three-shot swing to put the Australian back in the lead.
Day walked up to the green to pluck the ball out of the hole to the cheers of the roving Fanatics cheerleading squad dressed in Australia's yellow and green, then threw one of them his ball.
On the next hole, Day increased his lead to four over Bjorn when the Danish player three-putted for bogey.
After making the turn with the four-shot lead, thanks to a 12-foot par-saving putt on nine, Day ran into big problems on the 10th when his tee shot went into the left rough. Trying to advance it up the fairway instead of just chipping out sideways, he sent the ball but back into the rough.
He chipped back out to the fairway with his third shot, put his fourth on the green and two-putted for double-bogey. That reduced his lead to two shots over Scott and Bjorn, but birdies by Bjorn on 11 and 13 put both players level again until Bjorn's bogey on 16.
Scott, who holed out for eagle with his approach on the first hole Sunday, won the Australian PGA and Australian Masters in his first trip back home since winning the Masters at Augusta in April. He'll try to complete the Australian `Triple Crown' of majors next week at Royal Sydney.
"It's been an incredible day," Scott said. "Thanks Jason, you played so well this week."
The last time the World Cup was captured by a host country was in 1996 when the South African team of Ernie Els and Wayne Westner won at Cape Town.
Australia finished the team component at 17-under, 10 strokes better than the American team of Kuchar and Kevin Streelman, who finished with a 74 Sunday and was tied for eighth in the individual competition.
Denmark and Japan finished equal third at 5-under in the team event.
About the winners
- Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott combined to shoot 17 under to win the team competition while Day’s 10-under total was good for the individual title at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf. Day’s individual title comes against 60 players from 34 countries, with 26 teams competing for the team title. The victory marks the fifth time that Australia has won the team competition in the World Cup, tying South Africa for second-most wins. It is the third individual title for an Australian player.
- Day joins Brett Ogle (1992-Madrid,Spain) and Peter Fowler (1989-Costa Del Sol, Spain) as Australian players to win the individual trophy. When the Australian team of Peter Fowler and Wayne Grady won the World Cup in 1989 and Fowler won the individual title, it marked the only year in tournament history that Australia has won both formats.
- Day wins the World Cup of Golf at the age of 26 years and 12 days.
- This World Cup has not recognized an individual champion since Tiger Woods won in 1999 as the format was changed to strictly team play. The individual stroke-play format returned this year.
- The victory is Day’s first international victory since winning the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA TOUR. From that victory to his win at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, Day has had 25 top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR, six top-10s at major championship, including three runners-up. This was Day’s first appearance in the World Cup of Golf.
- Adam Scott, the other half of the Australian team continued to rebound from an opening-round 4-over-par 75 to shoot a final-round 66 and challenged for his third consecutive victory on Australian soil and his second consecutive victory at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club after winning last week’s Australian Masters. The Australian team began the day with a one-stroke heading into the final round. They finished with a 10-stroke win in the team competition.
- Brett Ogle was the last Australian to win the individual competition at the World Cup of Golf. Ogle won in 1992 at La Moraleja GC in Madrid, Spain. The United States team of Fred Couples and Davis Love III won the team competition that year.