A New Day
Such is the uncertainty of head to head 18-hole matches that often times they produce unlikely winners. Although the field is made up of the top 64 players in the world based on the Rolex World rankings, it is rare that the highest seeded players make their way to the final matches. The 2016 version of the World Golf Championship Matchplay was the exception to the rule.
All three of the modern, Big 3, Jordan Spieth, Jason day and Rory McIlroy survived the opening 3 days to advance to the round of 16.
World #1 Spieth would lose his round of 16 match to South Africa’s, Louis Oosthuizen, but Day and McIlroy survived to face each other in the semi-finals.
The venue for this year’s version of golf’s, March Madness, was at historic Austin Country Club. The club was originally founded in 1899, but was relocated in 1949 to the east side of Austin when it needed more space.
The golf course was redesigned by Pete Dye in 1984 and is a classic Dye design complete with several water holes, pot bunkers, railroad ties and risk/reward holes. This is the first year of a four year agreement for Austin CC to be the host of the Dell sponsored World Matchplay Championship.
The renown though for Austin Country Club comes not from the course itself, but from the man who would be the professional associated with the Club for over 70 years, the legendary, Harvey Penick. Mr. Penick was largely regarded as the greatest teacher who ever lived and became an “overnight success” when he authored the Little Red Book in 1992 at the age of 88. The Little Red Book is the biggest selling golf book in history.
Bird Golf has a connection to the great man because one of our Senior West Coast instructors’, Sandra Palmer, was mentored by Mr. Penick for 35 years. Mr. Penick thought so much of Sandra that he named a chapter of a later book entitled, ”For Those Who Love The Game”, “Our Daughter Sandra”.
The Day/McIlroy match was a superbly played battle between two of the game’s modern giants. A three birdie in four hole stretch at the beginning of the back-9 would ultimately be just enough for Day to prevail with a 1-up victory over McIlroy.
In the other semi-final, Oosthuizen would defeat Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello handily, 4 and 3, to set up the final between him and Day.
The Big 3 have all had turns with the World #1 ranking for the last 12 months and Day’s advance to the finals means that he now ascends again to the top spot with Spieth at #2 to and McIlroy close behind at #3.
The final proved to be anticlimactic as Day took command early and never relinquished his lead as he overpowered Oosthuizen winning the match, 5 and 4.
This is the 28-year Day’s second consecutive win on the PGA Tour after winning last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
It is also his second win in the World Matchplay after his breakthrough win in the 2014 event.
Day’s victory is his ninth on the PGA Tour and the sixth win in the last 7 months on the Tour. It is clear that the Tour and game itself are enjoying a renaissance with the great young stars that have taken center stage.
Brightest of all right now is a brand new Day.