MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Jason Day of Australian and Victor Dubuisson of France reached the 18-hole final of the Match Play Championship on Sunday.
Day, a semifinalist last year, led from the start in a 3-and-2 victory over Rickie Fowler.
Dubuisson became the fourth player to reach the championship match in his debut in the 15 years after this World Golf Championship began in 1999. He had to take down Ernie Els in the most compelling match of the morning on Dove Mountain.
Els, trying to reach the final for the first time, went 3 up through four holes and was on the verge of stretching his lead until the 23-year-old Frenchman halved the hole with a tough par putt at No. 7. Dubuisson won four of the next five holes to take the lead, only for the 44-year-old Els to battle back.
Els made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th to square the match, and they headed to the 18th hole. Dubuisson hit to the back fringe, while Els came up short with a 6-iron into the breeze and found a bunker. He blasted out to just outside 12 feet, and narrowly missed the par putt to extend the match.
Dubuisson said he didn't sleep well Saturday night and didn't feel well when he arrived at the golf course, perhaps because "I realized I was in the semifinal of the World Golf Championship against Ernie Els."
"I'm a big fan of Ernie, so I have always been watching him winning majors," he said. "I knew I had to play my best golf. It's what I did."