Takeaways from the Match Play Championship

For an event that many argue its very existence, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship provided a very exciting Sunday afternoon of golf. Jason Day outlasted Victor Dubuisson to win the final match in 23 holes. Day squandered a three hole lead on the back nine, including being two up with two holes to play, only to withstand probably the greatest back-to-back up and downs in the history of golf from Dubuisson on the 19th and 20th holes.

On the 19th hole, being played on hole #1, Dubuisson’s second shot bounced over the green and into the desert, prompting Nick Faldo to exclaim “He’s ruined!”. He then proceeded to hit an unbelievable chip shot from next to a jumping cactus to within 5 feet. He made the putt, sending the match to the 20th hole.

The 20th hole was played on hole #9. Earlier in the match on the 9th hole, Dubuisson hit his approach shot left into the desert and ended up conceding the hole. He again hit his second shot left on this hole into the desert and under a branch. He hit his next shot through the branch to within 7 feet. He once again made the putt to send the match to the 21st hole.

After halving the next two holes, Day won the 23rd hole with a birdie.

There are a few things a high handicap golfer can take away from this match.

First off, both Dubuisson and Day had very good short games the whole day. So good, it prompted Greg Norman to tweet the following.

It is so important to have a solid short game, yet this is an area that many high handicap and beginner golfers do not practice near enough. Dedicate weekly practice time for pitching and chipping.

Both golfers showed tremendous mental strength. Dubuisson stated he only slept one hour the night before because he was nervous about playing Ernie Els in the morning. He must have been physically drained after 41 holes of golf on Sunday but it only showed on a few shots. His mental determination was strong the whole day. Day won the 9th hole and then did not win another hole until he won the match by winning the 23rd hole. He blew leads of 3 up on the back nine and 2 up with 2 holes to go. He had Dubuisson all but dead on each of the first two extra holes only to see Dubuisson make miraculous shots to extend the match. He could have collapsed but didn’t. He instead played the best golf of the two on the extra holes.

One last takeaway from Sunday is something not to do. Don’t try to be a hero and hit a miraculous shot you can’t pull off. Dubuisson only attempted those two shots because he had no choice. It was attempt the shot or lose the match. I’m a big believer in making your own luck but even with that the golfing gods were smiling on Victor. He actually conceded the 9th hole earlier in the match when he was in the desert. Unless playing the last hole in their flight of the club championship, a high handicap golfer has no reason to attempt a shot that they have little chance of pulling off. Take the unplayable lie and move on.

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