Miami (AFP) – Australia’s Jason Day birdied two of the last three holes Sunday to capture the Wells Fargo Championship, collecting his 12th career US PGA title and second of the year.
Day, the 2015 PGA Championship winner, held off Americans Aaron Wise and Nick Watney with a final-round two-under par 69 to finish 72 holes on 12-under 272 for a two-stroke victory at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On the same course where he contended before faltering late in last year’s PGA Championship, the 30-year-old Aussie stumbled with back-to-back bogeys and fell level with Wise with four holes remaining.
But Day sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 16th and bounced his tee shot into the flagstick at the par-3 17th before a tap-in birdie. He sank a seven-footer for par at 18 to win by two.
“This is probably one of the best wins I’ve ever had because of how hard everything was today,” Day said.
Wise, seeking his first PGA win, fired a 68 to settle for a career-best second on 274 with Watney, who was chasing his sixth PGA title and first since 2012, closing with a 60-foot birdie putt to match him for the runner-up spot.
American Bryson DeChambeau was fourth on 276 with five-time major winner Phil Mickelson on 277 with US compatriot Peter Uihlein and England’s Paul Casey.
Masters champion Patrick Reed was eighth on 278.
Day, whose wife is expecting their third child in November, won the Farmers Insurance Open in January at Torrey Pines, his first victory since the 2016 Players Championship.
Day began with a two-stroke lead over playing partner Watney and sandwiched a birdie at the second around up-and-down par saves, the first on a 10-foot putt and the second half as long.
Bogeys at the fifth, after finding bunkers on his first two shots, and the par-3 sixth after missing the green were followed by back-to-back birdies from six and nine feet at seven and eight.
Day blasted out of a greenside bunker at the par-5 10th to two feet and made birdie to reach 12-under, stretching his lead over Watney and Wise to three shots.
But Day stumbled with bogeys at the par-3 13th and par-4 14th, missing the green off the 13th tee and finding water off the 14th, falling back into a share of the lead after Wise birdied the 14th to reach 10-under.
Day responded with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 16th to reclaim the lead, then he nearly holed his tee shot at the par-3 17th, bouncing into the flagstick before tapping in from three feet for a birdie to grab a two-stroke edge.
Day put his approach in the right rough at 18 but lofted his third onto the green and sank a seven-foot par putt for a two-stroke triumph.
He said more will be needed for him to contend at the Players Championship next week.
– Tiger closes with 74 –
Tiger Woods, the 14-time major champion struggling in his first event since sharing 32nd at last month’s Masters, fired a 3-over 74 — his first birdie-less round since 2014, — to finish on 286.
“I didn’t putt well again,” Woods said. “I made nothing. The chances I did have I missed them all. It was just a bad week.”
Woods challenges the tour’s top talent again starting Thursday at The Players Championship, when he will be paired alongside fellow former Players champions and US compatriots Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.