Day's stunning comeback at Match Play golf
Jason Day got plenty of help from his opponent as he escaped with a first round win at the WGC-Match Play championship
A relieved Jason Day acknowledged he got lucky with his great escape to reach the second round of the WGC-Match Play tournament.
Three down with three holes to play against Spain's Raphael Cabrera-Bello, Australian world No.7 Day looked headed for a humbling opening day exit in Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday.
But nerves got to the Spaniard who blew six-foot par putt chances to close it out at the 16th and 17th then messed up the 18th and lost to a brilliant Day approach shot at the first extra hole.
I felt like I just won the tournament," said Day, who set up a second round clash with fellow Australian John Senden, a 4 and 3 winner over Englishman Simon Dyson.
"I did kind of scrape through, but I'm glad I stuck in there and didn't give up.
"It's amazing how things can change very, very quickly and that's just what happened today.
"I've been working on a lot of things mentally and I knew that if I was knocked out in the first round, it would be very disappointing."
While Day and Senden progressed the other four Australians in the elite 64-man field were all knocked out, including two-time champion Geoff Ogilvy who ran into a red hot Keegan Bradley.
There were 15 wins by lower-seeded players on the day, the most in the event since 1999 when 18 of the 32 matches were won by the underdog.
The day's biggest upset belonged to Ernie Els who thumped world No.1 and defending champion Luke Donald 5 and 4.
PGA Championship winner Bradley punched out five birdies and an eagle in 15 holes to knock out Ogilvy with a 4-up result.
England's 57th seed Robert Rock ejected eighth seed Adam Scott with a 1-up win in a match the Australian could have easily won had his long putter been on.
"I putted pitifully," Scott admitted. "I had enough chances to close the match out in 14 holes."
Aaron Baddeley fell 2 and 1 to former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen while Greg Chalmers lost 4 and 2 to world No.4 Martin Kaymer.
Former world No.1 Tiger Woods scraped to a 1-up victory over Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
Woods lost his opening two holes and was 1-down with four to play before rallying to win.
But Day's was the biggest resurrection.
Clearly rattled by his missed opportunities at 16 and 17, Cabrera-Bello dumped his approach on the 18th into a near impossible lie in a bunker and ended up conceding the hole.
On the first extra hole, the Spaniard rallied with an approach shot to 13 feet but Day almost holed out from 150 yards, then tapped in for birdie and victory after Cabrera-Bello lipped out his birdie attempt.
Day was looking forward to playing his fellow Queenslander Senden but admitted the niceties after the opening tee ball would only extend so far.
"I am looking forward to playing John," he said. "But like I've always said, I'm going to go out there and do the best I can to beat the person.
"If that means making him putt a two-inch putt in, that's what I have to do."
- ● Queensland Stud On A High With Evacuation
- ● Bart One Of The Best From The West
- ● 2016 Magic Millions 2YOs In Training Sale Catalogue
- ● Weekend Winners