SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jason Day, once the undisputed No. 1 player in golf, has gone 20 months since his last victory.
One more day wasn’t about to bother him.
In the longest playoff in the 67-year history of the Farmers Insurance Open, Day and Alex Noren of Sweden exchanged three birdies and two pars over five extra holes at Torrey Pines, the last one in near darkness.
They had to return Monday morning to decide a winner.
At stake for Day was a chance for a fresh start in 2018 after a dreadful year of his mother recovering from lung cancer and a game that lost some discipline and focus. For Noren, it was an opportunity to finally earn some recognition in America after a strong rise through his European Tour success. Noren, who played at Oklahoma State, has nine victories on the European Tour, including four in 2016. He is No. 19 in the world.
Missing from the mix is Ryan Palmer, who was eliminated on the first extra hole with a par.
And missing Monday are the spectators. Tournament officials decided to close the course to the general public because of what it called “security and operational realities” for a playoff that was to resume at 8 a.m. PST and could be done in 15 minutes if it lasts only one more hole.
Fans were allowed on Monday in 2013 when Tiger Woods in a fog-delayed finish, though Woods still had 11 holes to play that year.
Noren and Day apparently saved their best for the playoff. Neither made a par on the back nine in regulation in the wicked wind that arrived Sunday, adding to the strength of already one of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour.
Day closed with a 70 and didn’t have a great chance to make birdie on the par-5 18th in regulation because his ball stayed above the slope. Noren had a 12-foot birdie putt for the victory in regulation, and it narrowly slid by the hole.
In the playoff, they both were on their games.
Day made a 10-foot birdie putt after Noren had hit wedge into 2 feet for a sure birdie on the 18th on the first extra hole. Day missed a 15-foot eagle attempt on the next try, matching birdies with Noren, who two-putted from 50 feet.
Both made pars on the 16th and 17th holes. Back to the 18th as the sun set over the Pacific, Day hit a wedge from 80 yards that he never saw land.
The big cheer told him it was a good one.
“I can’t see,” Day said to his caddie.
Noren went for the green, and his 45-foot eagle putt raced 5 feet by the hole. He made it, mainly because he remembered from the line on his 12-foot putt that it broke to the right at the end. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have seen the line.
By then, Woods was long gone.
It was the third playoff in three weeks on the PGA Tour, all of them lasting at least four holes. And while it was entertaining, thousands of fans weren’t around to see it. They left after Woods finished his round. In only his second PGA Tour event since August 2015, Woods closed with a 72 and tied for 23rd, seven shots out of the lead.
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