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Australia’s Jason Day defeated Victor Dubuisson of France at the 23rd hole to win the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain in Arizona.

In an epic final, Day claimed the biggest victory of his career to date and has climbed to number four on the Official World Golf Ranking. But it was tough going for the 26-year-old, as the Frenchman provided stiff resistance and produced two outstanding escapes to push the Australian all the way to the line.

Day was three-up through nine holes of the final 18-hole match and had retained that advantage with six holes to play. But a birdie on the 13th by Dubuissson reduced the deficit to two, and the gap was only one when he made another birdie on the 17th.

At the 18th, Day three-putted and the Frenchman saved par from a greenside bunker to square the game and force it to be decided over extra holes.

It looked as though it was all over for Dubuisson on the 19th when his approach went through the green and ended under a cactus in the desert. But the Frenchman somehow played the ball from there and it popped out onto the putting surface, leaving him a five-foot putt for par that he duly knocked into the hole.

Day had found a greenside bunker with his approach but also managed to get up-and-down and the pair moved on to the par-4 ninth.

Dubuisson once again played a poor approach that ended in the desert. Jason Day was left shaking his head as the Frenchman pulled off another miraculous escape to get up-and-down and save par, keeping his hopes alive after Day had missed his birdie putt.

The next two holes were halved before Day sealed the victory with a birdie at the fifth extra hole.

“The guy saves par straight out of the cactus twice! For a 23 year old kid he has a lot of game and you are going to see a lot of him for years to come,” said Day of his opponent in the final.

“I think the biggest thing was how much do I want to win. I kept saying that to myself last night and visualising myself with the trophy and I am just glad I could finish it off.”

Although disappointed at missing out on the victory, Dubuisson could console himself with the fact the second place cheque for some €650,000 will all but secure his place in the European Ryder Cup team this September.

“Jason played well and made the important putts,” he said. “Any time I had a gimmie birdie, he made his putt, I was impressed with his nerve.”

In the playoff for third and fourth places, Rickie Fowler beat Ernie Els at the first extra hole.