Former world No. 1 Jason Day almost aced the 17th hole on the way to a two-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte on Sunday.
After squandering a three-shot lead on the back nine, Day made amends to clinch his 12th PGA Tour victory in style ahead of Americans Nick Watney and Aaron Wise.
The Australian birdied the 16th and then took aim at the par-three 17th hole with a seven-iron from 230 yards.
His ball landed some 40 feet short of the pin, took a huge first bounce and finally clattered against the bottom of the flagstick on the fifth bounce.
Day was unlucky not to make a hole-in-one, but the stick also saved his ball from rolling off the back of the green.
The ensuing 3-foot birdie restored his two-shot lead and he parred the last to finish at 12-under 272.
Day rated the victory one of the best of his career, not because of the quality of his play but more due to his ability to get the job done without his best game.
“I had no idea where the ball was going today, especially off the tee,” he said in an interview on the 18th green.
“I missed a lot of fairways, missed a lot of greens. My short game stood the test, which is nice. This is probably one of the best wins I’ve ever had, just because of how hard everything was today.”
It is only two years since Day was dominating the game, but he slightly lost his way and surrendered the spotlight.
However, a win at Torrey Pines in January showed that he was back in business, and his Quail Hollow victory is projected to elevate him to seventh in the world rankings.
Day, 30, acknowledged that plenty of doubts crept into his head when he bogeyed the 13th and 14th holes on Sunday to fall back into a tie with Wise.
“The biggest thing is, you’re playing mental games with yourself,” he said.
“Your subconscious is sitting there going, ‘You’re going to fail, you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail.’
“I kept on saying to myself, ‘No, just forget about those thoughts, keep pushing, keep pushing and give yourself opportunities.’
“I was putting great, pretty much all week and had a lot of good opportunities coming in.”