SAN DIEGO – Two feet away from chipping into the water, Jason Day turned a good break into a big win Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open when he won a four-man playoff with a par on the second extra hole at tough Torrey Pines.
Day's gamble in regulation looked as if it might backfire when he went long of the green on the par-5 18th, and his chip out of deep rough raced down the hill, over the front of the green and was headed for the water when it stopped at the hazard line. He got up-and-down for par and a 2-under 70.
Day and J.B. Holmes each made birdie on the 18th in the playoff, while Scott Stallings and Harris English were eliminated with pars. On the second extra hole at the par-3 16th, Holmes went over the green, chipped to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Day hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made par for his third PGA Tour victory.
Day moved to No. 4 in the world, just ahead of Adam Scott, and became the highest-ranked Australian for the first time.
''It's an amazing feeling,'' Day said. ''I've been working so hard for this. I was visualizing myself holding the trophy, just like I did at the Match Play. I'm really proud of myself to hang in there and grind it out.''
Day's decision on the 18th in regulation wasn't the only choice that was second-guessed. Holmes, needing a birdie to win, laid up from 235 yards in the fairway and narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie attempt. He closed with a 72.
It was only the second stroke-play victory on the PGA Tour for the 27-year-old Day, who is in his eighth year. Loaded with talent, the Aussie has been hampered by more injuries than he cares to remember. Even when he won the Match Play Championship last year in Arizona, he was playing with an injured wrist that kept him out of every tournament but the Masters for the next three months.
His health was a big priority this year, and so was winning.
''It's a good start to the year,'' Day said. ''Hopefully, I can stay healthy.''
English and Stallings were eliminated on the first extra hole. Stallings had to lay up from the left rough, and his 15-foot birdie putt turned away. English drove well to the right, but his short iron back to the fairway was too strong and settled on the border of the first cut and 4-inch grass. He couldn't get any spin on the ball, and was left with a 60-foot birdie putt from the back of the green to stay alive. It stopped a few inches short.
The 16th was pivotal for Day twice on Sunday. In regulation, he holed a 50-foot birdie putt to get back in the game.
Day was among seven players who had at least a share of the lead on a Sunday that was more about survival than a shootout. It was the first time that a single-digit score under par - 9-under 279 - won on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose (4-under 276) at Congressional last summer.
Charles Howell III (68) and Alex Prugh (71) each missed birdie chances on the 18th and finished a shot out of the playoff.
Stallings missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th and closed with a 69. English got up-and-down from a bunker for birdie and a 72 to get into the playoff.
Day and Holmes, meanwhile, had different ideas about how to play the par-5 closing hole.
Day was in the first cut of rough and chose to hit 3-wood to clearly the water, taking his chances with trouble behind the green. It nearly cost him. Holmes, among the longest hitters in golf, was tied for the lead and could have won with a birdie. He laid up with an 8-iron, but his wedge was too deep and left him a downhill birdie putt from 20 feet that grazed the edge of the cup.
Jimmy Walker, in his first start since a nine-shot win at the Sony Open, had a brief share of the lead. He had two bogeys on the back nine for a 73 and finished two shots out of the playoff along with Martin Laird, Shane Lowry and Nick Watney.
DIVOTS: The tournament honored Billy Casper, who died Saturday night, with a picture of him on the first tee and flowers. Casper grew up in San Diego. Tributes continued to pour in, including one from Arnold Palmer, who lost a big lead and the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. ''He was a better player than most people gave him credit for being and is going to be sorely missed in the golf world,'' Palmer said. ... The final-round scoring average was 74.05.