Tiger Woods took the headlines for most of the week but on Sunday at Torrey Pines it was an epic show from four others that had us enthralled.
And there is still more to come in the narrative as after five extra holes Jason Day and Alex Noren could not be separated, and the pair will return Monday morning to continue in sudden death at the Farmers Insurance Open.
As the leaders made the turn in high winds on Sunday at the South Course, it was clearly a race in four.
Australian Day, Swede Noren and Americans Ryan Palmer and JB Holmes separated themselves at the top and provided an epic grind to the end.
Day was playing ahead of the other three, who were paired together in the final group.
And the Aussie flinched first with a three-putt bogey on 11 and then another bogey on the 15th, dropping him one back of the others.
They all flinched right back.
Almost immediately Noren, Palmer and Holmes all made errors on the 14th hole, making bogey to restore a four-way tie.
Noren steadied but Palmer – who was chasing a fourth PGA TOUR win and first since January 2010 – dropped another shot on the next hole.
Holmes joined him with the bogey-bogey effort.
And then Holmes added a third for good measure, effectively knocking him out of the mix.
Day and Noren couldn’t find another birdie in the closing three holes of regulation, but Palmer made it happen on 18 to make it three players going extras.
The Swede was unlucky. Sitting in the fairway waiting to hit his approach on the 72nd hole, Noren was forced to wait an exorbitant amount of time as Holmes contemplated his play.
The five-time winner, who lost a playoff to Day at the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open, needed an eagle to have any hope of playing on.
After backing off numerous times, Holmes decided to lay-up. And did so in the rough. A birdie left him one shy.
After the long wait, Noren nuked his 3-wood through the green and under a grandstand. The resulting drop left him with a very tough up-and-down to win. He failed.
He didn’t lay blame at Holmes but did say the extra time made him change clubs. He was originally contemplating a hybrid that would not have gone over the green.
Noren did concede it could have brought the water in front of the green into play.
Palmer was knocked out in the first extra holes after failing to match birdies from Day and Noren.
Noren nearly holed a wedge for eagle. Day slid in a 7-footer he knew he needed.
Another trip down 18 left both men with eagle putts. Noren’s from a mile didn’t fall. Day couldn’t win it from 17-feet.
The Australian had chances from 11 and 27 feet on the next two playoff holes to ice it but missed by inches both times.
Clutch 5-foot birdies by both men on the fifth playoff hole in near darkness ensured Monday golf.
‘Alex is playing some tremendous golf. To be able to go through and go shot for shot there was pretty special,’ Day said afterwards.
‘I’m just going to try and get some rest tonight and I’ll play all day tomorrow if I need to get the win.’
Day is aiming for an 11th PGA TOUR title, his last coming at the 2016 PLAYERS Championship.
Noren is in just his second PGA TOUR event as a member (35 total) but has nine wins on the European Tour.
‘I could barely see the last putt, but it’s very enjoyable, this is what I play for, so I’m excited,” he said.
‘It’s like match play coming down the stretch. It’s so important over every shot. Here you need to play aggressive to finish it out.’
The playoff continues at 11am Eastern, 8am local and is slated to begin on the 18th hole before going to the 16th, 17th and 18th again if needed.
Credit: PGA TOUR