Day burns way to Match Play semifinals; Fowler next

2014-02-23T00:00:00Z 2014-02-23T10:53:04Z Day burns way to Match Play semifinals; Fowler nextBy Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

His fourth win in as many days was in the books, but Jason Day wasn’t finished.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play semifinalist planned to hit balls, hang out in the clubhouse, work out in the gym, swim in the pool and spend time with his family before nodding off sometime around 9 p.m.

The man who named his son Dash has been doing just that all week, whether it’s blowing through the competition — he defeated Louis Oosthuizen 2 and 1 in Saturday’s quarterfinals at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain — or staying active off the course.

The tournament’s most intense competitor can’t shut it off.

“The moment you think that, ‘Great, I can just relax,’ that’s when the body kind of stops and switches off a little bit,” he said. “I don’t want my body to stop right now. I want to keep going and going and going until we’re done with Sunday.”

Day, the No. 2 seed in the Bobby Jones Bracket, holds two distinctions heading into the final day of Match Play competition: He is both the highest-ranked player remaining and the most feared man in the field.

Nobody this side of Ian Poulter and Tiger Woods plays head-to-head golf with more intensity. Day walks ahead of his opponents, a small thing meant to impart a mental edge. He doesn’t concede putts, even short ones, and he rarely speaks to his opponents.

While Day burns, his opponents wilt.

Saturday’s win improved the Australian to 12-3 all-time in Match Play. Of today’s four semifinalists, he’s the only one to have played in a Sunday group on Dove Mountain. Day fell in last year’s semifinals to Matt Kuchar, then rallied to beat Ian Poulter in the third-place match.

Day has cruised through the first four days of competition this year, topping Thorbjorn Olesen, Billy Horschel and George Coetzee before downing Oosthuizen.

The two were all square through four holes when Day took over. He birdied Nos. 5 and 9 to take a 2-up lead, then matched the South African as he tried to claw back into the match. Both golfers birdied Nos. 14 and 15, then halved the next two holes with pars.

Day won 2 and 1, and Oosthuizen returned to the clubhouse to deal with a balky back. The injury flared up while Oosthuizen hit on the practice tees before Saturday’s match.

“It’s irritating to play (with) something like that in the back of your head, but I’m not making any excuses: Jason played really well,” Oosthuizen said. “I just think it would have been a really good match if I started a little better.”

Day and Fowler will tee off at 7:05 a.m., with the winner advancing to a championship match at noon.

Their semifinal will be a contrast in both style and personality. Fowler has been friendly, even outgoing, all week. During Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Jim Furyk, the Oklahoma State product chatted with a television reporter about his hikes around Dove Mountain. It’s clear that Fowler, a No. 14 seed in the Ben Hogan Bracket, is enjoying his unlikely run to relevance.

But it’s Day who plays like he has something to prove. The tournament’s most feared player said he’ll speak to Fowler today, but won’t say much.

Silence, you see, gives him strength.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Day said. “We’re really good buddies out there. I’ll probably just try to get in my little world again and just find a way to beat him.”

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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