It was a case of Aussie Rules with Jason Day scooping an 18th hole skin for a $210,000 winner’s purse in capturing the inaugural MGM Resort Challenge – Japan Skins.
The event finished under lights but it was Day who shone the brightest winning eight skins at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Japan, while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy secured five and four skins respectively, to earn $60,000.
Local Japan hero, Hideki Matsuyama managed just the one skin worth $20,000.
“It was great. I think the back and forth was nice and I honestly think we all played some pretty nice golf out there, so hopefully the fans enjoyed it on TV around the world,” said Day.
“I think overall it was a lovely afternoon, evening. First time I ever finished under lights, so that was exciting.”
The quartet were competing for a total purse of $350,000 with the prize money broken down per hole:
- Holes 1 to 6: $10,000 per skin
- Holes 7 to 12: $15,000 per skin
- Holes 13 to 17: $20,000 per skin
- Hole 18: $100,000
And the final scores were;
- 1st / Jason Day, 8 skins, $210,000
- T2nd / Tiger Woods, 5 skins, $60,000; Rory McIlroy, 4 skins, $60,000
- 4th / Hideki Matsuyama, 1 skin, $20,000
Woods was given the honour of teeing-off first followed by Day and then was there was the loud call of ‘Fore Right’ when McIlroy teed-off with a poor drive, followed by Matsuyama.
The opening two holes were halved and it was Day first to strike as he picked-up $30,000 for a winning birdie at the third hole.
Woods and McIlroy halved the fourth with pars, with McIlroy missing his birdie putt and leaving himself a testy 3-footer for par.
At the par-3 fifth hole Day and McIlroy found water off the tee while the 81-time PGA Tour winning Woods did a mini-Kevin Na and walked it in despite some trash talk from his competitors trying to get in his head to win the $20,000 skin.
Woods and England legend Mike Tindall failed to make the grade, but Matsuyama and Bryan Habana, Day and Aussie captain, George Gregan followed by Brian O’Driscoll who took it right over the pin onto the back fringe, all made birdie. The Irish birdie thanks to a putt from the rugby half of the pairing.
With the hole halved by three of the ‘teams’ (except Woods and Tindal) Woods steps up and wins the eighth hole to collect three skins, bringing him to $60k.
McIlroy hit another errant drive right at the par-4 11th and can be heard saying: “I hope that was the cart path and not someone’s head,” but he and Matsuyama halved the hole with birdies.
Finally, McIlroy got in on the action at the par-4 12th, recording a birdie after a fine shot from the tee that left him with a straightforward putt and picked-up four skins worth a total of $60,000 to join Woods with the most cash so far.
Matsuyama finally joined the party on the 13th with what ended up as his only skin after converting his putt from eight feet, while McIlroy lipped-out from six-feet.
The 14th, 15th and 16th holes were halved and with Day nailing his 12-foot par putt at the 17th, and McIlroy missing from six-feet, the Aussie added $80,000 to his bank account.
All four players remained in contention to win the day at the 18th, but a birdie from Day saw him almost double his purse and secure victory.
McIlroy was asked after the match if the course suited his ‘aggressive’ style of play.
“For the most part. Especially with the way the course was set up, we could fire at some pins. Yeah, it’s good fun. I mean, there’s probably a few holes out there where during the tournament this week we probably won’t hit driver, but it was nice to get driver in our hands and have a hit and have a bit of fun,” he said.
“It was still quite competitive out there. I was definitely rooting for Tiger to hole that putt on the last and go to that extra hole, but it was really good fun. Just really glad to be a part of something like this in Japan.”
“It was a great way to kick off the week.”
Woods summed-up the outing saying: “Well, I enjoyed just being out with these guys and I think that we all put on a pretty good show. No one got shut out, which was great, and I think we made a few birdies.”
“I learned the golf course a little bit on the fly and we got it in, which is great.”
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