- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Jason Day made his return to No. 1 in the world feel even sweeter Sunday by winning the Dell Match Play.

Day outlasted Rory McIlroy in an epic battle in the morning semifinals by making a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole. The championship against Louis Oosthuizen turned into a victory lap at Austin Country Club.

And to think Day thought about pulling out Thursday morning when his back seized up on him. Three days later, he looked better than ever.

Day pulled ahead with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth hole, stretched his lead to 3 up at the turn and was relentless with his power and short game the rest of the way. He closed out Oosthuizen with a wedge to 3 feet for a conceded birdie on the 14th hole and a 5-and-4 victory.

It was the largest margin in the championship match since Tiger Woods beat Stewart Cink, 8 and 7, in 2008 at Dove Mountain in a 36-hole match.

Day was assured of the No. 1 ranking when Jordan Spieth lost Saturday morning in the fourth round and Day won his quarterfinal match that afternoon.

Day joined Woods and Geoff Ogilvy as the only multiple winners of the Match Play. Along with replacing Spieth at No. 1, the 28-year-old Australian figures to be the favorite when he goes to Augusta National next week to start preparing for the Masters on April 7-10. Day, coming off a victory last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has won six of his last 13 tournaments dating to the PGA Championship.

Oosthuizen beat Rafa Cabrera Bello 4 and 3 in the semifinals. In the third-place match, Cabrera Bello topped McIlroy 3 and 2.

KIA CLASSIC

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) - Lydia Ko won the Kia Classic at Aviara, reaffirming her position as the top player in the world heading into the first major championship of the season.

Ko birdied the final three holes for her third straight 5-under 67 and a four-stroke victory over second-ranked Inbee Park.

A week after finishing second in Phoenix in the Founders Cup, Ko headed to Rancho Mirage for the ANA Inspiration with her first LPGA Tour victory of the year and 11th overall. The 18-year-old New Zealander also won the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open in February.

Ko finished at 19-under 269.

Park closed with a 67. The South Korean appears to be over the back problem that forced her to withdraw from the first event of the season. She tied for 30th in Thailand and Singapore in her first events back and missed the cut in Phoenix.

PUERTO RICO OPEN

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) - Tony Finau won the Puerto Rico Open for his first PGA Tour title, beating Steve Marino with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff at windy Coco Beach.

The 26-year-old Finau won with his third straight birdie on the par-5 18th, blasting out of the back bunker to 3 feet. Marino was just off the back edge of the green in two, but left his putt from the fringe 4 1/2 feet short and missed his birdie try to the right.

Finau and Marino each shot 2-under 70 to finish at 12-under 276. Marino birdied the 18th to tie Finau, and got into the playoff when Finau missed a 6-foot birdie putt.

Finau and Marino each birdied the 18th on the first two playoff holes.

Ian Poulter and Mexico’s Rodolfo Cazaubon finished a stroke out of the playoff.

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