'Clutch' Day savours hard-fought PGA win

Jason Day celebrated his 12th win on the PGA Tour with victory in North Carolina

Jason Day channelled his inner LeBron James and captured his second US PGA Tour title of the season.

Day said he drew inspiration from James's game three buzzer-beater for the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA playoffs before he pulled off his own clutch shot on Sunday.

Leading by a stroke, Day's seven iron hit the flagstick on the 230-yard, par-3 17th hole, setting up a three-foot birdie putt and a two-shot victory over Aaron Wise and Nick Watney at the Wells Fargo Championship.

"That is what I am most happy about," Day said.

"When you are on call to do something good and you pull it off, to be clutch like that, with a lot of heart. ... I'm glad I watched LeBron James this morning."

Day - an Ohio resident who can sometimes be found courtside watching the Cavaliers - fought through some wayward tee shots and self-doubt to shoot a two-under 69 to win at 12-under 272.

"One of the best wins I have ever had," said Day, who never felt on top of his game in the final round.

The 30-year-old Australian missed more than half the fairways - including an ugly hook into the water on the par-4 14th - hit just eight greens in regulation and made four bogeys on the day, squandering a three-shot lead on the back nine.

But he toughed it out on the final three holes at Quail Hollow, nicknamed the "Green Mile," playing them in two under.

It was Day's 12th career PGA Tour win. He won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year after a winless 2017.

The win elevates him from 14th in the world to No.7, and Day said this is a "step in the right direction" toward regaining the No.1 spot as the world's best golfer for this week's Players Championship - an event he won in 2016.

Day's credentials for a return to the top were endorsed by tour great Phil Mickelson, who also shot 69 to finish tied fifth.

"Obviously (Day has) power off the tee, he's a phenomenal driver," Mickelson said.

"And he's a great putter...he's one of the best putters in the game.

"So you put those two things together, and he's not lacking in wedge play, either. ... So he's got strengths in all the areas that he needs."

If Day was expecting a challenge from some of the other high-profile players in the field, it never materialised.

Mickelson opened with two bogeys, failing to capitalise on the momentum from his third-round 64.

Rory McIlroy concluded an up-and-down week with a 71 to finish at three under while Rickie Fowler (73) and Justin Thomas (70) were one shot behind him, in a group tied for 21st which included veteran Australian Greg Chalmers (71).

Tiger Woods was a non-factor too, shooting 74 to finish 14 shots back. He failed to make a birdie in the final round of a tournament for the first time since 2014.