Rory McIlroy may have missed out on ringside seats for the big fight in Las Vegas, but the World Number One made amends by giving himself an early birthday present with victory in the WGC - Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco.
McIlroy, who turns 26 on Monday, defeated Gary Woodland 4 and 2 in the final at TPC Harding Park, his third win of the day after completing victory over Paul Casey in the quarter-finals and producing a brilliant finish to get the better of Jim Furyk in the last four.
The four-time Major winner made a scrappy start to the final before a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth took him four up at the turn and seemingly certain to win his second World Golf Championships title after victory in the Bridgestone Invitational last year.
However, after both players birdied the 10th, McIlroy bogeyed the 11th having failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker and Woodland reduced his deficit further thanks to driving the green on the short par four 12th and two-putting for birdie.
World Number 52 Woodland looked like winning another hole after McIlroy bogeyed the 13th, only to miss from two feet for par after a superb recovery from a greenside bunker.
And that proved to be the pivotal moment in the contest as Woodland then three-putted the 14th and made a mess of the 16th to give McIlroy the title.
"I'm really proud of myself with how I showed a lot of character early in the tournament coming back from some deficits," McIlroy said.
"I played really solid golf. I have got on a nice little run in match play. I got a lot of confidence from the way I played against Rickie (Fowler) in the Ryder Cup last year (winning 5 and 4) and just followed it on through into this.
"Obviously I am delighted, a second World Golf Championship and first win in the States this year and so I could not be happier."
England's Danny Willett, who lost to Woodland in the semi-finals, secured third place after beating Furyk 3 and 2 in the consolation match.
McIlroy had earlier eagled the 18th from over 40 feet to see off Furyk in a thrilling last-four tie, and won the fourth hole of the final when American Woodland tangled in thick rough down the left.
The Northern Irishman went two up at the next when he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker and Woodland failed to do likewise.
McIlroy had three-putted the second and third as they were halved in bogeys, but found form with the short stick as he converted from 35 feet at the sixth and half that range on the seventh for unanswered birdies that took him four clear, before holding off Woodland’s charge on the back nine.
McIlroy had wasted little time winning his quarter-final against Casey, needing just one hole to settle the contest after the pair proved inseparable over 21 on Saturday.
After a swift turnaround, top seed McIlroy was back out on the first and birdied again after getting on in two once more.
But this time Furyk was equal to it, holing from 18 feet to keep matters all square.
McIlroy did go ahead at the third, with Furyk failing to save par from off the green.
Former US Open Champion Furyk won the fourth with a par as McIlroy failed to get up-and-down, but he went back in front with a birdie at the long next.
McIlroy spectacularly chipped in at the seventh, but Furyk followed him in for birdie from 20 feet to remain only one down, and then turned the contest on its head with a gain from similar distance on the eighth.
Furyk led for the first time at the turn, McIlroy bogeying the ninth after finding a bunker.
McIlroy squared the contest with a birdie from almost 30 feet at the 11th, and went ahead when Furyk shanked his first approach from the rough at the next.
But the American came fighting back again, hitting his tee shot to five feet at the 13th and converting for a birdie to square the contest once more.
Furyk found another birdie on the 15th from ten feet, and pitched close again at the 16th to leave McIlroy facing the prospect of being two down with two to play – a position he had recovered from against Billy Horschel earlier in the week.
But McIlroy chipped close form the rough and converted from six feet before almost holing his tee shot to the 17th and squaring the contest with the subsequent gain, then converting a tremendous putt to settle the tie after reaching the 18th green in two.