US PGA: Jason Day wins maiden major title
After much heartbreak the Australian held off Jordan Spieth for breakthrough win
Jason Day celebrates after winning the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Day held off Jordan Spieth to win his first major title. Photo:Jae Hong/PA
Finally, deliverance day arrived for Jason Day! The 27-year-old Australian - who had no fewer than nine top-10s in past major championships - discovered the secret to unlocking the mystery with a three strokes winning margin over runner-up Jordan Spieth in this 97th US PGA Championship.
If there was any consolation for Spieth, already crowned US Masters and US Open champion in this stellar year, it was that he usurped Rory McIlroy as world number one in the rankings.
Nope, this time it was all about Day, who had tears in his eyes before he even finished up. A short tap-in par putt for a 67 gave the 27-year-old a record low score in a Major of 20-under-par 268. It moved him up to number three in the world, although it was claiming the large Wanamaker Trophy that was by far the bigger deal.
On this occasion, Day, a player who first knocked on the door in the Majors when finishing runner-up in the Masters back in 2011, was unshakable. His mind was strong, deliberately visualising over every shot; and his play was supreme, especially off the tee. His drive on the 18th, which effectively closed the deal, was the seventh of greater than 300 yards in a final round masterclass that, at times, even had Spieth giving him the thumbs-up of affirmation.
Day - who had shared the lead heading into the final round of both the US Open at Chambers Bay, where he was troubled by vertigo, and the Open at St Andrews only to falter to ninth and fourth respectively - made no mistake here, starting the day with a two stroke lead and steadily putting further daylight between himself and his pursuers.
More often than not, Spieth was the one who was the principal chaser. But Branden Grace and Justin Rose too assumed turns in trying to catch Day. There was to be no catching him, however. Day probably knew that fate was calling him when he rolled in a 50-footer for birdie on the seventh, his fourth in a quick-fire, aggressive assault. That putt moved him four strokes clear of Spieth, and he avoided any disasters.
As it turned out, Day’s round of seven birdies and two bogeys got him home safely where, grabbing a towel from his caddie Colin Swatton to wipe away tears, he tapped in the putt before accepting the congratulations of Spieth and, then, being embraced by his young son Dash and wife Ellie.
Day made the job look easier than it was. Dustin Johnson had started his round with a quadruple bogey eight - what is known in the trade as a Snowman - and Tony Finau’s challenge was undone by a triple bogey seven on the ninth. Elsewhere, two of the main pursuers, Grace (on the 10th) and Rose (on the 13th) ran up double-bogeys that stalled them.
The only time that Day displayed any signs of nerves was in playing the par 4 ninth, where he fluffed a 52-degree wedge. He left it some 30 yards short of the flag, but showed his fortitude with a chip and putt to salvage par. It was a critical par save, as he continued the momentum of a front nine of 33 into the homeward run. Spieth battled gamely, but in vain.
Rose, who finished fourth, admitted: “The golf course doesn’t really respect or recognize past major wins or anything like that. Each week you’ve got to build a new week.It’s exciting for golf right now. I think golf is in a great spot. Rory, Jordan obviously have been leading the way. Jason has been knocking on that Majors door for a long time. Really happy this happened for him today. If it wasn’t me, I was kind of pulling for Jason. It’s just good for golf.”