A TEARFUL Jason Day produced a resilient final round to stave off the challenge of newly-crowned world No1 Jordan Spieth to lift the US PGA Championship and secure the first Major title of his career at Whistling Straits last night.
Record-breaker Day became the first player to win a Major with a score of 20 under par after a final round five-under-par 67 secured a three-shot victory over Spieth, who in the process dethroned Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings.
Much has been made of Australian Day’s near-misses at Majors. He has been a model of consistency in those tournaments and has now recorded 10 top-10 finishes in the 20 Majors he has completed, including three second-place finishes.
But this was his third straight Major at which he has either led or had a share of the lead at the end of the third round, so the question remained whether he could get over the line on the biggest stage.
“I didn’t expect I was going to cry but a lot of emotion has come out because I have been so close so many times in Major championships and just fallen short, really close,” said Day.
“To be able to play the way I did, especially in tough conditions with Jordan [Spieth] in my group, I could tell he was the favourite. So to play the way I did and finish the way I did, it’s just amazing.”
Day enjoyed a shot advantage heading over Spieth heading into yesterday, while the American was bidding to become only the third man, after fellow countrymen Ben Hogan in 1953 and Tiger Woods in 2000, to win three Majors in the same calendar year.
By the time the 27-year-old had completed his first nine holes, he had extended that advantage by a stroke from England’s former US Open winner Justin Rose, after four birdies were offset by a solitary bogey.
Rose’s progress was checked by a double bogey on the 13th hole, at which stage the baton passed to Spieth and Branden Grace to jockey for the role of Day’s closest rival.
That accolade ultimately went to 2015 US Open and Masters winners Spieth, who finished 17 under, while Grace, who was hoping to assume the status of only the second South African to win the US PGA, ended on 15 under, a shot ahead of Rose.
India’s Anirban Lahiri and Brooks Koepka of the United States were tied fifth on 13 under, while a shot further back were George Coetzee and American duo Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy lost his world No1 status to Spieth after finishing 17th, despite saving his best round until last, with a three-under-par 69.
■ -20 Jason Day
■ -17 Jordan Spieth
■ -15 Branden Grace
■ -14 Justin Rose
■ -13 Brooks Koepka, Anirban Lahiri
■ -12 George Coetzee, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson
■ -11 Robert Streb, Tony Finau
■ -10 David Lingmerth, Brendan Steele