Jason Day holds off Spieth and wins PGA
Jason Day watches his
tee shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the
2015 PGA Championship.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)
A year of major heartache ended with
Jason Day breaking through in a major
way Sunday at the PGA Championship.
With at least a share of the 54-hole
lead for the third straight major, Day
never gave Jordan Spieth or anyone else
much of a chance at Whistling Straits.
He closed with a 5-under 67 for a
three-shot victory and broke Tiger
Woods' major championship record for
most strokes under par by finishing at
In tears before tapping in for par, Day
hugged his son and wife and then Spieth,
who earned a small consolation prize
with his runner-up finish. Spieth moved
to No. 1 in the world, ending the
one-year reign of Rory McIlroy.
"I didn't expect I was going to cry,"
Day said. "A lot of emotion has come out
because I've been so close so many times
and fallen short. To be able to play the
way I did today, especially with Jordan
in my group, I could tell that he was
the favorite. Just to be able to finish
the way I did was amazing."
What a journey for the 27-year
He understood hard times as a youth when
his father died of cancer when Day was
12. For all his talent, he was
questioned for winning only one
tournament in five years on the PGA
Tour. With a share of the lead at the
U.S. Open and British Open, he had to
watch someone else celebrate.
Not on this day. Not even close.
Day started the final round with a
two-shot lead and no one got any closer
than that the entire day. His lone shaky
moment came at the end of the front
nine, when he made his first bogey on
No. 8 and then chunked a wedge from the
fairway on No. 9. But he saved par with
an 8-foot putt and was on his way.
And he knew it at the end.
With a three-shot lead on the par-5
16th, Day hit a high draw onto the
green, bit his lower lip and swatted
longtime coach and caddie Colin Swatton
in the arm. That two-putt birdie took
him to 20 under, and two pars sealed the
Woods finished at 19 under when he won
the 2000 British Open at St. Andrews.
Spieth was chasing history again. Woods
and Ben Hogan are the only two players
to win three majors in the same season,
but the Masters and U.S. Open champion
had a tougher time chasing Day.
The 22-year-old Texan missed a pair of
birdie putts early on the back nine, and
he struggled with his driver on the
front nine. But he's not sure it would
have mattered. Day wasn't going to let
this chance get a way, and everyone knew
"It was Jason's day," he said. "He
played like he'd won seven or eight
majors. He took it back. He wailed on
it. It was a stripe show."
Spieth set a record of his own. By
closing with a 68, he set a record by
playing the four majors in 54-under par,
breaking by one the mark that Woods set
in 2000. The difference is that Woods
won two majors by a combined 23 shots.
That also speaks to the depth of golf in
this generation, and Day is the latest
example. He moved to No. 3 in the world,
meaning the top four in the world are
all under 27 and have combined to win
five of the last six majors.
It starts with Spieth, the
second-youngest player behind Woods to
reach No. 1. Spieth got there in his
77th start as a pro. Woods was 21 when
he became No. 1 for the first time in
just his 21st tournament.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Spieth
said. "So much work has been put in.
What a year it's been."
Branden Grace of South Africa had
another mistake on the back nine in a
major that cost him. Grace was tied for
the lead at the U.S. Open when he hit
his tee shot on the railroad tracks and
out-of-bounds at Chambers Bay. This
time, he was two shots behind when he
went long of the 10th green and made
double bogey. He closed with a 69 and
finished third, five shots behind.
Justin Rose got within two shots until
making a double bogey for the third
straight day. He closed with a 70 and
Day faced enormous pressure of having a
lead for the first time going into the
final round, trying to avoid becoming
the first player since the PGA
Championship went to stroke play in 1958
to have at least a share of the 54-hole
lead in three straight majors without
It sure didn't show.
"There wasn't a whole lot I could have
done today," Spieth said.
Day won for the third time this year on
the PGA Tour, one behind Spieth, and
sixth time in his career.
McIlroy made a solid return from an
ankle injury that kept him out since the
U.S. Open. He had a 68-69 weekend and
finished 17th, though it wasn't enough
to stay No. 1
"Honestly, the way Jordan has been
playing and the way I haven't played
much this year ... if he does go to No.
1 today, it's very deservedly so,"
McIlroy said. "I know the golf you have
to play to get to that spot, and it has
been impressive this year."
John Herlong, PGA
WebGolfClub Staff Writer
is Recognized by the
PGA of America