Jason Day Wins 2015 PGA Championship
By Burt Carey
Jason Day’s tears started falling even before he tapped in for par at the 72nd hole to win the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits Aug. 16. After a half-dozen Top 6 finishes in professional golf’s major tournaments, the 27-year-old Australian had finally won his first major.
He won it in record fashion, shooting 20-under par, the lowest round ever shot in a major championship, and by defeating runner-up Jordan Spieth, who won two of the other three majors this year. The win also vaulted Day to No. 3 in the World Golf rankings.
Approaching the green on the 18th hole Sunday, Day said he was fighting back tears before settling over a lengthy birdie putt. “I was trying to hold back the tears over the first putt,” Day said. “I didn’t expect I was going to cry. 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.”
He left his putt less than a foot from the hole, and it was apparent to not only the fans in the gallery but millions watching on television that the moment was more than just a little emotional for the Aussie.
Day entered the final round with a two-stroke lead over Spieth, who joined him in the final group of the day. He never let Spieth get close enough to challenge for the title by birdying four of the first seven holes en route to a 5-under 67 and a three-stroke victory. Spieth’s 68 and lone second-place finish moved him ahead of Rory McIlroy as No. 1 in the World Golf rankings.
Branden Grace shot 69 on the day to finish third, and Justin Rose (70) finished fourth.
Day’s dominance on Sunday was capped somewhat early on. At the par-5 11th hole, he powered a massive drive that ended 382 yards down the fairway. “I knew I was going to be playing uphill from there,” Spieth said. “He played like he’d won seven or eight majors. He took it back. He wailed it. It was a stripe show.”
He hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation on the final day, and his putting was sharp. He recorded just 27 putts.
Golf fans will excuse Day his emotional finish. After squandering leads or shared leads after 54 holes in both the U.S. Open and the British Open earlier this summer, he was determined to go home with the Wanamaker trophy and the winner’s purse of $1.8 million.
Then the victor of the 97th PGA Championship shared his life story with the assembled media. He first swung a golf club – a 3-wood his father picked out of the trash – at age 6, then sunk into pre-teen despair when his father died of stomach cancer when Day was just 12. A stubborn boy, Day started drinking and getting into fights, leading his mother to take out a second mortgage so she could afford for him to go off to golf academy and a future. That’s when he met Colin Swatton, who to this day is his coach and caddie.
It was Swatton who twice wrapped Day in his arms on the 18th green to celebrate among the golfer’s tears.
Day’s first major ended years of coming close. He tied for second at the 2011 Masters and finished in second by himself that year at the U.S. Open. He recorded Top 10 finishes at three majors in 2013 and at the U.S. Open in 2014 tied for fourth. He’s won three of the 12 PGA Tour events he’s played this year, and finished in the top 5 six times.
Not bad for a poor kid from Queensland whose mom used a knife to cut the grass when they couldn’t afford to repair their lawnmower. That’s a worry Day’s son, Dash, and wife Ellie will never have.
Picture by Vinod Divakaran
Source: Baret News Wire