The 97th PGA Championship, held at Whistling Straits, will be remembered not only for a first time major winner but also for a new scoring record.
If the look of the course for a major championship was familiar, think St Andrews and Chambers Bay, the look of the leaderboard after round one was too, as Dustin Johnson sat at the top. Closely followed by Jason Day, Johnson carded 5 birdies and an eagle during his opening round and once again, placed himself in contention to win his first major. Despite the action at the top of the leaderboard, all eyes were on Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, who both sat on one under par over night.
Memories of the Open Championship came flooding back in round two, as play was suspended and eventually stopped. At the time of suspension, Day was tied for the lead with fellow Australian Matt Jones. It was the latter who took control when play resumed, opening up a two shot lead over Day, with former US Open winner, Justin Rose, tucked one shot further back. As for Dustin Johnson, a round of 73 sent the American tumbling down the leaderboard and he was left six shots adrift of the leader. Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth crept slowly in the opposite direction to Johnson and was now firmly in contention, following a good round of 67.
The third round, witnessed some fantastic rounds of golf, from a number of players. A tremendous round of 64 from Branden Grace catapulted the South African in to contention, as did a 65 by Germany’s Martin Kaymer. Once again, Spieth was not going to denied his time in the lime-light and produced a great round of 65, to move to 13 under par for the championship. All the talk, was now of Spieth winning all three major tournaments played in the United States. However, there was one man sitting above him and two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard was Jason Day, who had carded rounds of 68, 67 and 66. The Australian was getting better as the tournament progressed and showing great consistency.
Spieth entered the fourth and final round, knowing he had a chance to make history, as the only player since Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan, to win three major tournaments in a single year. The young American didn’t disappoint and delivered a round of golf, which on the majority of other days, would have been good enough to win the PGA Championship. Despite some good final rounds from the likes of Robert Strebb, George Coetzee and Brooks Koepka, there was only one man who could top Spieth and that was Jason Day.
The Australian finished with a round of 5 under par, leaving him 20 under for the tournament and breaking the major championship scoring record of Tiger Woods in the process. Day opened off his fourth round in excellent fashion, carding four birdies inside the first seven holes. If he was feeling any pressure searching for that first major championship win, he certainly wasn’t showing it at this stage. Day hit problems at the 8th and 9th holes but recovered well to pick up two further birdies at the 11th and 14th.
Then came a dropped shot at the 15th hole and with Spieth still in contention, the final four holes were set to be a real test of Day’s physical ability under pressure and mental composure. However, Day never allowed the dropped shot at 15 to bother him, as he managed the final two holes superbly to win the 2015 PGA Championship title. It was the first major tournament victory of his career. Although Spieth couldn’t become the third player to win three major titles in the same year, his performance was enough to see him climb to the top of the world golf rankings, displacing Rory McIlroy in the process.
The only other player to put any pressure on Day during the final round was Branden Grace, who was within one shot of the lead after a birdie at the 7th. However, Day responded with birdies of his own to consolidate his position at the top of the leaderboard. As for first round leader Dustin Johnson, the wait for a major title continues as he shot a quadruple bogey at the first, which despite a good round during the middle section of the course, finished off his chances.
As for the winner, the tears were flowing from the eyes of Jason Day, before he had completed his round and this looks set to be the first major title of many for the Australian. Day was also in real contention come the final round at both the Open Championship and US Open earlier this year and could just have easily claimed three major titles, a feat which also eluded Jordan Spieth.