Day wins a major: 5 things we learned at the PGA
SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin — Jason Day posted a picture of the Wanamaker Trophy on his Twitter account along with a message that said everything: “Ding dong the witch is dead.”
Yes, Day finally broke through and won his first major. No more what-ifs for the kid from Beaudesert, Australia.
In breaking through, he went where no other golfer had gone before. His 20-under score to win the PGA Championship set a new major record in relation to par.
And nobody will ever say he took the easy route. He played in the final group with Jordan Spieth and never gave a glimmer of hope to the Masters and U.S. Open champion.
Day’s wife, Ellie, was holding court on the 18th green afterward while their son, Dash, played in the sand trap.
She recalled the long road her husband took from a club-throwing, foul-mouthed 20-year-old to a major champion at the age of 27.
“In the last couple years, he’s grown up in a lot of ways,” she said. “And in the last couple months, a switch has flipped. He said, ‘OK, now I’m ready.'”
The victory meant almost as much to Colin Swatton, his 46-year-old caddie and coach, who took the 12-year-old Day under his wing when the golfer lost his father to stomach cancer and nearly wound up on the streets.
“He’s taken me from a kid who was getting in fights and getting drunk at 12 and not heading in the right direction to a major winner,” Day said. “He means the world to me. I love him to death.”
Five other things we learned at the PGA Championship, the season’s final major:
CAN’T BEAT FUN AT THE OL’ GOLF COURSE: Day’s win was the highlight, but maybe not even the most entertaining moment.
— Matt Jones hit it off the artificial turf in the hospitality tent.
— John Daly hit three shots into Lake Michigan, then helicoptered his 6-iron in after them.
— Phil Mickelson played slip and slide on the hilly terrain of Whistling Straits.
A NEW NO. 1: Spieth was denied in his effort to emulate Tiger Woods and win a third major in a calendar year. But he called this his easiest loss ever, mainly because Day played so well.
The 22-year-old Texan also walked out of Whistling Straits at No. 1 in the rankings at the expense of Rory McIlroy, and with a new piece of history. He finished 17 under to go 54 under this year in the majors, breaking the record Woods set in 2000 when he won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA.
SPEAKING OF TIGER: He missed the cut again, the first time in his professional career he failed to make the cut in three majors in a year. His game is adrift, and so are his plans for this week.
He’s signed up for the Wyndham Championship, which would give him a long shot to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. But upon leaving Saturday, he said he had to think about it and decide whether he wants to play in the next few days.
Even if he skips it, he says he’ll play more golf in 2015 — overseas and in some end-of-season events.
RORY’S ANKLE: McIlroy finished 9 under and in 17th place upon his return from a 53-day layoff after rupturing a ligament in his ankle while playing footie during his off time.
He said it didn’t hamper his play and won’t be a hindrance going forward. He also plans to continue playing soccer when time allows.
THE 17-HOLE MAN: Dustin Johnson has perfected the art of playing 17 good holes on Sunday at Whistling Straits.
Five years ago, it was his debacle on No. 18 — when he grounded his club while standing in a bunker — that cost him a chance at a playoff.
On Sunday, he opened with more trouble in the sand. He needed three shots to get from a bunker on No. 1 onto the green and shot a quadruple-bogey 8. He went 7 under the rest of the day and finished tied for seventh.
The next major is eight months away — April 7-10 in Augusta.