By Ron Patey
Tears dripped down Jason Day’s cheeks as he won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on Sunday, his first career major victory. Not only did they show the Australian’s realization of what he’d accomplished, but they washed away all of his past major championship disappointments. Day put together a record-breaking virtuoso performance throughout the event. The 27-year-old pulverized 300-yard-plus drives with laser-like accuracy, following up his spectacular tee-shots with long iron strikes that proved the usually intimidating course (with more than 1,000 sand traps) to be very getable. And when he didn’t drop putts, he repeatedly scared the hole or lagged to within tap-in range.
The Aussie’s 20-under 268 total was three shots better than runner-up, and freshly minted top player in world, Jordan Spieth. Day also surpassed the record for low 72-hole score in a major by one stroke, a record that Tiger Woods previously set at the Open Championship in 2000. Day can now move past his close-but-no-cigar efforts in the Masters (2011, 2013), U.S. Open (2013) and this year’s Open championship at St. Andrews and prepare for the FedExCup playoffs while he still has that major high.
Although Spieth came second, and didn’t join Ben Hogan (1953) and Tiger Woods (2000) as players who’ve won three majors in a season, this year’s Masters and U.S. Open champ grabbed the world’s top ranking when Rory McIlroy faded to a solo 17th finish. Spieth creeped to within two shots of Day early in the final round, but couldn’t overcome the Australian’s relentlessly awesome play. The 22-year-old Texan also set a record of his own when he posted 54-under par for this year’s four major championships, besting Woods’ 53-under, which he set in 2000.
Next On The Tee: Wyndham Championship
Tiger Woods has officially committed to playing in Greensboro. Woods will start in 187th place and is 292 points out of a playoff spot. The 14-time major champion would need to produce a Hail Mary win at Sedgefield Country Club to make the FedExCup playoffs.
Last year’s FedExCup champion, Billy Horschel, starts his quest for a repeat, coming off a decent T25 in the PGA Championship. Horschel has recorded a solid season so far and sits 43rd in the standings. This time last year is when he began to find his groove, winning the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship and blowing past everyone to claim the FedExCup.
Adam Scott lands in Greensboro with a mission: to figure out how he accomplished top-10s in the U.S. Open and Open Championship before skidding to T45 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Scott missed weekend play at Whistling Straits and finds himself at 91st place in the FedExCup standings. Unless he can get his game squared away this week, he could easily fall below 125th and not contend for the FedExCup.
Sedgefield Country Club (Donald Ross Course) plays 7,127 yards and is a par 70.
Favorites: Billy Horschel, Branden Grace, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey
Players To Watch: Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Martin Kaymer
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.