Australia’s Jason Day won his first major title with a record score of 20 under par at the US PGA Championship.
Day, 27, shot a closing 67 at Whistling Straits to record the best ever total at one of golf’s four majors.
The world number five saw off a chasing pack that included US Open and Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who finished three shots back in second place.
That was enough to ensure Spieth will overtake Rory McIlroy to become the new world number one.
Branden Grace of South Africa was third on 15 under and England’s Justin Rose finished fourth on 14 under after his challenge faded with a double bogey on the 13th.
McIlroy closed with a 69 to end his first tournament back
at nine under par.
From nearly man to major champion
Day had previously recorded nine top-10 finishes in the majors, six of them in the top four, but held his nerve superbly to finally get his hands on one of golf’s leading trophies.
His final score of 20 under par broke
of 19 under at the 2000 Open Championship.
The Queenslander began the final day with a two-stroke lead and made four birdies before the first blip came at the eighth hole.
Despite the ominous presence of Spieth alongside him in the final group, Day recovered from a desperate mishit on the ninth to pick up further birdies on the 11th and 14th.
He then responded immediately to a dropped shot at 15 with his seventh birdie of the day, and played the treacherous closing two holes superbly.
“I didn’t expect I was going to cry,” said Day. “A lot of emotion has come out just because I’ve been close so many times and fallen short.
“To be able to play the way I did today in tough conditions with Jordan in the group – he was the favourite – to be able to play the way I did was amazing.
“Overall I’m just really pleased with how I played. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Spieth second, but on top of the world
The 22-year-old American might have come agonisingly close to becoming the first man to win all three American majors in the same year, but he had plenty to smile about.
With McIlroy back in 17th place, Spieth had done enough to replace the defending PGA champion at the top of
“It’s as good a consolation prize as I’ve ever had,” said Spieth, whose major finishes this year read first, first, fourth and second.
“It was not easy to dethrone Rory and it’s going to be even harder to try and stay on top.”
McIlroy, who had not played since the US Open in June after rupturing an ankle ligament playing football with friends, admitted Spieth was a worthy number one.
“Honestly, the way Jordan has been playing and the way I haven’t played much this year – I think that was only my 12th or 13th event – it’s very deservedly so,” said McIlroy.
“Winning two majors, winning a couple of other times this year, had a chance at the Open, had a chance today.
“I’d be the first one to congratulate him because I know the golf you have to play to get to that spot, and it has been impressive this year.”
Chasing pack fall short
Among the many stellar names looking to reel in Day, it was unheralded world number 28 Grace who got closest when he moved with one shot after a birdie at the seventh.
Day responded to the danger with three straight birdies, however, and was never again fewer than two shots in front.
Dustin Johnson had harboured hopes of challenging from six shots back at the start of the day, but a horrendous quadruple bogey at the first heralded a bizarre round that saw him drop four shots in the first six holes, and then make five birdies and an eagle within eight holes.
It all added up to a round of 69, a share of seventh place and another major letdown for the world number eight.
Rose looked to be moving into serious contention after four birdies took him to 16 under par by the 11th, only for a double bogey on 13 to effectively end his challenge.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer fell away with a double bogey on the sixth, while the likes of India’s Anirban Lahiri, South African George Coetzee and Americans Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar were too far behind to worry Day, despite fine rounds.
Stats of the day
- Day drove the ball an average 307 yards during his final round – 19 more than Spieth
- Day found the fairway 73% of the time off the tee while Spieth was only on target 64% of the time
- Day moves to number three in the world, meaning the top four are all under 27 and have won five of the last six majors
- Rose’s 14 under total was the same as he managed at The Masters, yet he missed out in both by a combined 10 shots