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The final 72-hole leaderboard for the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits Golf Course is in. Australian Jason Day shot a final round 67 to win his first major championship (congratulations) by three strokes over runner-up Jordan Spieth. Here are my thoughts on the champion and some notable golfers near the top of the leaderboard:
Winner: Jason Day (-20) – He has set the record for the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par at a major championship in history. It’s been a real journey for him to get to this point. After three runner-up finishes and 6 other top-1o’s in past majors, he was finally able to withstand the pressure. He was composed (up until the 18th green, of course) and he controlled his nerves even with Spieth in his rear-view mirror — something I’m sure his past experiences helped him accomplish.
Was he the longest in the field off the tee this week? Man, he really killed it with the driver. Did you see his 382 yard drive today? I’m not surprised; he’s a long hitter as it is, but when you’re coming down the stretch with a real chance to win a major, you play on adrenaline and you tend to do that. His short game was fantastic, and he made plenty of putts. Every facet of his game was on. I couldn’t think of a more deserving winner, given all that he’s been through with the close calls and vertigo issues.
Jordan Spieth (-17) – Right up there once again in a major championship. I’m curious when the next major will be where he doesn’t contend. He’s a special player with special talent. His second place finish here is enough to ascend him to No. 1 in the world and dethrone McIlroy. There were so many instances today where I thought he would make bogey or worse — several terrible breaks off the green and in bunkers, and every time he managed to get up and down. Unfortunately for him, there was someone else playing a little bit better this week. Such is the nature of golf, and that’s why it’s so hard to win consistently. When you have crazy accuracy off the tee, hit solid iron shots and putt light-out, though (like Jordan), you’re going to put yourself there a lot. I think he’ll be perfectly fine. He’s 22 and his best years are probably still ahead of him.
Branden Grace (-15) – This guy has fire. He’s proven to be a real force to be reckoned with. He had a chance to win the U.S. Open this year (T4), and now he’s come close again here at the PGA. Made a bunch of bombs today on the greens. No wins on the PGA Tour, but six wins on the European Tour. He just hasn’t been able to close out when he’s been in contention. There’s little doubt we’ll be seeing him making noise again very soon.
Justin Rose (-14) – Really blew his chances with a few mistakes, bad breaks and terrible lies on the back nine. To win a major you need a little bit of luck, and he didn’t have it today. He really played solid golf all week. He’s had a phenomenal year in the majors (T2 at the Masters and T6 at the British). He could very well get a few more majors before the end of his career. Classy move for him to congratulate Jason on his way to the scoring tent.
Dustin Johnson (-12) – Be honest: after seeing him make that quad on the first hole, did you really think he would finish at 12-under? I didn’t. He got to 13-under at one point! What a charge he made: 6 birdies and 2 back-nine eagles, but unfortunately the damage had already been done. He needs to eliminate the bad mistakes if he wants to win. I honestly thought he would be in contention after seeing him in the lead after the first round, but it wasn’t to be. Three top-10s in the majors this year; he’s one of the players that are long overdue for one. I hope he doesn’t end up like Sergio Garcia or Lee Westwood in that respect.
Other thoughts: Is it just me, or was this PGA Championship one of the easiest I’ve ever seen? I’m not discounting Jason Day’s stellar play, but there were a crazy amount of guys going low all week. Maybe it was tougher than it looked and the field as a whole was just playing awesome golf. Actually, you know, that would make sense — Pete Dye golf courses can seem easy if you’re playing well, but if you’re off, you’re going to suffer.
In fact, it seems like all four majors this year were relatively easy. I don’t necessarily think that’s wrong, but it would be nice to see the majors play tougher next year.
Have any thoughts or congratulations for Jason, or any other thoughts about this year’s PGA Championship? Discuss in the comments below!