• Jason Day wins first major at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits
  • The Australian is the first man to win a major with a score of -20 under par 
  • Jordan Spieth was second but will replace Rory McIlroy as World No 1

Derek Lawrenson for the Daily Mail

History was made beside the shore of Lake Michigan on Sunday and while it was not the page anticipated as Jordan Spieth fell valiantly short, it was composed in momentous fashion nonetheless as Jason Day became the first man in major championship history to post a total of 20 under par.

The 27-year-old Queenslander, so near so often in recent Grand Slam events, put the experience to good use to hold off his playing partner Spieth and make the 97th USPGA Championship his breakthrough triumph.

Australia Day, indeed. 

Jason Day was visibly emotional as he sealed his first ever major victory in the US PGA Championship

Day hoists the Wanamaker Trophy aloft after winning the final major of the year at Whistling Straits

The 27-year-old Day kisses the trophy after finally sealing his first ever victory in a major tournament

The 27-year-old Day kisses the trophy after finally sealing his first ever victory in a major tournament

Day finished three shots clear of Jordan Spieth and is the first man to win a major with 20-under

Day finished three shots clear of Jordan Spieth and is the first man to win a major with 20-under

Day was greeted by his son, Dash and his pregnant wife on the 18th green after securing his triumph

Day was greeted by his son, Dash and his pregnant wife on the 18th green after securing his triumph

For Rory McIlroy, there was not only the loss of this PGA title to digest but also the World No 1 ranking he held for just over a year. Second place was good enough for Spieth to claim it, and only one man (Tiger Woods) has reached the summit at a younger age than the 22 year old.

McIlroy led the plaudits. ‘The way Jordan has played this year I don’t think anyone could argue he deserves it,’ said the Northern Irishman, who rounded off his comeback with a 69 for a manifestly decent top 20 showing.

Spieth knew walking down the 18th that he had reached the summit. ‘It feels an unbelievable accomplishment and I’m so proud,’ he said. ‘What a year it has been.’

It says everything about how well Day and indeed Spieth played that McIlroy had thought at the start of the week that a total between 10 and 15 under would win. Day began on the higher of those totals and built on it by five strokes, as he finished with a 67. 

Spieth was not quite at his best as he tried to become the youngest man to win three majors in the same season but that incredible short game kept him interested until the death. But it was Day who held on for a most deserved success by three strokes.

Confirmation all but came when he knocked a putt from long range at the 17th to tap-in distance away. Spieth gave him a thumbs-up sign after that one, showing the classy Texan knows how to lose as well as how to win.

Day broke down in tears at the end. 

‘I didn’t expect to cry but that just shows you what it means to me to win,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a few close things and now it feels so special to get over the line and win one. The fact that I managed to hold off a player as good as Jordan, after the year he has had, just makes it mean even more.’

South African Brandon Grace finished third after a 69 and then came England’s Justin Rose in a gallant fourth after a 70. His challenge came and went in the space of 15 minutes. After birdies at the 10th and 11th he had an 8ft putt at the 12th to apply the screw but missed it and followed it up at the 13th with his third double bogey of the week. 

Day raises his club in celebration at Whistling Straits
Day hugs his caddie, Colin Swatton, after securing victory

Day celebrates victory with his caddie Colin Swatton in the immediate aftermath of victory

Jordan Spieth (left) congratulates Day on winning at the end of his round on Sunday

Jordan Spieth (left) congratulates Day on winning at the end of his round on Sunday

Spieth's finish of second is enough to see him replace Rory McIlroy as World No 1 in the golf rankings

Spieth’s finish of second is enough to see him replace Rory McIlroy as World No 1 in the golf rankings

Branden Grace of South Africa finished in third on -15 under, five shots away from winner Day

Branden Grace of South Africa finished in third on -15 under, five shots away from winner Day

England's Justin Rose finished fourth but his hopes of winning were derailed by a double-bogey on 13

England’s Justin Rose finished fourth but his hopes of winning were derailed by a double-bogey on 13

DAY’S PLACE IN THE RECORD BOOKS

20 under: Jason Day, US PGA (2015)

19 under: Tiger Woods, Open (2000)

18 under: Nick Faldo, Open (1990); Tiger Woods, Masters (1997); Tiger Woods, US PGA (2000); Tiger Woods, Open (2006); Tiger Woods, US PGA (2006), Jordan Spieth, Masters (2015)

17 under: Jack Nicklaus, Masters (1965); Ray Floyd, Masters (1976); Steve Elkington, US PGA (1995); Rory McIlroy, Open (2014)

16 under: Tiger Woods, Masters (2001); Phil Mickelson, Masters (2010); Louis Oosthuizen, Open (2010); Rory McIlroy, US Open (2011); Rory McIlroy, US PGA (2014) 

Still, there was not an awful lot he could reproach himself about following his third top six finish in the majors this year. The 34-year-old will always be better suited to majors when par means more than it did here and he will add to the US Open title he won in 2013 if he keeps the faith.

As for Day, he had those moments of fortune winners always look back on. At the 5th he looked to have pulled his short birdie putt but somehow it still dropped below ground. At the 7th, he holed an outrageous 50 footer. Alongside that, he played so many quality shots it was only right he got the chance to complete a fairytale story of his own.

Day, remember, was the man struck down by a nasty attack of vertigo during the second round of the US Open in June. He battled so bravely it was only at the end that he fell away. At the Open he finished one shot out of the play-off as he notched his sixth top five finish in 20 appearances at the majors. That one rankled as he left a birdie putt on the final green short but here, at his 21st, he found the key to the door.

McIlroy’s response to this lost summer that has seen so many trophies slip away will be a busy autumn as he bids to wrest that number one crown back from Spieth. The 26-year-old will resist the temptation to play in all four FedEx Cup play-off events that begin in ten days in New Jersey, taking on board his fitness coach Steve McGregor’s advice that he needs a fortnight’s rest following this arduous examination for his ankle over this exceedingly hilly venue.

Thereafter, it will be a hectic three months. Although he said he was only planning to play in two of the last four events that complete the Race to Dubai, my understanding is he will almost certainly add one to that tally and maybe even two.

Rory McIlroy said he was happy with his comeback from an ankle injury but admitted he lacked sharpness

Rory McIlroy said he was happy with his comeback from an ankle injury but admitted he lacked sharpness

McIlroy will take two weeks off after competing at Whistling Straits but may soon increase his schedule

McIlroy will take two weeks off after competing at Whistling Straits but may soon increase his schedule

McIlroy says he has some residual swelling on his ankle but felt no discomfort while playing this week

McIlroy says he has some residual swelling on his ankle but felt no discomfort while playing this week

McIlroy pronounced himself satisfied with his return. ‘I’m walking away happy with the way it went,’ he said. ‘Obviously I didn’t get myself into contention but considering six weeks ago I wasn’t able to walk it’s not a bad effort. There’s some residual swelling with my ankle but I’ve had no discomfort at all.

‘If I’ve one regret from the week it is that I was unable to take advantage of the benign conditions on Friday but lacking a little sharpness was to be expected. Right now the focus is just getting my game back the way I think it has to be to win tournaments like this one.’ 

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Who is this week’s top commenter?
Find out now