Collin Morikawa is all smiles after his major breakthrough – photo Darren Carroll PGA of America
Jason Day has finished in a share of 4th place after a bogey free final round of 66 at the PGA Championship at the TPC Harding Park near San Francisco, finishing three shots behind the eventual winner, Collin Morikawa, who at the age of 23 and in just his second season in professional golf, is a major champion.
Day began the day three shots from the lead held by Dustin Johnson and when he birdied the first he had drawn within two but on a day of low scoring with none of the eventual first 28 finishers over par, the Australian needed to keep moving forward if he was to challenge for the title.
He would produce an impressive final round but it was not enough off hold off the fast finishing Morikawa and Paul Casey, Casey sharing the runner-up place with 54 hole leader, Johnson.
It was however a continuation of a resurgent Jason Day who has now recorded finishes inside the top 7 in his last four PGA Tour starts and continued his progress back up the world ranking from his current 42nd place, to 32nd, having fallen to 63rd six weeks ago.
“Yeah, there’s three holes that I obviously would like to maybe just give myself a better opportunity and that’s 4, 7, and then there’s one on the back side that I — like 15 — no, 16, sorry,” said Day when assessing his round.
“You know, overall, I played solid golf from tee-to-green. Gave myself the opportunities. Although I played great, there’s still a lot more to improve on. I feel like my game was solid enough to get, you know, into a playoff, if not win. Overall, I’m very happy with how things went.
“It was really cool to be able to be in contention again at a major championship on Sunday. It’s just nice to be able to know that the game can handle the pressure of trying to win a major championship.
“I’ve been moving in the right direction over the last four tournaments. I’s like a puzzle, really. Everything is starting to connect and click.”
Adam Scott began the day seven shots behind Johnson and began well with birdies at the 4th and 5th and when he birdied the 10th, a top ten finish appeared a distinct possibility but he would bogey the 12th after coming up short with his approach and finished with 68 and in a share of 22nd place.
It was however a very impressive week given his lack of recent competitive play.
The winner, Morikawa, began the day two from the lead and when he reached the turn in 33 he was on the edge of contention and when he birdied the 10th he would become one of seven players tied for the lead at that point.
Somebody needed to break the deadlock and it would be Morikawa. He pitched in from just off the green at the 14th and then followed up two holes later with a stunning tee shot at the driveable par 4 16th and converted from 8 feet for eagle. It gave him the cushion to play the final two holes with ease, but he played them well anyway and won by two over Johnson and Casey.
“It’s amazing, said the champion. “It’s been a life goal, obviously as a little kid, kind of watching everyone grow up, all these professionals, and this is always what I’ve wanted to do. I felt very comfortable from the start.
“As an amateur, junior golfer, turning professional last year, but to finally close it off and come out here in San Francisco, pretty much my second home where I spent the last four years, is pretty special.
“I’m on Cloud Nine right now. It’s hard to think about what this championship means, and obviously it’s a major, and this is what guys go for, especially at the end of the their career, and we’re just starting.
“So I think this is just a lot of confidence, a lot of momentum, and it just gives me a little taste of what’s to come. I got a taste of this now. Obviously it was a very crowded leaderboard. At one point if you looked at the leaderboard it was all at 10-under and it was a party pretty much. So yeah, this one is going to be very special.”
Cameron Smith was the only other Australian to make the cut and finished 43rd.