Jason Day's brilliant performance secures his first major
GOLF: After a string of near misses in the past five years, Queenslander Jason Day was beginning to wonder whether his name would forever be on that dreaded list of 'best players never to win a major'.
But after a brilliant final round of five-under par 67 in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the 27-year-old erased the demons to claim his first major, the Wanamaker Trophy.
And he did it in style, finishing on a record 20-under par - surpassing the effort of Tiger Woods who shot 19-under to win the 2000 British Open at St Andrews.
Day said overcoming self doubt earlier this year was the key to his victory.
"I didn't believe that I was one of the best players in the world," Day told APN after holding off dual major champion Jordan Spieth to claim the title.
"But winning this year (the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February) and then backing it up and playing well in the major championships, it felt like I started to turn a corner."
After a disappointing tie for 28th behind Spieth in the Masters, Day was back in contention at the US Open at Chambers Bay.
But after sharing the lead going into the final round, he was unable to overcome the vertigo that almost forced him to withdraw during the event, eventually slipping down into a tie for ninth, again behind Spieth.
It was at the third major of the year, the British Open at St Andrews, where he missed the play-off by a single shot, that Day said he finally came around that corner.
"Something happened to me at the Open Championship," he said.
"I don't know what it was, I don't know how it happened, but I was sitting there on Sunday in the fourth round, and I felt a calmness over me.
"And it just, something clicked inside of me. And since then, I've been calm ever since."
He was certainly calm in the face of extreme pressure yesterday, that was until he bent down to mark his ball on the 18th green, knowing he was one 30cm putt away from finally fulfilling one of his childhood dreams - winning a major championship.
That was the moment he was unable to hold back the tears, knowing he was about to overcome one more challenge, an achievement that would put him in the record books as the fifth Australian to win the PGA Championship.
It seems his life has been littered with challenges, beginning with losing his father Alvin to stomach cancer when Jason was just 12.
He had already found golf, but he soon found alcohol and the wrong crowd, regularly drinking heavily and getting into fights.
Fortunately he linked up with Colin Swatton, the man who helped get his life back on track, became his caddie, the best man at his wedding, the man Day considers as the father he lost as a child, and the man he was able to share yesterday's triumph with.
The pair will now target one of Day's other's goals, becoming the No.1 player in the world.
To do that he will have to get past Spieth who took over the mantle from Rory McIlroy after finishing second at Whistling Straits.
The Texan said he had been stunned by how hard and how well Day hit the ball in the final round, but was happy to achieve his own goal of becoming the world's No.1 ranked player at just 22.
"It was certainly was a lifelong goal of mine that was accomplished today," Spieth said.