Jason Day finishes 2nd in PGA Championship title defense
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) As he walked down the 18th fairway after setting himself up for a potential eagle, Jason Day searched for a scoreboard. When he saw he was three shots behind Jimmy Walker, Day flipped his putter in the air and didn't catch it as it dropped to the ground.
He pretty much knew he wasn't catching Walker, either, in the PGA Championship.
The defending champion had said, after completing his first 18 holes on a marathon closing Sunday at Baltusrol, that he was ''excited'' for the afternoon chase. As darkness closed in, though, not even sinking that eagle putt on the finishing par 5 was enough for the world's No. 1 player.
''I didn't know he had taken a three-shot advantage,'' Day said. ''I didn't know if he holed the putt before my shot or after my shot because I didn't hear anything, really. All I knew was that I assumed I was only two shots back going into 18.
''I hit a great 2-iron down there (off the tee) and I just said, `Let's just try and finish off with a bang, try to give him something to think about, and just keep pushing forward. The 2-iron into the green was probably one of the best 2-irons I've ever hit into a par 5, especially under the circumstances. It was nice to get the eagle, just to try and make Jimmy think about it, but obviously Jimmy just played too good all day. The birdie on 17 was key for him.''
Day was wearing a big smile as he left the green with a 13-under 287 total and a final-round, 3-under 67. He shared hugs with Jordan Spieth and Ricky Fowler, then lifted his 4-year-old son, Dash, who was crying.
Day - and Dash - watched on TV as Walker came to the 18th green needing a par on the course's easiest hole. Walker matched Day's 67 with his first bogey-free round in a major despite an off-target second shot into 18.
Then the Australian made his way to greenside to congratulate Walker after the American's 3-footer fell for the victory.
''Great stuff, mate,'' he told Walker.
''Let's start off, he's a tremendous bloke. Me and him have been, like, (RV) bus partners for a while now. We text each other all the time about him getting a new bus, and I'm showing him mine. We're just talking about buses all the time. We're always parked right next to each other, always hanging out. All the major championships, we see each other all the time.
''So you know, obviously he's a top bloke.''
Day fell short mainly because he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the final round after beginning it one shot behind Walker, who won his first major - just as Day did a year ago in the event at Whistling Straits. The driver failed him on both the opening hole and on No. 3 as he ''heeled'' the drive on No. 1 and ''toed'' it on No. 3.
''They are two blemishes, but stuff like that can kind of relax you sometimes, and for me it did,'' said Day, who made three birdies and the final eagle without any more bogeys. ''I kind of got ... underway with the rest of my game and played pretty solid golf from there.''
Playing 36 holes to finish off a major is no easy task, and Day was proud of back-to-back 67s. Weather issues on Saturday played havoc with the schedule, and the two-man groups from the third round remained together for the fourth regardless of scores.
That could have taken away some drama, and Day said he would have enjoyed being in the final pairing with Walker. But he also recognized it might not have made a difference.
''One guy this week was better than me.,'' Day said.
''But it would have been nice to be able to play in the last group with him, just to be able to go back and forth with him, maybe put a little bit more pressure on, because usually that becomes into kind of a match-play format. More mistakes or crucial moments can happen in situations like that.
''So it would have been nice, but we all understand we were trying to get the championship in.''