Players Championship becomes order of the Day
MIAMI: World number one Jason Day led from start to finish on Sunday to win the US PGA Players Championship, firing a final-round one-under-par 71 to complete a wire-to-wire victory.
Day matched the TPC Sawgrass course record with an opening-round 63 and followed with a 66 on his way to a 72-hole total of 15-under 273 for a four-stroke victory over American Kevin Chappell.
“This is up there,” Day said when asked the magnitude of his 10th career US PGA triumph in a tournament often seen as golf’s unofficial fifth major. “I just wanted to win this so bad. This could possibly push me over to get into the Hall of Fame one day and I’m just glad I managed to win it.”
The 28-year-old Australian took the top prize of $1.89 million at the $10.5 million event, collecting his seventh win in 17 starts — his fifth in a row when leading after 54 holes.
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“I’m going to hold this memory for a long time,” said Day.
The Aussie made bogeys at the sixth and ninth holes to carry only a two-shot edge onto the back nine, but responded with key birdies at 10 and 12 and another at the par-five 16th to hold off a host of rivals.
“I was really nervous on the front side and it showed,” Day said. “Then on the back side I was able to hold on.”
It was the second start-to-finish triumph of the season for Day, who also led after every round in taking the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Since 1980, only Tiger Woods has had two wire-to-wire US PGA wins in the same year.
Day’s impressive victory run over the past 10 months includes his first major title at last August’s PGA Championship, the Barclays and BMW Championship in last year’s US PGA playoffs and this year’s World Golf Championships Match Play.
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Day, who stretched his margin over second-ranked Jordan Spieth after the American missed the cut, has top-10 finishes in the past four majors and will try to add to his major win total by dethroning Spieth in next month’s US Open at Oakmont.
“I’m very motivated to stay number one,” he said. “This definitely gives me that extension on the gap between one and two and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the year.”
The victory made Day the third reigning world number one to capture the Players, joining Woods and Greg Norman, and the fourth Aussie to win the event after Norman, Adam Scott and Steve Elkington.