10 Takeaways from the 2015 PGA Championship

By Jesse Reed

Jason Day won the 2015 PGA Championship with a stellar final-round score of 67, smoking the field and beating Jordan Spieth by three strokes. The tournament was hotly contested from start to finish, but in the end it was finally Day’s chance to shine in a major championship.

With that as our launching point, we present the top storylines from the 2015 PGA Championship.

Jason Day finally learned how to finish

Before claiming the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, Day had been known as one of the best golfers to never win a major. He had come close on numerous occasions, with nine top-10 finishes and three runner-ups, but the Aussie never could finish strong enough to pull through with a victory—until now.

Playing with the cool confidence that comes through experience, Day put pressure on the field to catch him all day long. He scored seven birdies and just two bogeys, finishing the tournament with a nice stroll down the 18th fairway and a three-shot lead securely in his pocket.

Afterwards, he was visibly emotional.

“I didn’t expect that I was gonna cry,” Day said (h/t Golf Digest). A lot of emotion has come out because I’ve been so close so many times.”

He finished with the lowest score to par in major championship history.

Beloved by many of his peers, Day’s victory is being celebrated by just about everybody associated with the PGA Tour. Even golf legend Tom Watson got in on the action.

Now with his first major finally out of the way and the monkey off his back, Day might make a run at a few more. The Australian superstar is just 27 years old and has been a force to be reckoned with in major championships for half a decade already.

Jordan Spieth’s 2015 campaign is one for the record books

Spieth came within one shot of making it into the playoffs at The Open last month and three strokes of catching Day at the PGA Championship. Though the young Texan failed to complete the cycle, his performance in the majors this year will go down as one of the best in history.

Combined with his two majors, finishing in fourth place at St. Andrews last month and second place on Sunday, Spieth’s 2015 season was one for the books. His run ranks almost as high as Ben Hogan’s 1953 campaign and Tiger Woods’ remarkable 2000 season, when both won three.

At the age of 22, he is poised to make a legitimate run at Tiger’s 14 majors, and perhaps if his luck holds could challenge The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, who has 18.

Dustin Johnson still doesn’t know how to finish

It seems like Johnson starts out hot in just about every major championship. One way or another, however, he crumbles down the stretch.

On Sunday, on the very first hole, the wheels came off.

Johnson carded a quadruple bogey on No. 1 after it took him four shots to get his ball from the rough just outside the greenside bunker on to the green.

Johnson went on to regain his footing after that near knockout-blow, however, and got red hot down the stretch. At one point, between No. 5 through No. 16, the lanky powerhouse went nine under par, carding five birdies and two eagles.

Finishing with a 69 to finish at 12 under par and a tie for 7th place, Johnson did everything he could to bounce back from his gut-wrenching quad. Ultimately, he could not recover from his devastating mishap, continuing his well-documented struggles on Sundays in major championships.

Tiger Woods might not ever be “back”

Another major championship, another missed cut for Woods, who made it three in a row after making a feeble attempt at cracking the top 10 at the Masters in April.

While the leaders flirted with -10 through two rounds, Woods couldn’t manage even par, carding a 75 on Thursday and a 73 on Friday. He finished the championship tied for 90th place and struggled with every aspect of his game throughout the tourney.

As always, Tiger tried to put a positive spin on his performance.

“I hit it good enough to be where I needed to be, but I putted awful,” Woods said (h/t ESPN). “And I finally figured something out today on the putting green, but the damage had already been done. Finally rolled the ball coming in, and unfortunately it was too little, too late.”

At some point, Woods must realize his time at the top is over. Unfortunately, it’s always “too little, too late” with him these days.

There is still plenty of star power on the PGA Tour as Woods fades

Woods carried the PGA Tour for a decade-and-a-half. He isn’t the hot ticket he used to be, but as he slowly fades into irrelevance there is a new crew of stars emerging that will carry the PGA Tour for years to come.

The Rory McIlroy/Jordan Spieth rivalry will continue to grow. Both young golfers have staying power, and both have the talent to win multiple additional majors as the years wear on. We could indeed be witnessing a rebirth of sorts—a rivalry that resembles the Jack Nicklaus/Arnold Palmer decades-long war in the 1960-70s.

Additionally, Dustin Johnson continues to show up in majors, as do Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watsonnot to mention this year’s PGA Championship winner Jason Day.

Phil Mickelson still has some gas left in his tank

While Tiger’s struggles are continually magnified the longer he goes without winning a major, Mickelson continues to prove he’s relevant—even now at the age of 45.

After a slow start to the tournament, Lefty heated up over the weekend, shooting 66 on Saturday and 69 on Sunday. He jumped from a tie for 61st place at the start of Saturday up to a tie for 18th place by the end of the final round.

As usual, Mickelson employed his famous magical touch around the greens to achieve this feat, including this masterful bunker shot for eagle on No. 6 during Sunday’s action.

It’s been more than two years since Mickelson has won a major championship, but he feels his game is finally starting to round back into shape.

“It’s a process of slowly getting it back,” Mickelson said (h/t USA Today Sports). “It’s been two years since I’ve been at my best and it’s a little disappointing that it’s taken so long. But I’m trying to be patient, and rounds like these help because I see how close I am to finally being at my best.”

Smart money is on Lefty winning at least one more major before his time is up.

Bubba Watson is still hilarious

Every now and again, Watson does or says something that defies explanation. He managed that feat once again during the final round on Sunday. Seeking relief when his ball landed on an ant hill, Watson got into a rather heated debate with a rules official that included some gut-busting commentary.

Is an ant a “burrowing animal” or a “tunnel-making” creature? These were the questions on Watson’s mind. Keep in mind, he was being completely serious when discussing the particulars of this ant hill with the rules official.

After reluctantly accepting the ruling of no relief, Watson’s humorous side emerged when he yelled, “Ow, it bit me!” before hitting his shot off the ant hill.

Watson finished the tournament tied for 21st place after shooting a four-under round of 68 on Sunday.

Justin Rose learned a hard, yet valuable lesson

All professional golfers must learn the simple rule that states “One should never listen to advice proffered from the peanut gallery.”

Rose, unfortunately, learned this lesson late—and it cost him.

After a nine iron on the par-5 11th hole set Rose up for an eagle putt during Saturday’s third round, the British golfer took the advice of a fan in the gallery who told him that putts had been missing left all day. Rose promptly missed his putt right and lost a valuable chance to card an eagle.

I was kind of mugged a little bit by a fan in the crowdshouting ‘everybody has been missing that putt left’. I got up to it and it kind of looked like it could swing quite a bit right to left, and I definitely pushed it a little bit off the blade. I kind of got suckered in to that one a bit,” Rose said via Sky Sports.

Rose performed well through most of the round on Sunday, but a double bogey on No. 13 and a bogey on No. 18  sunk his chances to challenge Day. He finished the tournament at -14 to finish in fourth place.

62 is still the magic number for major championships

Nobody has ever managed to finish a major championship round with a score of 62 or lower.

Hiroshi Iwata of Japan came agonizingly close to achieving this landmark score on Friday during the second round, finishing with a 63.

He was nothing short of brilliant, barring a lone bogey on No. 9 that cost him the chance to secure his spot in history. As it stands, he became just the 25th golfer to card a 63 in a major, which is worth celebrating.

Whistling Straits was missing some teeth

It’s always nice to see birdies manifest themselves in massive quantities. Who doesn’t like watching the field shoot low scores, right?

However, given the fact that the winning scores the two previous occasions in which the PGA Championship was held at Whistling Straits near Kohler, Wis. were -8 (2004) and -11 (2010), it’s clear this year’s setup was a bit too forgiving.

Sixteen golfers finished with a score of -10 or better at Whistling Straits this weekend, and 53 managed to finish under par. Perhaps next time a major championship is held at this course, the PGA might consider toughening things up a bit.

The 2016 PGA Championship will be held at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.

After the low scores this year, you know the course will be set up to challenge these amazing golfers a little bit more than what we saw this year.