AUSTRALIAN Jason Day’s peerless performance around Whistling Straits this week was a 27-year old finally scaling a mountain he’d previously failed to conquer.
The Queenslander’s thunderous victory answered the question of when, not if, the reliable and gritty Day would get his hands on one of golf’s most coveted prizes.
But the victory also poses a different question – have fans just witnessed the greatest year for Australian golf at the majors in history?
In 1986 Greg Norman won the Open Championship, tied second at Augusta, conceded a 54-hole lead at the US Open and dropped five shots on the final day to be runner-up at the PGA Championship.
But since then, Australian golf has never balanced quantity with such quality in the year’s four majors.
This year our golfers have consistently produced feats seldom seen by this generation of bleary-eyed lookers-on.
The Southern Cross was on major championship leader boards this year almost as often as it shines in the night sky.
The only difference was, on the leader boards, there was often more than one.
The scene at Australian golf’s greatest crescendo, Augusta National, was arguably our low-point in 2015.
Jason Day’s first-round 67 in early April saw him in a share of second, before a 21-year old Texan grabbed golf’s most fabled tournament by the scruff of the neck.
Day was best placed in a tie for 28th, while fellow Queenslanders JOhn Senden and Adam Scott were two strokes further back in a tie for 38th.
Geoff Ogilvy was T48 while only Antonio Murdaca missed the cut. Not the start the Australian contingent would have wanted, but Augusta giveth and Augusta taketh away.
PGA Championship: final round wrap
In June, golf’s hottest new thing showed the world was up his green jacket sleeves at the US Open.
Spieth sent the historians scrambling for the record books, but there was a flock of Australians at Chambers Bay breathing down his neck.
2013 Masters champion Adam Scott thundered home in the final round with a 6-under 64 to leap into a tie for fourth.
He was joined by 21-year old Cameron Smith, who was the only player to shoot par or better in every round that week.
Thanks to that 3-wood on the 72nd hole, Smith will be seen far more on the PGA Tour next season.
Day himself had a share of the 54-hole lead at Chambers Bay, despite suffering from an episode of vertigo on his last hole before the weekend’s action.
He finished T9 with a 4-over final round, and subsequently made the mental strength he showed on Sunday at the PGA Championship even more impressive.
John Senden joined in on the fun by finishing T14, while Victorian and former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was one stroke further back at T18. Corowa’s Marcus Fraser was T64.
Five Australians in the top 18 was some return, but this was no flash in the pan.
Golf’s oldest major returned to golf’s oldest course and a mammoth 15 Australians went to St Andrews smelling Claret.
Open Championship heartbreak struck Warrnambool’s Marc Leishman as he was one-third of a playoff that he never really looked like winning.
Weekend rounds of 64 and 66 saw Leishman rifle into contention, while perennial top 10 finisher Day was one stroke back of joining the playoff thanks to 12 consecutive pars to finish.
Adam Scott couldn’t banish his Open Championship demons as he pushed too hard on Sunday to finish T10. Marcus Fraser had a career-best finish at major championships, coming T20.
New South Welshman Matt Jones was T30 along with compatriot Steven Bowditch.
John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy and Scott Arnold all finished in a tie for 40th, making it nine Australians inside that mark. Greg Chalmers and Brett Rumford also made the cut.
Today at Whistling Straits, Australia’s best-performed golfer for the last 12 months became its best golfer going forward.
Jason Day shed the tag of being an also-ran and will forever be a major champion after his win at the 97th PGA Championship.
He controlled the year’s final major as the world’s best was snapping at his heels. But it wasn’t just Jordan Spieth.
A tiring 24-hole Saturday was the undoing of Matt Jones, who finished T21, while prodigy Cameron Smith’s T25 finish reminded everyone he would be no one-hit wonder.
John Senden, and Marc Leishman missed the cut by just one stroke, joined by Steven Bowditch and Geoff Ogilvy on an earlier flight home than they would have liked.
Australian golf’s other shining light, Adam Scott, was dimmed by a poor showing and now must find a new putter, a new caddie and a new burst of confidence.
A victory, a playoff loss, a further three top four finishes and a further two top 10s.
Australia’s best golfers have graduated the 2015 major season as one of the top classes ever.
It is hard to quantify the moving parts that make up each and every major championship.
But there are 16 dates you should pencil into your 2016 calendar, for we may see the view from the top of the mountain again soon.
GW Player Profile: Jason Day
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