Aussie was chasing second win in three years but a meltdown at final hole cost him dear on Saturday
JASON DAY made one of the craziest decisions ever witnessed in a major championship to throw away his chances of winning his second USPGA title in three years.
The former world No 1 followed his 2015 victory by finishing runner-up to Jimmy Walker last year, just a shot behind the Texan.
USPGA CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERBOARD
1. Kevin Kisner -7
T2. Chris Stroud -6
T2. Hideki Matsuyama -6
T4. Justin Thomas -5
T4. Louis Oosthuizen -5
6. Grayson Murray -3
Day also boasts six other top four finishes in the majors, so his meltdown at the final hole in round three at Quail Hollow was even more incredible.
It would have been shocking if a rookie had been guilty of such a brainstorm. For one of the world’s top players to crack up in that manner simply staggered belief.
After hitting his tee shot into the trees down the right of the hole, it seemed inevitable Day would chop his ball back into the fairway and try to get it up and down for par – just as fellow major champion Louis Oosthuizen did a few minutes earlier.
The Aussie was just inches away from a tree, with another one a few yards further away blocking his path to the green, so there seemed no incentive to try anything else.
Unbelievably, Day chose to take on a near-impossible shot, by trying to hook his ball around both trees.
It was no surprise when he blocked it right into a dense wall of bushes, and he was lucky to escape injury after smashing his club against the bark of the tree.
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The farce continued with a penalty drop behind that hedge, which meant all he could do was play a flop shot over them into the ankle deep rough.
A duffed chip and three putts later saw Day end up carding a snowman – a quadruple bogey eight that dropped him from four under par to level par.
A par would have left him just three shots behind leader Kevin Kisner, one of his startled playing partners.
And even if he had failed to match Oosthuizen’s precision with his wedge, a bogey five would not have been a disaster.
His collapse meant 2010 Open champion Oosthuizen is the only previous Major winner among the 15 players below par heading into today’s final round.
That means we are almost certain to see an eighth first time winner in the last nine Majors, especially as Kisner’s closest pursuers are fellow American Chris Stroud and world No 3 Hideki Matsuyama, two men who both tasted victory this time last week.
The fact that ‘moving day’ proved to be one where most of the leaders headed in the wrong direction – or at best, stood still – will be even more galling for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
There were two 67s posted early in the day – and is either Mcilroy or Spieth had signed for a similar score, they would be among the players under par, and could still dream of an unlikely victory.