Jason Day will head to next month’s PGA Championship with renewed belief he can finally break his major duck after joining Australian golf royalty as a Canadian Open champion.
Bouncing back in emphatic fashion from his St Andrews heartache, Day birdied his last three holes to edge out American Bubba Watson by a shot at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Toronto.
Bidding to become the first Canadian winner in 61 years, David Hearn (72) finished a further stroke back in outright third after leading for most of the final round.
Day’s fast and furious finish in a four-under-par 68 gave him a 72-hole winning total of 17 under and came just six days after falling agonisingly short of a British Open playoff by a shot.
“To be able to close like that, it just gives me a lot more confidence going in to the rest of the season,” Day said.
His fourth victory on the US PGA Tour – and second this season after also winning the Farmers Insurance Open in February – vaulted the 27-year-old to a career-high No.4 in the world.
He is also only the sixth Australian to win the Canadian Open, joining Joe Kirkwood (1933), Jim Ferrier (1950, 1951), Kel Nagle (1964), Greg Norman (1984, 1992) and Nathan Green (2009) on the honour board.
But the three-time major runner-up craves much, much more and gets his final chance of the year at Whistling Straights next month to finally break through on one of golf’s four biggest stages.
“My lifelong goal is to get to No.1 in the world. I know that I can’t do that without wins and big wins like this in major championships,” said Day, who slammed the door shut on his rivals on Sunday with a nerveless 22-foot birdie putt at the last.
“The mental focus that I had this week and last week and the way I’ve prepared over the last two weeks, everything that I’ve done, is exactly the make-up that I need going into future tournaments.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to Whistling Straights and really trying to win my first major.”
Day will enjoy a well-deserved week off before resuming his build-up for the PGA Championship from August 13-16 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in his home state of Ohio.
“The last two weeks have been a big grind for me, but it’s all worth it,” he said.
“All the hard work that I put into it, it’s my fourth win of my career and hopefully I’ll have many more.
“But right now I’m just so proud to be the Canadian Open champion.”
Day recorded his first top-10 result at a major at Whistling Straights in 2010, briefly holding a share of the lead on Sunday just a month after making his major debut at St Andrews.
Five years on and the Australian No.1 will be among the favourites after leading the past two majors – including the US Open in June despite battling vertigo – into the final round.
“In the past, it’s been kind of nerve-racking for me to be one of the favourites because you have so much expectation on your shoulders to perform,” he said.
“But this must feel like what Tiger (Woods) did so many times, and it feels good,” he added after his stirring finish in Toronto.
AUSTRALIANS TO WIN THE CANADIAN OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Jason Day – 2015
Nathan Green – 2009
Greg Norman – 1984, 1992
Kel Nagle – 1964
Jim Ferrier – 1950, 1951
Joe Kirkwood – 1933