Jason Day made it worth the wait.
After several near-misses over five years, 27-year-old Day claimed his maiden major title in emphatic fashion on Sunday, producing a major championship scoring record as he won the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by three shots at 20-under-par.
An emotional Day was in tears even before holing the winning putt as he reflected on his long, hard journey from troubled teenager to major champion.
That was why he shared a special, sobbing embrace with his career-long mentor, coach and caddie Col Swatton on the 18th green.
“The path that I was on was never expected for me to be here,” Day said.
I lose my dad at 12, and then meet Colin and have him walk the journey with me and to have him walk up the 18th hole with me was just a special, special thing, that I could never forget.
“It’s just an amazing feeling I have.”
Day had previously finished inside the top-10 nine times in majors and he held the 54-hole lead at the last three majors without closing the deal.
But the Queenslander simply refused to yield ground as he shot a five-under-67 final round to finish at 20-under 268 – beating Tiger Woods’ majors record for the lowest score under par of 19, set at the 2000 British Open at St Andrews.
He moves to No.3 in the world rankings after holding off final group playing partner Jordan Spieth (68), who passes Rory McIlroy to become the new world No.1 with his second place finish at 17-under, following his victories at the Masters and US Open earlier this year.
“That was a pretty amazing accomplishment and that does feel good,” said Day of his scoring record.
“I never knew that I set the record. It’s a fantastic record to hold.
“There’s been such amazing golfers, especially throughout the history of golf, our sport, and to have that record just goes to show the work I’ve put in is paying off.”
Spieth admitted Day was just too good for him in the final round.
“Sometimes there’s not much you can do,” said Spieth.
“It was Jason’s day. He played like he’d won seven or eight majors. He took it back. He wailed on it. It was a stripe show.”
South African Branden Grace (69) was third at 15-under with England’s Justin Rose (70) fourth at 14-under.
Day is the fifth Australian to win the US PGA Championship, joining Jim Ferrier, David Graham, Wayne Grady and Steve Elkington, who last won it in 1995.
He is also Australia’s youngest major winner since Peter Thomson won the second of his five British Open championships 60 years ago.
He now has three wins this year, having already won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the Canadian Open on the US PGA Tour.
Starting with a two-shot lead, Day maintained control of the tournament and responded strongly whenever a nervous moment arose. When he bogeyed the eighth and chunked an approach to nine he remained steadfast, and saved a par to remain clear of the pack.
A bogey on 15 had memories of Adam Scott’s collapse at the 2012 British Open in mind but he immediately bounced back with birdie to seal the deal.
Australia last won a major through Scott at the 2013 Masters. Matt Jones shot 75 to drop to seven-under. Cameron Smith shot 71 to finish at five-under for the week.