Aussie superstar Jason Day has taken out the 2015 Australian Golf Digest Player of the Year Awards at a world-first event held at the Sydney Cricket Ground last night.
The 27-year-old’s remarkable year was acknowledged in front of 100 Australian golf luminaries, including US PGA Tour stars Geoff Ogilvy and John Senden, who all later ventured out on the SCG to become the first golfers to ever swing a club on the famous turf.
“We learnt a lot more about Jason Day’s character in 2015,” says Australian Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Brad Clifton. “Adjectives that spring to mind include resolute, tenacious, insatiable and irrepressible. It will forever be a season remembered for Jason Day finally arriving on the big stage and becoming the world’s best player.”
After beginning the year by winning the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff, it seemed inevitable that Day would break through for a Major victory. Having finished second on three occasions, it was a case of not if, but when.
That all changed when he collapsed with dizziness during the second round of the US Open at Chambers Bay. His short-term future was clouded and he began using medication – possibly for the rest of his playing career – to counter symptoms of vertigo.
Then at St Andrews, Day suffered the heartbreak of finishing one stroke shy of the British Open playoff won by Zach Johnson. He was winning plenty of admirers, but not the titles he so wished.
But what happened next was astounding. Seemingly galvanised by defeat, Day put the disappointment immediately behind him and won the Canadian Open by sinking a 22-footer for birdie on the final hole.
Three weeks later at Whistling Straits on Lake Michigan, Day fended off a spirited challenge by Jordan Spieth to win his first Major, the US PGA Championship. At age 27, he was the second youngest Australian behind Peter Thomson to win a men’s Major.
Day established a new record for lowest score to par in Major championship history with a 20-under-268 aggregate (surpassing Tiger Woods’ 19-under tally at the 2000 British Open). It earned him ‘The Don’, which honours the performance by an Australian that most inspired a nation.
With his thirst for success unquenched, Day went on a tear. He added two more victories – The Barclays and the BMW Championship – and achieved a childhood goal of attaining the world’s No.1 ranking.
Four wins in six starts during which he shot a phenomenal 87-under par with just one score over par in 24 rounds. He separated himself from chasing packs with an awesome display of power and touch – producing one quality shot after another.
When the American season concluded, Day had accumulated five titles and earnings of $US9.4 million.
“In those terms, it was the greatest year ever by an Australian on the US PGA Tour,” says Clifton. “That’s quite some accomplishment given the players that have gone before him.”
Other notable winners on the night included LPGA tour star Minjee Lee (Female Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year) and amateur sensation Ryan Ruffels (Junior of the Year and Amateur of the Year). Peter ‘Chook’ Fowler won the Senior Player of the Year, while Aussie instructor and teacher to world No.1 Jordan Spieth, Cameron McCormick, received the Coach of the Year Award.
- For the full list of award winners, see the January 2016 edition of Australian Golf Digest