Thursday 14 November 2019

McIlroy praise for Spieth and Day

Rory McIlroy dropped to world number two in the rankings (AP)
Rory McIlroy dropped to world number two in the rankings (AP)
Rory McIlroy, pictured, says Jordan Spieth fully deserves top spot in the world rankings

Deposed number one Rory McIlroy said it was "inevitable" that Jordan Spieth would become the world's top-ranked player - and that Jason Day would one day be a major winner.

Praise has poured in for Day after the 27-year-old Australian held off the challenge of American star Spieth to win the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the biggest title of his career.

Day carded a final-day 67 to finish on 20 under par and three shots clear of runner-up Spieth, who may have fallen just short in his bid for a third major of the year but still replaced McIlroy as world number one.

And the Northern Irishman, who finished 17th on nine under as he relinquished his hold on the PGA Championship and top spot in the rankings, was not surprised in the least by those two outcomes.

He wrote on Twitter: "2 inevitable things happened today, @JDayGolf winning a major and @JordanSpieth getting to 1 in the world! Congrats guys!! Inspiring stuff!"

Day himself was in tears even before he rolled in his final putt on the 18th and he was understandably thrilled to finally get his hands on his first major after several near misses.

In the last four years, Day has twice finished runner-up at the US Open and once at the Masters, while being tied for fourth at this year's Open Championship.

The Queenslander tweeted: "Ding dong the witch is dead. #PGAChampionship #winning."

Like McIlroy, Tiger Woods, who has won the PGA Championship four times among his 14 major wins, has been similarly impressed by Spieth and Day - who is now third in the world.

He tweeted: "Game over, very happy for Jason. Great dude and well deserved. Hats off to Jordan, incredible season. Calling it early."

Former US Open winner Justin Rose, who finished fourth at Whistling Straits, added on Twitter: " Another great week in a Major, happy with how I played. (70 -2 =14 4th) Massive congrats Jason Day."

Speaking to the media after the tournament, McIlroy admitted Spieth fully deserved to replace him as world number one .

"Honestly the way Jordan has been playing and the way I haven't played much this year - I think that was only my 12th or 13th event - it's very deservedly so," said McIlroy, w ho had not played since the US Open in June after rupturing an ankle ligament playing football with friends on July 4.

"Winning two majors, winning a couple of other times this year, had a chance at the Open, had a chance today. I'd be the first one to congratulate him because I know the golf you have to play to get to that spot, and it has been impressive this year."

Asked if regaining top spot would give him extra motivation, McIlroy added: " Not really. I've always said that winning golf tournaments takes care of all of that stuff. Right now I'm focused on just getting my game the way I think it has to be to win tournaments like this."

Spieth, 22, who becomes the second youngest world number one after Woods, said: "It feels really good. It's an unbelievable feeling.

"I knew walking up the 16th Jason was going to win so I was focusing on finishing second and accomplishing a career goal. So much work has gone into this and what a year it has been."

McIlroy, who said his ankle had responded well to the difficult terrain at Whistling Straits, will skip the first FedEx Cup play-off event and return to action in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston from September 4-7.

PA Media

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