ARDMORE, PA. – As long as he keeps knocking on the door, Jason Day says, he will soon win a major.
For a moment Sunday on Merion’s back nine, it seemed soon would be now.
Day took his turn as the hottest player of the round with spectacular shots on the 10th and 11th holes. But the demanding final stretch of holes took its toll, and he had to settle for a place he knows well in a major — second.
Day finished the tournament in a tie with Phil Mickelson at 3 over par, two strokes back of winner Justin Rose.
“You’ve got to understand that late Sunday of a U.S. Open and U.S. Open courses are very hard,” Day said. “You can’t do anything but kind of grind it out.”
It was his fourth top-three finish in a major since 2011. Day finished second in the U.S. Open and Masters in 2011 and he was third in the Masters this year, a tournament that he also led in the final round.
Day moved into a share for the lead Sunday with Rose by deftly navigating his way from the rough to card an unlikely birdie on the par-4 10th.
All seemed set to crumble when he flew his second shot on the par-4 11th into Cobbs Creek. He took a penalty stroke, and then chunked his shot from the drop zone, leaving the ball in thick rough in front of the green.
Day chipped in from the perilous spot to record a bogey that could have been much worse.
“If I would have missed it ... I probably would have had a triple or a double at best,” Day said. “That was a good momentum save.”
The momentum was short-lived. Day played the final seven holes at 2 over. He shot 1-over-par 71 for the day, a score he thought was good enough to win.
“Everyone thought we were going to rip it up, but I just knew that somewhere around even par was going to win it,” Day said. “I was very patient with myself and happy with how I handled myself. I just got to keep giving myself shots at majors.”