Spieth doesn't win PGA Championship but is No. 1

Eddie Pells
Associated Press
Jordan Spieth hits out of a bunker on No. 16 Sunday.

No way Spieth was going to beat him. Might as well tip his cap.

Spieth closed out one of the best-ever performances at a major championship Sunday — 17-under 271 — to finish one of the best-ever seasons at the majors.

But he finished second, and in the final round, he never really put a scare into Day.

"Best I've ever seen him play," Spieth said.

Spieth started the day trailing Day by two and ended up losing by three. Day shot 20 under — the best in major history.

Only three players other than Day have ever shot lower than 17 under in a major: Tiger Woods, Bob May and Nick Faldo. That's Spieth's consolation. And really, he had plenty of that as he left Whistling Straits.

■ His cumulative score of 54 under par in the season's four majors breaks a record previously held by Woods during his three-win major season of 2000.

■ Spieth has two major championships, a second place here and a fourth-place at the British Open, where he was one shot out of a playoff.

■ He vaulted ahead of Rory McIlroy for the top spot in the ranking.

"Easy a loss as I've ever had," Spieth said. "Because I felt that I not only couldn't do much about it … but I also accomplished one of my life-long goals and in the sport of golf. I'll always be a No. 1 player in the world."

What Spieth doesn't have yet is the Wanamaker Trophy. He just missed in his quest to join Woods and Ben Hogan as only the third player to win three majors in a season.

Could he have made a few more putts? Probably. Early on the back nine, he had two birdie tries inside of 10 feet that just curled out.

Could he have driven the ball more accurately? Sure. He hit nine of 14 fairways and ranked a middling 31st for the week.

Could he have changed the result? Probably not, and he knew it.

"It would have been hard to shoot 8 under and go 15 under for the weekend," said Spieth, who worked his way into the mix by shooting 30 on the back nine Saturday. "That's very hard to do at a major championship."

Spieth's last, best chance to put a scare into Day came on No. 14, when he drove into the middle of the fairway and Day found a bunker. Five minutes later, Spieth had to make a magical up-and-down to save par and Day sank an 8-foot putt for birdie to go up four.

He kept holding onto hope when he saw Day pulling drivers on the tee box. He was hoping for a miss, a double bogey, anything to rattle him.

"But if you're left in the position of hoping that, you don't want to be in that position," Spieth said.

And so, sometimes, it's just easier to enjoy the show.

When Day rapped a 60-foot birdie putt on No. 17 and it nearly went in, Spieth was flashing the thumbs-up sign before the ball stopped.

"To hold him off knowing he's going to be the best player in the world now," Day said, "it felt great."