Jordan Spieth couldn't pull off a miracle comeback Sunday, as he fired a one-over 71 in the final round of the 2019 PGA Championship at the famed Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, New York.
Spieth started the tournament strong with rounds of 69 and 66 to earn a place alongside Brooks Koepka in Saturday's final group. He faded with a 72 while playing with the event's runaway leader, however, and his performance Sunday led him to finish the season's second major at two under.
The 25-year-old Dallas native recorded one birdie and two bogeys in Round 4.
Spieth appeared to emerge as golf's new dominant force after winning back-to-back major titles in the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2015.
He's captured a single major championship since that point (2017 Open Championship), however, and watched as the sport's landscape has changed significantly.
Koepka, who will win his fourth major since 2017 barring a collapse late Sunday, has established himself as the player to beat in the biggest events, and Tiger Woods showed in the Masters his form is now back to a point where he's a legitimate threat again despite his missed cut this week.
Then there's a terrific group of second-tier contenders, led by Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Francesco Molinari, who stand between Spieth and more major triumphs.
"If not for my past success, I don't think I'd get as many questions about being in a little bit of a slump," Spieth told reporters Wednesday. "I think people would look at me and say, 'He's coming along nicely.' But because of the success I've had, people don't look at it that way."
It's a fair assessment. Spending the majority of a major championship inside the top five, which was the case for the 2015 FedEx Cup champion this week, is viewed as a success for most of the players on the PGA Tour. But for him, it's seen as a disappointment because his modest major drought continued.
That said, his game showed plenty of progress at Bethpage Black. He looked far more like the former top-ranked player in the world than a golfer who failed to crack the top 20 in his first 11 starts of 2019 coming into the PGA Championship.
If Spieth can continue to trend in that positive direction in the coming weeks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in contention at Pebble Beach in the 2019 U.S. Open next month.