By Mark Lamport-Stokes
ARDMORE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Jason Day suffered another near-miss in a major at the U.S. Open on Sunday but the Australian knows he has time on his side to win one of golf's blue riband events.
The 25-year-old Queenslander has made a habit of raising his game when the spotlight is at its most intense, already recording five top-10s in just 11 major starts in what promises to be a stellar career.
"I've just got to keep putting myself in position to win," Day told reporters after carding a one-over-par 71 in tough scoring conditions at Merion Golf Club to finish joint second with Phil Mickelson.
"And I feel that my game is in a really good spot right now. I'm doing the right things. I'm doing the little things that count. I've been close so many times now in majors, especially at a young age, which is nice."
Day pointed to the achievements of fellow Australian Adam Scott, who won his first major crown at the Masters in April, and England's Justin Rose, who triumphed by two shots at the U.S. Open on Sunday
"You've got to understand that Scotty is in his young 30s and same with Rosie," said Day, who clinched his first U.S. PGA Tour victory at the Byron Nelson Championship in 2010.
"I'm still 25. I turn 26 at the end of the year. I've got plenty of majors to play in and hopefully I can keep doing the same as I'm doing, and hopefully win one soon."
STAYED IN CONTENTION
Day, who also recorded runner-up spots at both the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011, began the final round at Merion three shots behind overnight leader Mickelson and stayed in contention for most of the day.
Though conditions were not easy with strengthening winds on a layout known for its narrow fairways, thick rough and sloping greens, he mixed two birdies with a bogey to reach the turn in one-under 35.
A 12-foot birdie putt at the drivable par-four 10th put him in a tie for the lead with Rose at even par and he did well to salvage a bogey at the 11th by chipping in to a tight pin position from just off the green.
"That kept the momentum rolling my way," said Day. "If I didn't get that up and down, I may have had a triple. That was a good momentum save. If there was ever a good bogey in a U.S. Open, that was one."
Merion is renowned for its notoriously difficult five-hole closing stretch, which Day covered in two over, bogeying the 14th and then keeping his title hopes alive by sinking a par putt from 12 feet at the 17th.
However, he faltered at the brutal par-four last where he found left rough off the tee and a greenside bunker with his approach before splashing out to five feet and lipping out with the putt.
"I hit a great bunker shot," Day said. "Tried to go for the hole-out and it just went a little bit past.
"I hit a nice putt coming home. I didn't expect it to hang out on the lip so much, and unfortunately it just lipped out. But I'm very happy with how I handled myself today. I moved in the right direction with experience."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)