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Steve Elkington narrowly misses an eagle putt on the 16th
REUTERS / ALLEN FREDRICKSON Steve Elkington narrowly misses an eagle putt on the 16th

Steve Elkington came up narrowly short in his bid to become golf's second oldest major champion.

The 47-year-old Australian hardly made a mistake in a dramatic and compelling final round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but bogeys at the final two holes forced him to settle for equal fifth, two strokes behind German play-off winner Martin Kaymer.

Kaymer beat American Bubba Watson in a three-hole play-off after American Dustin Johnson was disqualified in sensational circumstances when officials deemed he had grounded his club in a bunker on the final hole.

Without that two-stroke penalty, Johnson would have been part of a three-way play-off at 11-under-par 277.

His penalty brought to mind the penalty invoked on Australian Stuart Appleby on the same course and in the same tournament six years ago.

Appleby was docked four strokes - two for grounding a club and two for removing some debris from a bunker - at the 16th hole during the third round.

But all of that was of no concern to Elkington, who made a bold run at winning the PGA for the second time, following his 1995 success.

Elkington was at home in the strong winds that whipped across the course next to Lake Michigan as his textbook swing held up well in the tough conditions.

He had a four-metre eagle putt to take the outright lead at the par-five 16th, but his ball dived left at the death and grazed the hole without dropping.

"I hit a real good putt that looked like it went through the hole," said Elkington, who had lipped out a birdie putt at the previous hole.

"That was agony, to be honest with you painful."

Tied for the lead, Elkington effectively lost the championship with a bogey at the par-three 17th, where his three-iron scuttled through the green and down a steep embankment, from where he had little chance of getting up-and-down.

That left him needing a birdie at the par-four 18th, the toughest hole on the course, but his four-iron settled 20 metres from the hole, from where he three-putted for a one-under 71.

"So much about golf is having a go and trying to have a bit of fun with it. I'm not saying I had a ball but I had a good time hitting it at the flag," Elkington said.

He brought some decent form into the event, after finishing 10th at last week's tour event, but it would be fair to say his run at the title was a mild surprise.

He is ranked 300th in the world but looked much better than that, proving that quality never goes out of style.

Another Australian, Jason Day, made a hot start to get to within one stroke of the lead after birdies at the first two holes and he remained close until a double bogey at the par-four ninth.

Day was never a factor on the back nine, finishing equal 10th on seven-under after a 74.

Kaymer, meanwhile, won the play-off by playing the three extra holes in a cumulative even par.

Watson birdied the first extra hole, but Kaymer birdied the next to tie it up going to the par-four 18th.

But after Watson found a water hazard with his second shot, Kaymer had the luxury of laying up from the rough.

A tap-in bogey was all he needed to become, at 25, the second German major champion, joining 1985 and 1993 Masters champion Bernhard Langer.

Earlier, Kaymer made a clutch par putt at the 72nd hole to tie Watson. Kaymer shot a closing 70, while Watson had a 68.