Jimmy Walker wins PGA marathon to cap year of firsts
A week that brought more than four inches of rain over the 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey went down a 36-hole marathon on Sunday in lift, clean and place conditions.
Jimmy Walker shot a 68 on the day’s first round that started at 7 a.m. Eastern time. He went his last 28 holes without a bogey to capture a one-shot victory with a closing 67 over the top ranked golfer in the world, Jason Day.
Walker’s final nine included three birdies starting with a bunker shot into the cup on No. 10, a 30-footer drained on No. 11 and a curling 8-foot putt on No. 17 that proved vital.
As Walker approached the tee of the par-5 18th with a three-shot lead, there was more drama to come. Day, in the group ahead of Walker’s, had hit his 2-iron to within 15 feet for eagle. Day holed the putt, and Walker heard the roar. The leader needed a par on 18 for his first major championship.
The 37-year-old kept it exciting when his second shot veered right of green into the three-inch rough, leaving a shot of 30 yards that had to carry a bunker to an elevated green over eight feet high. He did what he had to do, lifting the ball safely on the green some 35 feet from the hole.
At this time, Day left the area where he was watching on a television monitor with his son to watch at the edge of the green. Walker’s putt went three feet past the hole to set up the crucial par putt, a confidence stroke into the hole for the win.
Day was one of the first to greet Walker with a smile and class. “Great stuff, mate,” Day said to the new PGA champ.
Normally, two 67’s in the final rounds of a major are enough to walk away the winner, but Day came up just short of the worth champion Walker. “It was nice to get the eagle, just to try and make Jimmy think about it.” Day said. “But obviously, Jimmy just played too good all day.”
Jimmy Walker’s first major title caps off a year of first time major winners in each major:
The Masters–Danny Willett
U.S. Open–Dustin Johnson
The Open Championship–Henrik Stenson
Walker’s success did not come easy, earning his first of five PGA Tour victories before today in 2014 at age 35. A late bloomer has reached full flower.
‘Sometimes, things just don’t come easy,” Walker said, hoisting the PGA Wanamaker Trophy. “Jason really put it on me to make par. Sometimes pars are hard. But we got it.
“It was amazing.” he said. “It was a battle all day.”
Even the rain could not stop the drama at Baltusrol and a finish worthy of a major.
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