Ice-cool Walker makes major breakthrough at PGA
Jimmy Walker produced a nerveless final-round performance to hold off world number one Jason Day and claim his maiden major title with a wire-to-wire victory in the US PGA Championship.
Many had anticipated the final round at Baltusrol to boil down to a shootout between reigning champion Day and Henrik Stenson, who produced a sensational performance to win The Open a fortnight ago.
Yet on a day that saw the leaders play 36 holes after Saturday's play was heavily truncated by thunderstorms, Walker proved the class of the field as he became the fifth first-time major winner in succession - a run that started with Day's triumph at Whistling Straits last August.
Walker recovered from a poor front nine in round three by coming back in 32 to reclaim top spot heading into the last 18, with Day and Stenson one and two back respectively.
The American then remained rock-solid under pressure to shoot a bogey-free 67 and end the week on 14 under, one clear of Day who applied late pressure with a stunning three at the par-five 18th.
Winning your first Major... https://t.co/yYbLriuwoO-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 31, 2016
A keen astrophotographer away from the course, Walker's own star will now rise - with a previously below-par season on the PGA Tour suddenly one to remember for a player set to move up from 48 in the world rankings and likely feature in a second Ryder Cup.
Daniel Summerhays (66) finished strongly to take third at 10 under, while Hideki Matsuyama (68) was left to rue a host of missed opportunities on the greens as he joined Branden Grace (67) and Brooks Koepka (70) in a tie for fourth, one ahead of Stenson (71), Martin Kaymer (66) and Robert Streb (69).
By the time the leaders began their final rounds, Grace was firmly in contention at nine under following some sparkling iron play.
Another birdie followed for the South African on the 13th, getting him within one of the summit, but a three-putt bogey at 16 halted Grace's momentum and all eyes were soon on Walker.
The long-time leader hit the turn having made nine pars to hold a one-shot advantage over Stenson and Day, the latter responding to a ragged bogey-par-bogey start with birdies at the fifth and ninth.
Yet Walker made his first gain of the day in style at the 10th, holing out from a greenside bunker.
And although Day produced an instant response, rolling in a birdie putt from around 15 feet on 11, Walker was two clear again when he drained a lengthy left-to-right putt at the same hole.
Walker and Day were effectively in a two-horse race when Stenson over-shot the 15th green and double-bogeyed to drop five off the pace.
There was one last act of brilliant defiance from Day, in the form of his spectacular closing eagle, but the composed Walker only needed a par on 18 after birdieing the penultimate hole and got the job done by holing out from just inside three feet.