PGA Championship 2016

Starry-eyed Walker taking it one Day at a time

US golfer Jimmy Walker savouring the greatest moment of his career as he lifts the Wanamaker Trophy in front of the leader board, after winning the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club.
US golfer Jimmy Walker savouring the greatest moment of his career as he lifts the Wanamaker Trophy in front of the leader board, after winning the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SPRINGFIELD (New Jersey) • Jimmy Walker's passion is astrophotography. It is unclear at which point he reckoned that, if taking pictures of the stars, he might as well shoot for them.

The sequence of first-time Major winners continues. On a balmy Baltusrol on Sunday evening, in concluding a tournament that had threatened to rumble into another week, the 37-year-old lifted the Wanamaker Trophy.

This year's four prime golf events have each had a player break his Major duck.

Walker is the winner of the 98th US PGA Championship, with consistently low scores of 65, 66, 68 and 67 for a 14-under 266 total.

The American's margin of victory from world No. 1 Jason Day (67) was one stroke but, in truth, the outcome never looked in much doubt.

  • ABOUT JIMMY WALKER

    Born: Jan 16, 1979

    Birthplace: Oklahoma City

    Lives in: Boerne, Texas

    Height: 1.89m

    Turned pro: 2001

    Joined PGA Tour : 2006

    PGA Tour victories: 6

    Major championship wins: 1

    Ryder Cup appearance: 2014

    Net worth estimated by Sport Rich List: US$15.5 million

    Tournament record: After 187 PGA events without a win, he won three times in the first eight events of the 2013-2014 season.

    Family: Wife Erin, a nationally ranked show jumper, runs a successful blog, Tour Wife Travels. They have two sons, Mclain and Beckett.

    Hobby: Amateur astrophotographer. Several of his pictures have been selected as Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

That is until the very last hole of the tournament, when Walker carved a fairway wood into thick rough and had to scramble for par.

Perhaps his story is the most poetic of this year.

Three years ago, he claimed his first PGA Tour title.

He won twice in 2014 and the same number of times last year. From journeyman professional, he went to top 50 in the world and, now, Major winner and richer by US$1.8 million (S$2.4 million) as well as a new No. 15 ranking.

Three moments were to define Walker's victory. Ultimately and thankfully, with luck playing a part, the forecast brutal weather did not.

When holding a one-stroke lead on the 10th hole, courtesy of nine straight pars, he made his first error by finding a greenside bunker. But he was to hole out from there.

And he did likewise from 30 feet at the 11th hole.

On the 17th hole, he nervelessly converted an eight-foot putt seconds after Day had played a 254-yard approach to the hole in front to eagle range.

Only a Walker stumble would hand the trophy away from there.

The American's A-game might not be up there with the best but it is clearly sufficient when others fall short. "It's surreal," he said. "I just had not quite played as well as I would have liked to this year. Just to be in it and be there and have a chance and then to finish it off is just so gratifying. It's amazing."

It is testimony to Day that he pushed Walker as far as was the case, with the Australian obviously performing at around 70 per cent.

Day made that eagle on the 18th to leave Walker needing his par to win. Daniel Summerhays (66) claimed third place and a Masters berth at 270, one ahead of Branden Grace (67), Hideki Matsuyama (68) and Brooks Koepka (70).

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline 'Starry-eyed Walker taking it one Day at a time'. Print Edition | Subscribe