Golf: Cold putter over closing holes costs Walker title

KAPALUA, Hawaii (REUTERS) - Jimmy Walker was left to rue a few putts that got away over the closing stretch, as he narrowly failed in his bid to win a third PGA Tour title in 12 months at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Monday.

The world No. 17 golfer squandered a three-shot lead with eight holes to play on a gorgeous afternoon of dazzling sunshine at the Kapalua Resort before being edged out by fellow American Patrick Reed in a play-off.

"It was there for me to win," Walker, who had missed a birdie putt from 18 feet at the par-five last to triumph in regulation, told reporters. "It was a bummer I didn't close the door on it.

"I got to watch Patrick play the last couple of holes and had the chance on 18 to birdie and win it. Had a good look in the (18th) fairway and just didn't happen.

"I missed a couple of putts I should have made, on 14, 15; had a good look on 16. It had a lot of break on it, but it was a tough putt."

Walker missed a four-footer to bogey the 14th, then wasted birdie chances from eight feet at the 15th and 16th before being handed a one-shot cushion when Reed lipped out from four feet to bogey the 17th.

However, the world No. 14 birdied the last before Walker parred the hole to take the tournament into a play-off.

"I continued to drive it well, hit good shots where I needed to," said Walker, who last year became only the fourth player since 1995 to win three events in eight or fewer starts to begin a PGA Tour season.

"Just a couple of (missed) putts. You're trying to win a golf tournament, so you feel pressure.

"That's what you're out here to do and get in that spot. I've been there, done that and you handle it the best you can when you do it. I felt like I was hitting good shots ... just didn't make any putts."

Overall, though, Walker is happy with his game as he heads to the Hawaiian island of Oahu for this week's Sony Open at the tight, palm tree-lined Waialae Country Club.

"I felt like I could do whatever I wanted with the golf ball with an iron," said Walker. "I was hitting the ball good all week, so I look forward to taking that into Waialae."