Walker wins marathon PGA Championship
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Jimmy Walker did everything required of a major champion on the longest final day in 64 years at a PGA Championship.
And then Jason Day made him do a little bit more.
Walker was standing over an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th hole Sunday when he heard a roar that caused him to twice back off the putt. It was Day, the defending champion and world’s No. 1 player, down to his last chance and delivering with a 2-iron that landed in front of the pin and stopped 15 feet away for eagle.
Walker answered, like he had done all day, with a birdie for a three-shot lead.
Moments later, another roar.
Day made the eagle putt, and the lead was down to one.
“There was nothing easy about the day — really about the week, for that matter,” Walker said. “Especially coming down the last hole.”
He went for the 18th green knowing it was his easiest chance for the par he needed to win. The outcome was still in doubt until Walker missed the green to the right, pitched out of deep rough to 35 feet and rolled his first putt about 3 feet past the cup.
Walker calmly made it to capture the PGA Championship, ending a long and wet week at Baltusrol, and still having just enough strength left to hoist the 37-pound Wanamaker Trophy.
“He really put it on me to make a par,” Walker said. “Sometimes pars are hard. But we got it.”
That par gave him a 3-under 67 and a one-shot victory and made the 37-year-old from Texas a major champion. Even with the silver trophy at his side, Walker still had a hard time letting that sink in.
Because of rain, the 36-hole final was the longest in PGA Championship history since Jim Turnesa won his 36-hole match in 1952. Walker at least had time to rest in his travel bus — he’s a frequent neighbor of Day on the PGA Tour — and get right back out into the final round. Walker, who shot a 68 in the morning for a one-shot lead over Day, didn’t make a bogey over the last 28 holes.
Day, trying to join Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship in stroke play, came out to the 18th green with his son to watch the finish and quickly found Walker. “Great stuff, mate,” he said.
“It was nice to get the eagle, just to try and make Jimmy think about it,” Day said after a 67. “But obviously, Jimmy just played too good all day.”
In a most peculiar final day at a major, the PGA Championship allowed for preferred lies — that never happens in a major — because of nearly 4 inches of rain during the week that drenched the Lower Course. Desperate to beat the clock and avoid a second straight Monday finish at Baltusrol, the pairings stayed the same for the final round.
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