Jimmy Walker Celebrates At Baltusrol
Springfield, N.J – In a masterful performance, Jimmy Walker went wire to wire to secure his 1st ever major championship, but not before needing to holding off World No.1 Jason Day. Walker’s 266 total included rounds of 65-66-68-67 for a one stroke victory over Day.
Baltusrol gave the best field in golf all it could handle – A tough A.W Tillinghast design, a brutal heat wave, and enough wet weather to complicate the schedule and field of play. The PGA of America made a bold move in an effort to get the championship finished on schedule and to preserve the quality of the competition – choosing not not re-pair the groups for the final round, and calling for 36 holes of preferred lies (lift clean and place) on the Lower Course. The decision proved to be just, as the Wannamaker was presented at just after 7 p.m eastern. A Sunday conclusion that seemed unlikely after a washout on Saturday.
Very little excitement took place on the Lower Course to start the final 18 holes, but after nine straight pars going out, Walker seemed steady but was holding a thin lead. Up until that point, many scribes called it “boring to watch”, and it would be tough to argue that point . . . but majors almost always have a way of getting interesting on the inward side, especially the PGA. One mistake could have swung all of the momentum. Facing a crucial sand shot from the greenside bunker on the tenth, Walker executed the explosion perfectly. As the ball rolled into the center of the cup like a 6 foot putt, Walker and caddie Andy Sanders high fived each other and never looked back. The momentum was his, and he knew it.
Jason Day did exactly what World Number 1’s do – needing eagle at the last to make it interesting, he did just that. A 268 yd 2 iron off the tee followed by a majestic 258 yd 2 iron approach to 10 feet, sent the crowd into a frenzy . . . and when his eagle putt caught the right edge of the cup and dropped – bedlam ensued among the N.J faithful. It was then up to Walker to make his par for the win. Walker found the shortgrass with a long iron off the tee, and then chose 3 wood for his approach – certainly a questionable decision, especially after seeing where his approach ended up. The 3 wood off the deck was missed badly, a high block into the right rough leaving a tough recovery. Jimmy pitched on to the green from 35 yards out and then calmly two putted for his first major title. Just enough drama to make the finish a must watch. For Jimmy Walker it was total relief: “Sometimes, things don’t come easy”, Walker said. “He really put it on me to make a par. Sometimes pars are hard . . . but we got it. It was amazing, it was a battle all day.”
For the 37 year old from Boerne, Texas it was a long time in the making. No longer is he on the list of best players to have never won a major, he’s the Champion of the 98th PGA Championship.