Jimmy Walker went seven years and 187 tournaments before he finally won on the PGA Tour. Now he seems to have it figured out.
Walker pulled away from the pack with three consecutive birdies on the back nine of Waialae on Sunday and closed with a 7-under 63 to win the Sony Open for his second tour victory in his last six starts in Honolulu.
“It took me a long time to do it,” Walker said. “I felt very calm and controlled. That’s what you’ve got to feel and do when it’s time to win. It’s easy to say, hard to do. But today was awesome. Really cool golf.”
This wasn’t easy.
The final round was so tight there was a five-way tie for the lead with two hours remaining.
Walker’s big run began with a 12-foot par on the 14th hole. One shot behind Harris English, Walker rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, and took the outright lead when English — behind him in the final group — failed to save par from a bunker.
Walker made a 7-foot birdie putt on the 16th, and stuck his tee shot into 6 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th. A par on the last hole made him wait just a little bit longer.
Chris Kirk had a 30-foot eagle chip from just short of the green on the par-5 18th that would have forced a playoff. It stayed right of the hole, and Kirk made the birdie putt for a 66 to finish alone in second place.
Jerry Kelly (65) was alone in third. English never recovered from his bogey. He missed birdie putts on the last three holes for a 67.
Walker won the Frys.com Open in October, the first tournament of the new wraparound season. As the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this season, he went to No. 1 in the Ryder Cup standings and is closing in on cracking the top 30 in the world.
Walker finished at 17-under 263 and earned $1.08 million. He already qualified for his first Masters Tournament by winning in October. Now he’s piling up the wins.
With so many players in contention, the key was to keep bogeys off the card. Walker had made at least two bogeys in each of the three previous rounds, and it looked as if he was headed for one at the wrong time on the 14th hole when he chipped from an awkward stance near the bunker to about 12 feet. Kelly missed a 15-foot par putt from the same line, and Walker poured it in.
And then, he was off to the races.
South African Louis Oosthuizen birdied his closing two holes to retain the Volvo Champions title after an earlier eagle on the eighth.
The 2010 British Open winner shot a 4-under 68 for an overall 12-under 276 and claimed his seventh win on the European Tour in Durban, South Africa.
Oosthuizen finished a stroke ahead of fellow South African Branden Grace who also shot a 68 on the Durban Country Club course.
It was Oosthuizen’s first success since winning this elite 36-player event a year ago.