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Jimmy's winning Majors! Walker holds off defending champ Day to claim maiden title

The American clinched the US PGA Championship by one shot.

Image: Seth Wenig

FOUR MAJORS, FOUR first-time winners in 2016.

Jimmy Walker joined Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson in claiming their maiden Major title this year as he completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the US PGA Championship.

The American was pushed all the way by defending champion Jason Day at Baltusrol but the 37-year-old held his nerve in the most testing of circumstances to par the 18th to earn a one-shot win.

Day, who started with bogeys on the first and third, set-up a grandstand finish as he conjured the most incredible eagle three on the last hole to put pressure on the champion elect.

But Walker, having extended his lead to three with a birdie on 17, showed nerves of steel to hole a three-foot putt to complete the biggest win of his career — and he was a worthy winner.

He signed for a bogey-free, three-under par final round of 67 to lift the Wanamaker Trophy and walk away with a cheque for €1.6 million.

Many had anticipated the final round at Baltusrol to boil down to a shootout between reigning champion Day and Henrik Stenson, who produced a sensational performance to win the Open a fortnight ago.

Yet on a day that saw the leaders play 36 holes after Saturday’s play was heavily truncated by thunderstorms, Walker proved the class of the field as he became the fifth first-time Major winner in succession – a run that started with Day’s triumph at Whistling Straits last August.

Walker recovered from a poor front nine in round three by coming back in 32 to reclaim top spot heading into the last 18, with Day and Stenson one and two back respectively.

A keen astrophotographer away from the course, Walker’s own star will now rise – with a previously below-par season on the PGA Tour suddenly one to remember for a player set to move up from 48 in the world rankings and likely feature in a second Ryder Cup.

Daniel Summerhays (66) finished strongly to take third at 10 under, while Hideki Matsuyama (68) was left to rue a host of missed opportunities on the greens as he joined Branden Grace (67) and Brooks Koepka (70) in a tie for fourth, one ahead of Stenson (71), Martin Kaymer (66) and Robert Streb (69).

PGA Championship Golf Source: Seth Wenig

 

By the time the leaders began their final rounds, Grace was firmly in contention at nine-under following some sparkling iron play.

Another birdie followed for the South African on the 13th, getting him within one of the summit, but a three-putt bogey at 16 halted Grace’s momentum and all eyes were soon on Walker.

The long-time leader hit the turn having made nine pars to hold a one-shot advantage over Stenson and Day, the latter responding to a ragged bogey-par-bogey start with birdies at the fifth and ninth.

Yet Walker made his first gain of the day in style at the 10th, holing out from a greenside bunker.

And although Day produced an instant response, rolling in a birdie putt from around 15 feet on 11, Walker was two clear again when he drained a lengthy left-to-right putt at the same hole.

Walker and Day were effectively in a two-horse race when Stenson over-shot the 15th green and double-bogeyed to drop five off the pace.

There was one last act of brilliant defiance from Day, in the form of his spectacular closing eagle, but the composed Walker only needed a par on 18 after birdieing the penultimate hole and got the job done by holing out from just inside three feet.

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Ryan Bailey

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