From his first victory in October 2013 to the way he held off Spieth in Texas, Walker won five times in 39 tournaments over a stretch of almost two years and rose as high as No. 10 in the world.
Walker is a late bloomer who has received as much attention in recent years for his astrophotography, with some of his work recognized by NASA.
Walker heard the wild cheering of Day hitting 2-iron onto the green at the par-5 18th, twice backed off his 8-foot birdie putt at the 17th and made it. He widened the lead to three with a birdie putt that curled around the lip and in at the 17th. “Playing 36 holes today, especially under the pump, not knowing what was going on, really, and finishing that way, was pretty special”. And two putts later – the second from a nervy three feet – Walker had his maiden Major title.
“It’s surreal. I mean, it really is”, he said.
“If he makes birdie, I’ve got a couple to play with and I can relax a little bit, but I didn’t get to relax. But we got it”.
Day was among the players to congratulate Walker on the 18th green and paid tribute to his “bus partner” after the 37-year-old Texan completed a clean sweep of 2016’s majors by first-time winners. Even with the silver trophy at his side, Walker still had a hard time letting that sink in.
Sky Sports commentator Rich Beem enjoyed celebrating with the fans after chipping in during the final round, while the likes of Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth all found the target with long-range putts.
Both men travel to PGA Tour events with their families in luxurious motorhomes and Day added: “He’s a tremendous bloke”. Walker did not make a single bogey over the last 28 holes to win by one shot over Jason Day. But he fell one short of Walker in the end as Walker made par at the 18th for the one-stroke win.
“Great stuff, mate”, he told Walker.
“It was nice to get the eagle, just to try and make Jimmy think about it”, Day said, “but obviously, Jimmy just played too good all day”. The No. 15 in the world played easily and composure, making par throughout the front nine before making birdie on the 10th, 11th and 17th greens. Due to the soggy course, the PGA instituted preferred lie, which allowed players free drops in the fairways. In an effort to beat the clock and avoid a second consecutive Monday finish at Baltusrol, the pairings stayed the same for the final round. Walker, meanwhile, is trying to become the fourth first-time major champion this year.
Walker climbs from No.29 to No.4 in the Ryder Cup standings, basically guaranteeing him a spot on the 12-man U.S. team for the showdown against Europe, which is two months away.
Throughout the first two days of competition at the PGA Championship, the best score shot by any of the 20 club professionals participating in the tournament was a 71.
He then pitched in from a bunker on the 10th for a birdie and followed that with a 30-foot putt on the next to get to 13 under.
The Australian flipped his club in despair as he neared the green, seeing the leaderboard and realizing that cheer behind him was Walker answering with a birdie on 17. And thanks to Day, he needed it. At the end of the day, I came in here with not the greatest preparation, ” Day said.
On a seemingly endless Sunday that started at 7 a.m. and ended more than 12 hours later, Walker had the defending champion and world’s No. 1 ranked player breathing over one shoulder the entire time. “The last thing I said to him as he left the range [on Sunday] was, “Just go out and show them who Jimmy Walker is”. “I think being able to kind of voice where I’m at mentally and physically with my health takes a lot of expectations off my shoulders and lets everyone know that I don’t have a lot of expectation coming to the week”.