The finish wasn’t what Jimmy Walker wanted. The result is what he’s come to expect.
Walker led by as many as six shots Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, only for it to be decided by his final putt. He ran his birdie attempt five feet by the hole and had to make that for par to close with a 2-over 74 and a one-shot win over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner.
“It’s drama, man,” Walker said on the 18th green. “It was too much for me.”
But it was a familiar outcome for Walker, a 35-year-old Texan who only four months ago was regarded as one of the best players to have never won on the PGA Tour. This was his third win of the PGA Tour season, a streak that began in October about an hour away at the Frys.com Open.
Walker joined some exclusive company. He is only the fourth player in the last 20 years to win three times in his first eight starts to a season. The others are Tiger Woods (who has done it eight times), Phil Mickelson and David Duval.
For a brief moment, it looked as though Walker might have a chance to join Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia as players to lose a six-shot lead in the final round.
He was never seriously challenged until Johnson, and then Renner, put together a strong finish. Johnson, a two-time winner at Pebble Beach, closed with a 66 on a card that included three bogeys. Renner, who had yet to make a cut all year, made five birdies on the back nine for a 67.
Walker finished on 11-under 277 and earned $1.188 million, expanding his lead in the Ryder Cup standings to more than $1 million over Mickelson in second place.
Walker moved up to No. 24 in the world and will play all four majors for the first time in his career. Until now, he had never played more than two in one year. And while it's only February, he is close to securing a spot on his first Ryder Cup team.
What really gets him excited might explain why he is playing so well. Walker is looking forward to the Northern Trust Open, which starts in four days at Riviera, his favorite tournament of the year.
“I love the golf course, and I've had good success there,” he said. “I'll enjoy tonight, and then it's time to refocus and reset everything, because we've got a whole new look next week. And it looks like the long-range forecast looks good for nice weather, and it's always nice to play Riviera when it's nice.”
AUSTRALIAN LADIES: Cheyenne Woods won the Australian Ladies Masters for her first major professional tour victory, holding off 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee by two strokes.
The 23-year-old Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, closed with a 4-under 69 at Royal Pines to finish at 16-under 276. Lee also shot 69 in the event sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.
Woods birdied the par-5 15th to open a two-stroke lead, hitting a wedge from about 120 yards to 4 feet. On the par-5 18th, she matched Lee with a birdie, holing out from 1ﾽ feet.
From Phoenix, Woods is the daughter of Earl Woods Jr., Tiger Woods’ half brother.
Woods turned professional in 2012 after an All-America career at Wake Forest, and her only previous pro victory came in 2012 in a SunCoast mini-tour event. In December, she missed the cut in the LPGA Tour’s qualifying tournament in a failed bid to earn a spot on the circuit.
CHAMPIONS: Michael Allen won the Allianz Championship for his sixth Champions Tour title, beating Duffy Waldorf with a two-putt birdie on the second hole of a playoff.
After Allen holed out on the par-5 18th, Waldorf had a chance to extend the playoff, but missed an 8-foot birdie putt after finding the front bunker in two.
Allen closed with a 3-under 69 to match Waldorf at 18-under 198. Waldorf, winless on the tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour, shot 67.
They each birdied the 18th in regulation and on the first extra hole.
In the first round, Allen matched the Champions Tour record with a 60.
PGA EUROPEAN: South Africa’s George Coetzee rallied to win the Joburg Open for his first European Tour title and a spot in the British Open.
Coetzee closed with a 6-under 66 at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington to finish at 19-under 268, three strokes ahead of countryman Justin Walters (73), England’s Tyrrell Hatton (66) and South Korea’s Jin Jeong (71). Jeong and Walters took the other two British Open places available in the event.