From zero to hero in just 2 weeks
SPRINGFIELD, UNITED STATES
JIMMY Walker said he never would have dreamed after missing the British Open cut two weeks ago that he would be the next man to hoist a major golf trophy.
But the 37-year-old American pulled off the astonishing feat on Sunday at the PGA Championship, sloshing 36 holes across soggy Baltusrol and out-duelling top-ranked defending champion Jason Day down the stretch to win.
Walker had not won since the US PGA Texas Open 16 months ago, falling from the top 10 to 48th in the world rankings.
But when he shared 21st at the Canadian Open between the British Open and the PGA, he had an epiphany.
"Some stuff kind of clicked last week, literally in the last nine holes," Walker said.
In the final round, he chipped in from 45 yards to birdie the 10th hole.
When Day answered with a 22-foot birdie at the 11th, he rolled in a 30-footer on the same hole minutes later to reclaim a two-shot lead.
Walker sank an eight-foot birdie putt at 17 only to have Day eagle the 18th, forcing Walker to save par from the greenside rough. He sank a tense three-foot par putt and the Wanamaker Trophy was his, along with US$1.8 million (S$2.4 million).
He joins Masters winner Danny Willett of England, British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden and fellow American Dustin Johnson, the US Open winner, as the first foursome of first-time major winners in the same year since 2011.
"It shows that everybody is really good and everybody's got a chance to win," Walker said.