PGA Championship 2016 leaderboard, highlights: Breaking down a wild ending
Jimmy Walker needed a par he almost didn't get on 18 to edge world No. 1 Jason Day for the 98th PGA Championship against a loaded field
It took 70 holes, but we finally got ourselves a golf tournament. Jason Day went to the final two holes of the 2016 PGA Championship on Sunday trailing leader Jimmy Walker by two strokes. Day was playing right in front of Walker on the course as pairings were repeated from Round 3, so Walker had the advantage in that he could tailor his play to what Day did or did not do.
When Day made par at the par-5 17th with Walker in the middle of the fairway, the tournament seemed pretty much over. But then Day made a preposterous eagle on the 72nd hole (also a par 5). The problem for him? Walker had just made birdie at No. 17 to extend his lead briefly to three. Day's eagle brought it back to within one, which is when the drama really started.
Walker was in the fairway on No. 18 and could tell Day made his eagle up ahead. He pulled a 3-wood and went for the green in two instead of casually laying up, getting on the green and two-putting for his first major. The 3-wood went awry and Walker had to pitch out of the thick rough to the right of the green right near the spot where Phil Mickelson needed to get up and down for the win at Baltusrol in 2005.
A putt from 30 feet rolled to three feet, and he had that for the win. Walker buried it to make par and beat Day by one. A tournament was saved with the theatrics, and Walker notched his first-ever major win.
"We made the birdie [on 17]," Walker told CBS noting that he thought that would be enough. "Things don't come easy. Golf is not an easy game. Jason is a true champion. Eagle at the last. That's unreal. It was on me to make a par. Sometimes, pars are hard."
You could add that winning majors is always hard, especially with somebody like Day breathing down your neck.
Walker proved his mettle though and became the first golfer since Mickelson in 2005 at this course to lead this golf tournament wire to wire.
1. Jimmy Walker (-14): Walker touched off just the third year since 1969 in which all four major champions have been first-time major winners. His bogey-free 67 to seal the deal is his first round without a bogey in the 18 majors he's played. It wasn't pretty at the end, but what a way to take your first big boy trophy.
2. Jason Day (-13): Day finished off a pretty amazing major season in which he placed in the top 10 three times. His 67-67 finish (Round 3 and Round 4 were both played on Sunday) normally would have been enough to get the job done (or at least go to a playoff) against somebody with Walker's experience. There was no crack in the Texan though, and Day settles for his fourth runner up at a major in his career.
3. Daniel Summerhays (-10): Heady performance from Summerhays, who also finished T8 at the U.S. Open earlier this year. He missed two putts short at the very end that would have taken him even lower. As it is, he gets in the 2017 Masters (his first) with this top-four finish. Good on him.
T4. Branden Grace (-9): Grace is a big game hunter of the stoutest variety. His has top five finishes in four of the last six major championship. Top five! He got out hot early on Sunday but faded by hitting one in the drink on No. 18. Thankfully, a train wasn't involved this time.
T4. Brooks Koepka (-9): Koepka fell out of contention when he pulled his tee shot on No. 11 and hit a tree trying to punch out. He finished in the top five in putting for the week, which with the way he hits it, is usually enough to get it done. Another great major championship outing though. His second straight top 10 at the PGA Championship.
T4. Hideki Matsuyama (-9): Matsuyama finished 73rd in putting on the week and still finished in the top five. That's tough to do. He put on a ball-striking fiesta for the ages on Sunday but could not get a putt to fall until the final hole, which he birdied. Another in what will be a long string of top 10s at majors over the course of his career.
- T8. Henrik Stenson (-8)
- T13. Jordan Spieth (-6)
- T17. Adam Scott (-5)
- T22. Justin Rose (-4)
- T33. Phil Mickelson (-3)
- T33. Zach Johnson (-3)
- T33. Rickie Fowler (-3)
- T60. Bubba Watson (+1)
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