Jimmy Walker had one of those rare rounds. Everything went according to plan on the final day of the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol when, it seemed, the 37-years-old Texan could do little, no nothing, wrong.
Walker was put under immense pressure by defending champion Jason Day in the closing stages. But he kept his cool and kept hitting the right shots at the right time and, most significantly, got the breaks – luck, if you like – when he needed them.
He holed out from a greenside bunker at the start of the back nine and then only went and sunk a 35 footer on the following green by which time he must have been thinking this was going to be his day, his time, his championship. Belief is everything in golf.
In truth, the only one of Walker’s rivals who retained belief until the bitter end was Aussie Day whose last hole eagle briefly gave him hope of celebrating back-to-back US PGA titles. That left rock steady Walker needing a par on the 18th to secure his first major and after all that had happened before, he was never going to let it slip from his firm grasp.
Late bursts from Branden Grace and Daniel Summerhays were in vain while Open champion Henrik Stenson seemed to run out of steam coming down the stretch and while everything seemingly went swimmingly throughout for Walker, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama was left to reflect on what might have been.
Matsuyama had to settle for tied 4th but surely would have been a serious title contender had a string of putts dropped instead of brushing the side of the hole! Winning majors is all about small margins… as illustrated by Matsuyama’s frustration on the greens.
So it’s 2-2 between Europe and the USA in the 2016 majors stakes and now most eyes will focus on the Ryder Cup with Walker of course having cemented his team place.
The same could be said for Medinah matchwinner Martin Kaymer who made a welcome return to form by securing a top ten spot which would have put a smile on captain Darren Clarke’s face.
Clarke would have been impressed too with Tyrell Hatton (-7 and tied 10th) who is finishing the campaign strongly and is suddenly in line to join the number of rookies appearing at Hazeltine.