The 2016 major championships will be remembered for a long time.
There was April, when we witnessed Jordan’s collapse at Augusta, and Danny Willett’s nervy finish to earn the green jacket.
Then, there was DJ’s driving clinic at Oakmont, and his headstrong finish through the USGA’s ruling snafu.
Royal Troon gave us a Stenson-Mickelson 63-65 Sunday that drew immediate “Duel in the Sun” comparisons.
The first three-fourths of 2016 were handled wholly by first-time major champions.
At Baltusrol, Jimmy Walker made sure it stayed that way.
2016 was the year of first time Major Champions. 🏆👊 pic.twitter.com/tI1JfmjQgF
— Golfsmith (@Golfsmith) July 31, 2016
With Saturday being pretty much a wash out due to rain and lightning, the majority of the field was scheduled for a 7 a.m. re-start Sunday. For the leaders, most of whom never even took a swing Saturday, it would mean a marathon finish.
Walker made three bogeys on his first eight holes in round three, before righting the ship. His bogey at the 8th would be his last of the Championship. Four birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 15 and 18 in his third round resulted in a one-stroke lead over defending champion Jason Day going into the final round, which started just a few hours after the completion of round three.
During the final round, things started to heat up after the turn. Walker opened with nine pars before holing out from the bunker at 10 and draining a 30-foot snake at 11 for back-to-back birdies. The back-to-back major bid ended for Henrik Stenson with a costly double-bogey at 15, leaving just Walker and Day (playing one group ahead) to fight it out down the stretch.
Still trailing by one, Day’s 12-foot, uphill birdie effort at the 17th (to tie) just missed, while Walker was able to convert a slippery, downhill roller for birdie, extending his lead to three.
The real story in this sequence is timing. Requiring three shots to reach the green at the lengthy 17th, Walker was over his birdie try at the exact moment Jason Day, then on the Par 5 18th hole, was hitting arguably the shot of the tournament. Having found the fairway and trailing by two, Day hit a monstrous iron from 254 yards, sticking the green and setting up eagle.
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) July 31, 2016
The crowd roared to life just as Walker, back on the 17th green, was set to attempt his birdie. He twice stepped away to regain his focus, and then the 5-time Tour-winner did this:
Jimmy Walker birdies 17 to get to -14! https://t.co/Rq71OrxIjI
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) July 31, 2016
Walker played it safe off the 18th tee, finding the fairway with a long iron, and watched as Day converted his eagle putt, reducing the Texan’s lead to just one.
The stage was set. Jimmy Walker needed just a par 5 at the last, and easiest, hole to become the 2016 PGA Champion.
So he hits a 7-iron, then a wedge to the center of the green, and makes an easy 2-putt for his first major, right?
Not so fast.
Feeling confident he could reach the green, or leave himself an easy up and down, Walker pulled his 3-wood from his bag. Flashbacks of Jean van de Velde set in when Jimmy found the thick rough, just right of the hole. Was he trying to give it away? Were we really seeing this unravel after 71 holes of brilliance?
No, no we weren’t. Walker, ever-unflappable, hit a high lob into the heart of the green, put his 30-footer to around 3-feet, and easily rolled in his par putt like he was playing a Sunday scramble with pals.
This is your Sunday recap.
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) August 1, 2016
Walker’s first major championship title comes in his 258th career start on the PGA TOUR at the age of 37 years, 6 months, 15 days. He received a five-year exemption to the PGA TOUR, carrying him through the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season. He picked up $1.8 million as his first-place prize and a lifetime exemption into the PGA Championship. Here is what Jimmy Walker had in his bag to win the 2016 PGA Championship:
Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5˚) prototype with a UST Mamiya Elements Platinum 7 shaft
Fairway Metal: TaylorMade M1 (15˚) with an Aldila Rogue Limited Edition Silver 80TX shaft, Titleist 915Fd (18˚) with a Fujikura Motore Speeder 8.2
Irons: Titleist 716 MB (3–9) with True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM6 pitching (48˚), sand (54˚) and lob (60˚) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Shoe: FJ ICON
Glove: FJ StaSof
*Jimmy Walker put the new 917D2 (8.5˚) prototype driver in the bag the first week he tested it at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Walker optimizes his driver by setting his SureFit hosel in the B2 position and the SureFit CG in the Neutral position. Of the 34 Titleist drivers in play this week, 19 players relied upon a 917D2 or 917D3 driver, just one month after their PGA TOUR introduction at the Quicken Loans Invitational.
— Titleist (@Titleist) August 1, 2016
The secret formula to becoming a major champion:
Jimmy Walker's winning formula 📊 pic.twitter.com/ImdD92fpVt
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) August 1, 2016
And because the 27-pound Wanamaker Trophy doesn’t exactly fit in one’s pocket, the PGA made sure Walker has the only ID he’ll probably ever want to present again.