Saturday, May 26, 2018

Walker wins Open for first PGA Tour victory

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Jimmy Walker finally won on the PGA Tour, in his eighth year and 188th tournament, and with a little help from former Florida State golfer Brooks Koepka.

Tied for the lead with four holes left Sunday, Walker rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the 15th to take the lead for good in the Open. Three closing pars for 5-under 66 turned out to be more than enough for a two-shot win over Vijay Singh (68).

Walker, 34, is going to the Masters for the first time, as well as to Maui for the Tournament of Champions. He also cracked the top 50 for the first time in his career.

"I think it will sink in after a while," said Walker, who finished at 17-under 267. "Relief right now. It feels really good. I'm pretty excited."

Koepka, who started the day with a two-shot lead in his first regular tour event, led by four with 11 holes to play, and the native of Wellington, in Palm Beach County, looked as poised and confident as he had all week at CordeValle. There was a tiny crack when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the ninth hole, and it caught up with him at the end.

Koepka missed a 6-foot putt on the 15th that would have matched birdies with Walker, who was playing in the group ahead of him. Koepka then missed his tee shot wildly to the left on the 16th and had to scramble for bogey. Down to his last shot, he hit into the water on the 297-yard par-4 17th for another bogey.

Koepka finished at 1-over 72 for the day and 14 under for the tournament with Kevin Na (64), Scott Brown (64) and Hideki Matsuyama (66).

"Things weren't going my way," he said. "I didn't make the shots I needed to win. … I'll try to learn from the whole experience."

Koepka was playing on a sponsor's exemption that he received without asking. Tournament officials identified him as a potential star when he started the year with no status on any tour and won three times on the Challenge Tour to earn his European Tour card.

He was playing between stops in Scotland and Shanghai, and now his plans are slightly altered. Koepka's finish gets him into this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas before he goes back to the European Tour.

George McNeill, another former FSU player and who was Koepka's final-round partner, shot par and finished 13 under.

LPGA: Lexi Thompson shot 2-under 69 to win the LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur by four strokes at 19-under 265, giving the 18-year-old American her first victory of the season. This was her second career title, following the Navistar LPGA Classic in 2011. Chinese star Feng Shanshan (67) was second. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (71) finished at par 284.

CHAMPIONS: Russ Cochran holed a 5-foot putt on the final hole for his fourth straight birdie and a one-stroke victory over David Frost in the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C. Cochran closed with 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under 199. Frost shot 66.