Walker cards bogey-free 63 to steal Sony Open


Winless in his first 187 starts on the PGA Tour, Jimmy Walker now has two wins in his last six starts. On Sunday he moved atop a crowded leaderboard with a bogey-free, 7-under 63 to win the Sony Open by one shot. Here’s the skinny on the final round at Waialae Country Club:

The leaderboard: Jimmy Walker (-17), Chris Kirk (-16), Jerry Kelly (-15), Harris English (-14), Marc Leishman (-13)

What it means: A late bloomer, perhaps, but Walker, who turns 35 this week, is now among the world’s elite. With this victory, he is expected to move near the top 30 in the world ranking. At this time last year, he was ranked 117th. In the new wraparound season, Walker now has two wins and two other top-15 finishes.

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Round of the day: Two shots back to begin the day, Walker started slowly with just one birdie in his first eight holes, but he poured it on late to secure win No. 2. He birdied Nos. 9, 10 and 13, then ran off three in a row on Nos. 15-17 to hold off the pack. It was the lowest finish to win since Martin Laird’s 63 at the 2013 Valero Texas Open.

Best of the rest: It wasn’t like English blew his chance for his third career title with a sloppy Sunday. He made five birdies in the final round but was ultimately undone by a costly bogey on the 15th, when he failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker. His closing 67 gave him a third top-7 finish in this nascent season, and proved that his equipment change to Callaway won’t slow his rapid progression. Chris Kirk, the 54-hole leader, needed an eagle on the final hole to force a playoff, but his chip from the front fringe never had a chance. He shot 66 and lost by one.

Biggest disappointment: There wasn’t much star power on the final day. Adam Scott pulled within one shot of the lead at one point Sunday, but he was so far ahead of the leaders that he never had a realistic chance to win. He settled for a tie for eighth, along with Matt Kuchar (66) and Hyundai winner Zach Johnson (69). Marc Leishman made eight birdies in his last 12 holes for a closing 65 and a fifth-place finish.

Shot of the day: Walker put on a clinic late Sunday at Waialae: 12-foot par putt on 14, then rolled in birdies on 15 (13 feet), 16 (7 feet) and 17 (6 feet).

Quote of the day: “You learn so much out here; it took me a long time to do it. I felt very calm and under control. That’s what you’ve got to feel and do when it’s time to win. It’s easy to say, hard to do. But today was awesome. It was really cool golf today.” – Walker