PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Even with his high-powered telescope, Jimmy Walker might have had a hard time finding himself among the stars.
Just four months ago, Walker began his eighth season on the PGA Tour with no wins in 187 attempts. With a little more drama than he wanted Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he held on for his third victory in his last eight tournaments.
In the last 20 years on the PGA Tour, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval have won so often so early in a season.
“I don’t know if it was just a matter of doing it once and then having it happen again and then happen again,” Walker said holing a 5-foot par putt on the 18th at Pebble Beach for a 2-over 74. “I’ve always felt like I could win out here, and I think that’s what you have to believe to be out here — that you belong and that you can win. And finally, it happened. And it’s cool that it’s happened a couple more times. Quickly.”
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He was feeling a little more heat than he needed on another cool, cloudy afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula.
Walker had a six-shot lead at the start of the final round. He was still five shots clear when he made the turn, and he was two shots ahead with two to play. With two putts for the win from 25 feet, he ran his birdie attempt about 5 feet by the hole and had to make that to avoid a playoff with Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner.
“It’s drama, man,” Walker said on the 18th green. “It was too much for me.”
The finish wasn’t what he wanted. The result was what Walker has come to expect.
He was never seriously challenged until Johnson, and then Renner, put together a strong finish. Johnson, a two-time winner at Pebble Beach, closed with a 66. Renner, who had yet to make a cut all year, made five birdies on the back nine for a 67.
Walker finished at 11-under 277 and earned $1.188 million, expanding his lead in the Ryder Cup standings to more than $1 million over Mickelson in second place.
For now, the stars are aligned for Walker better than anything he sees through his high-powered telescope, his hobby over the last five years.
“I just go out and play golf,” Walker said. “This is what I want to do and I’ve worked really hard to do it, to be here, and to be in this position and it’s really cool.”
Jordan Spieth had to return Sunday morning to complete his third round, which ended with his sixth three-putt of the round for a 78. He faced Pebble at its most vicious throughout the third round, though he bounced back with a bogey-free 67 to at least tie for fourth with Kevin Na (69).
And he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
“Yesterday was a day where you want to play Pebble Beach in that weather once in your life,” Spieth said. “You just don’t want it to be Saturday when you’re in the lead.”
Richard H. Lee, a former Washington Husky, finished tied for 10th at 5 under after a 73. Michael Putnam (72) from University Place tied for 35th and Kyle Stanley (76) of Gig Harbor was tied for 61st.
Cheyenne Woods victorious
GOLD COAST, Australia — Cheyenne Woods won the Australian Ladies Masters for her first major professional tour victory, holding off 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee by two strokes.
The 23-year-old Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, closed with a 4-under 69 at Royal Pines to finish at 16-under 276 in the event sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.
“I’ve been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting,” she said.
• Michael Allen won the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla., for his sixth Champions Tour title, beating Duffy Waldorf with a two-putt birdie on the second hole of a playoff.