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Walker wins on PGA Tour and gets trip to Masters PDF Print E-mail
Monday, October 14, 2013 1:40 AM

Associated Press

 

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

Tied for the lead with four holes to play Sunday, Walker rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to take the lead for good in the Frys.com Open. Three closing pars for a 5-under 66 turned out to be more than enough for the 34-year-old Texan to take home a trophy and plenty of perks.

Walker is going to the Masters for the first time, along with a trip to Maui for the Tournament of Championship. He also cracked the top 50 for the first time in his career.

“I think it will sink in after a while,” Walker said. “Relief right now. It feels really good. I’m pretty excited.”

It was a sinking feeling for Koepka, whose journey around the world in a remarkable year nearly ended with a PGA Tour card.

Koepka had a 4-shot lead with 11 holes to play and the 23-year-old Floridian 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 really 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 hole 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.

“Things weren’t going my way,” Koepka said. “I didn’t make the shots I needed to win. Congrats to Jimmy on that. I’ll try to learn from the whole experience.”

Vijay Singh closed with a 68 and wound up with the 27th runner-up finish of his Hall-of-Fame career, his best result since he sued the PGA Tour in May over its handling of the investigation into Singh admitting he used deer antler spray.

Koepka, who closed with a 72, wound up in a tie for third with Kevin Na, Puerto Rico winner Scott Brown and Hideki Matsuyama, the 21-year-old Japanese star who is playing the PGA Tour for the first time. He was in the Presidents Cup last week.

The Frys.com Open is the season opener in the new PGA Tour schedule, which starts in October instead of January for the first time in history. Instead of a Fall Series event where players mainly were trying to make money to keep their cards, the tournament offered all the perks of any other regular PGA Tour event.

That much was evident when a yellow Masters flag was stuffed into the silver trophy.

Walker played Augusta National for the first time about five years ago with his dad and a member. He can’t wait to go back for the Masters.

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 qualified for the British Open the day after his third Challenge Tour win.

He was between stops in Scotland and Shanghai and now his plans are slightly altered. Koepka’s finish gets him into Las Vegas next week before he goes back to the European Tour for the BMW Masters in China.

Billy Hurley III closed with a 68 and NCAA champion Max Homa from Cal birdied two of the last three holes to tie for ninth. That gets them in Las Vegas.

Koepka won all of his Challenge Tour events in Europe with the 54-hole lead, experience he figured could only help. For eight holes, he was on the verge of running away from the field. Koepka rammed in a 45-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole to reach 17 under, and when Singh in group ahead 3-putted the seventh for bogey from about the same range, the Floridian had a 4-shot lead.

It was gone in four holes.

Koepka had about a 15-foot birdie putt from the collar of the par-5 ninth green that went about 3 feet by the hole. But the stroke on his par putt looked a little quick, and it caught the left lip and spun out for a bogey. On the par-3 11th, he pulled a 6-foot par putt. That dropped him into a tie for the lead with Walker, who was in the group ahead and had made a 15-foot birdie on the eighth and a two-putt birdie from long range on the ninth.

They traded birdies — Koepka with a 3-footer on the par-5 12th, Walker with a 30-foot putt from the fringe on the 13th, setting the stage for the decisive stretch at CordeValle — a par 5 that could be reached in two, the par-4 17th that played 297 yards over the water, and a closing hole that required only a flip wedge with a big drive.

And that’s where it was decided.

LEGENDS TOUR

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jan Stephenson made a 30-foot birdie putt for the deciding points Sunday in the World team’s first victory in the Legends Tour’s ISPS Handa Cup.

Stephenson shot a 1-under 71 to edge Sherri Turner by a stroke and the World team went on to beat the United States 27-21 in the 45-and-older competition at Hermitage Golf Club. The Americans won the event the first six times and retained the cup last year with a tie in Orlando, Fla.

“It took a few years for the World team to practice and get better and better and better,” World captain Pia Nilsson said. “We were a team this week and the passion was so strong. This is just going to make this competition even better, to grow in the future.”

JoAnne Carner captained the U.S. team.

“You hate to lose but the way the World team played this week I have no repercussions, whatsoever,” Carner said. “They just outplayed us.”

The World team took a 14-10 lead into the 12 singles matches, with each match worth two points.

In the best match of the day, American Beth Daniel beat Laura Davis 66-67.

Trish Johnson, Helen Alfredsson, Alison Nicholas, Lorie Kane and Mieko Nomura won matches for the World team. Johnson beat Rosie Jones 66-69, Alfredsson topped Barb Mucha 66-69, Nicholas defeated Nancy Lopez 72-75, Kane edged Christa Johnson 69-73 and Nomura beat Pat Bradley 68-76.

For the United States, Cindy Rarick beat Jenny Lidback 74-78, Laurie Rinker topped Jane Crafter 67-72, Nancy Scranton edged Liselotte Neumann 72-73 and Cindy Figg-Currier beat Alicia Dibos 68-73.

American Betsy King tied at 71 with Gail Graham.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

CARY, N.C. — Russ Cochran holed an 8-foot putt on the final hole Sunday for his fourth straight birdie and a 1-stroke victory over David Frost in the SAS Championship.

“David played a great round and I knew someone was going to play well,” Cochran said. “I was hoping to hang around there and kind of catch fire. And it took every hole to do that.

“We knew we needed to make birdies, especially after the bogey on 13.”

The 54-year-old Cochran, also the 2010 winner at Prestonwood Country Club, closed with a 5-under 67 to finish at 17-under 199. The left-hander won the Principal Charity Classic in June in Iowa. He has five Champions Tour victories after winning once on the PGA Tour.

Frost finished with a 66. He missed a short birdie putt on No. 17 and also settled for par on 18.

“It’s such a hard tournament to win, especially from the lead because you know everyone is back there firing at the hole,” Cochran added. “The drive on the 18th hole was a big deal because you’ve made these birdies now and you don’t ever want to give a guy like David Frost another chance.

“He’s a tremendous player, one of the best putters and short game guys I’ve ever seen. He is unbelievable.”

Kirk Triplett was third at 14 under after a 68.

Gary Hallberg (66) was fourth at 13 under and Michael Allen (70) and Anders Forsbrand (69) followed at 11 under. With the top-10 finish, Forsbrand qualified for the Greater Hickory Classic next week at Rock Barn.

Bernhard Langer, the 2012 winner, tied for eighth at 9 under. Langer, two strokes behind Cochran entering the round, had a 73. Charles Schwab Cup points leader Kenny Perry shot a 72 to tie for 11th at 8 under.

With the victory, Cochran moved into sixth place in the Schwab Cup race.

ASIAN TOUR

NANSHAN, China — South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel won the China Masters on Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a 1-stroke victory over Darren Clarke and 2012 winner Liang Wenchong.

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, had a 9-under 279 total on Nanshan International’s Montgomerie Course. He earned $180,000 in the OneAsia Tour event.

“It’s always very satisfying to win,” Schwartzel said. “I’ve played a lot of golf tournaments and done a lot of traveling in the past few months and it felt like I’ve been playing really good golf with no results, so it’s nice to have something finally go your way.”

Clarke and Liang shot 72.

“I’m obviously disappointed with the day,” Clarke said. “It was another one of those days on the greens again where I couldn’t buy a putt from anywhere.”

 

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