American Walker wins PGA Tour's season opener

Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:26pm EDT
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(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker took advantage of a late collapse by overnight leader Brooks Koepka to win his first PGA Tour title by two shots at the Open in San Martin, California on Sunday.

Three strokes off the pace heading into the final round, Walker coolly birdied two of the last six holes to close with a five-under-par 66 on a sun-splashed afternoon at CordeValle Golf Club.

The 34-year-old seized the outright lead for the first time when he two-putted for birdie at the par-five 15th, then made three consecutive pars to post a 17-under total of 267 in the opening event of the PGA Tour's 2013-14 season.

"I think it will sink in after a while," an emotional Walker told Golf Channel after earning a Masters invitation and a two-year exemption with his maiden win on the U.S. circuit following his 188th career start.

"I am still feeling the adrenalin and everything. I feel like a relief, a release kind of, right now but it feels really good. I am pretty excited.

"I was swinging good so I just kept saying, 'Let's just keep hitting good shots, putting good.' Everything felt like it was in control, so I just kept doing that and it worked out."

American Koepka, also seeking a maiden victory on the PGA Tour, briefly led by four shots on the front nine but tumbled backwards with bogeys on four of the last 10 holes on his way to a 72 and a four-way tie for third place.

Former world number one Vijay Singh, bidding for his first win in five years on the PGA Tour where he has triumphed 34 times during a Hall of Fame career, finished alone in second at 15 under after closing with a 68.

For the early part of the afternoon, Koepka appeared to be heading toward a remarkable victory in only his fourth career start on the PGA Tour, stretching his overnight lead to three shots when he sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-four second.   Continued...

Jimmy Walker of the U.S. watches his shot on the first hole during final round play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA golf tournament in Orlando, Florida March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Scott Miller