Walker wins Sony Open with sizzling finish

Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:59pm EST
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(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker birdied four of the last six holes to storm clear of a crowded leaderboard and win his second PGA Tour title by one shot at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.

The 34-year-old, who had trailed by two strokes overnight, produced ice-cool composure and superb play over the closing stretch as he fired a flawless seven-under-par 63 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Six players held at least a share of the lead during a wildly fluctuating final round but the long-hitting Walker made his timely charge with birdies at the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th to post a 17-under total of 263.

Overnight leader Chris Kirk recovered from a slow start to close with a five-birdie 66 and secure outright second place, finishing a stroke in front of fellow American Jerry Kelly (65), the 2002 champion at Waialae.

Kirk, playing in the final group, had a chance to force a playoff with an eagle at the par-five last but his chip from in front of the green ran eight feet past the cup and Walker was able to celebrate his second victory on the U.S. circuit.

"Today was awesome," a beaming Walker told Golf Channel after earning the winner's check for just over $1 million. "I felt in control all day with my emotions.

"I made a key par putt (from 12 feet) on 14, which was really big, and then the string of birdies (to finish) there was pretty awesome."

Walker, who needed 188 career starts on the PGA Tour to clinch his first title at the Frys.com Open in October, felt that maiden victory had been instrumental in helping him add another just five starts later.

"You learn so much out here and it took me a long time to do it," he said of his long-awaited breakthrough win. "I feel like I did learn a lot that week.   Continued...

Jimmy Walker of the U.S. celebrates with Miss Hawaii USA Moani Hara (L) and Miss Teen Hawaii USA Mariah Gosling after winning the final round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry