By Jay Betsill
Jimmy Walker closed with a 63 at the Sony Open in Hawaii to rise to the top of the tournament’s leaderboard finishing at 17-under 263 and earning $1.08 million. His scorching Sunday afternoon also catapulted him to the top of the PGA TOUR Money List ($2,417,833.25) and FedEx Cup standings (1,233).
“It took me a long time to do it,” Walker said. “I felt very calm and controlled. 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. Really cool golf.”
In addition to being his second win on the PGA TOUR, it was actually his second tour victory in his last six starts. Walker won the Frys.com Open in October, the first tournament of the PGA TOUR’s new “wraparound” season. As the first multiple winner for the 2013-14 season, he is also approaching the top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
But much like the rest of Walker’s career, this win did not come easy. Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott fired a 30 on his opening nine and was one shot off the pace when the final group began play. Coming down the stretch, there were four players within a shot of the lead as Walker had to fend off recent PGA TOUR winners Chris Kirk (McGladrey Classic) and Harris English (OHL Classic at Mayatoba) and veteran Jerry Kelly to grab the trophy. Other notables that Walker bested to win at Hawaii included last week’s winner at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar (-10), Colleyville resident Ryan Palmer (-10), two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (-10) PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (-8) and two-time major winner John Daly (-7).
Colonial champion Boo Weekely(-8) finished in a tie for 29th and Byron Nelson champion Sang-Moon Bae (-7) tied for 32nd.
The next stop on the PGA TOUR is the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation at PGA West (Palmer Private Course) in La Quinta, CA. Notables in the field include Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Davis Love III, John Daly, Webb Simpson and defending champion Brian Gay.
— Tiger Woods and Fred Couples are grouped together in the pre-tournament Champions Challenge later this month at the . Stephen Gallacher, the defending champion in Dubai, will round out the threesome with the two golf legends. The 18-hole exhibition is part of the event’s 25th anniversary celebration, with the winner to receive $300,000. Woods, who has won this event twice (2006, 2008), will tee it up after making his 2014 debut the previous week at the .
— Louis Oosthuizen repeated as the winner at the Volvo Champions in Durban, South Africa. The 2010 British Open winner shot a 4-under 68 to finish at -12 for his seventh win on the European Tour. Notables in the elite 36-player event included Branden Grace (-11), Padraig Harrington (-9), Thomas Bjorn (-5), Charl Schwartzel (-3), Miguel Ange Jimenez (-3) and Colin Montgomerie (+1).
— This week’s stop on the European Tour is the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with a star-studded field that includes four of the world’s top ten players. Reigning Open Champion Phil Mickelson, two-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, reigning FedEx Cup champion and No. 3 ranked Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia are among those teeing it up at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
— U.S. Open champion Justin Rose will miss a month with mild tendinitis in his right shoulder. This injury means his withdrawing from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship next week and the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines the following week according to his agent Mark Steinberg.