PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The finish wasn’t what Jimmy Walker wanted. The result is what he’s come to expect.
Walker led by as many as six shots Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, only for it to be decided by his final putt. He ran his birdie attempt 5 feet by the hole, and had to make that for par to close with a 2-over 74 and a one-shot win over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner.
“It’s drama, man,” Walker said on the 18th green. “It was too much for me.”
But it was a familiar outcome for the former Baylor Bear, a 35-year-old Texan who only four months ago was regarded as one of the best players to have never won on the PGA Tour. This was his third win of the PGA Tour season, a streak that began in October about an hour away at the Frys.com Open.
Walker joined some exclusive company. He is only the fourth player in the last 20 years to win three times in his first eight starts to a season. The others are Tiger Woods (who has done it eight times), Phil Mickelson and David Duval.
For a brief moment, it looked as though Walker might have a chance to join Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia as players to lose a six-shot lead in the final round.
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 on a card that included three bogeys. Renner, who had yet to make a cut all year, made five birdies on the back nine for a 67.
Walker made a 10-foot birdie on the 11th hole and was seemingly on his way.
But he hit a poor chip on the par-3 12th for a bogey. He three-putted the 13th for a bogey. He settled down for three simple pars and was two shots clear with two to play. Walker three-putted the 17th, missing a 3½-foot par putt. He tried to play it safe on the 18th with an iron off the tee that found the right rough.
From 25 feet above the hole, he hit the birdie putt too hard and had one anxious moment.
“I hate three-putting,” Walker said. “I had two of them back there, and definitely didn’t want another one on the last.”
Walker finished on 11-under 277 and earned $1.188 million, expanding his lead in the Ryder Cup standings.