Feb. 6-9, 2014
Pebble Beach–In what became the year of the drought buster, rain and high winds visited the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
None of it fazed red-hot Jimmy Walker.
Walker, who entered the tournament with two wins on the season already under his belt, shot a final round 2-over 74 and sank a critical par putt on the 18th to win the AT&T Pro-Am by a shot over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner. The Oklahoma native, who joined David Duval, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as players who’ve won three events in eight or fewer starts, finished the event with a four-day total of 11-under 276.
“I just go out and play golf,” said Walker, whose three PGA Tour wins have all come during the 2013-2014 season. “This is what I want to do and I’ve worked really hard to do it, to be here and to be in this position and it’s really cool.”
Despite entering the final round with a six-shot lead, Walker had to sweat out the victory. With Renner and Johnson, a two-time AT&T winner, in the clubhouse at 10-under, Walker came to the par-3 17th holding just a two-stroke lead. His lead quickly dropped to one when he missed his 5-foot putt for par.
After teeing off with an iron to play it safe, Walker faced another 5-footer on the 18th for the win. This time, the putt fell in, giving the 35-year-old the win and ending any chances of a Walker-Renner-Johnson sudden death playoff.
“On the putt on 18 I tried to just blank everything out that was going on,” said Walker, whose 74 matched the highest final round for a winner since Dustin Johnson shot a Sunday 74 en route to winning in 2010. “I just went about it and tried to go about it as businesslike as possible. Don’t watch the putt. Keep your head down. Stuff I probably should have thought about the last couple holes.”
When Walker made the turn after the 9th, he was at 14-under and held what appeared to be a commanding six-shot lead. His cushion started to evaporate following back-to-back bogeys on No.12 and No.13. Around the same time, Johnson and Renner birdied the 18th to finish at 10-under.
“It’s a different feeling when you have a lead like that,” said Walker, whose previous best AT&T finish was a tie for third in 2013. “It’s like no pars are going to be good enough and guys really started playing good. You got to hand it to the guys who shot good rounds today. I just struggled a bit with the speed of some of these greens and the chipping and I hate three-putting, but I had a couple.”
Playing with his future father-in-law, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Johnson shot a day-low 66 that included an eagle on the par-5 2nd.
“A playoff would’ve been nice but Jimmy is playing very well right now,” said Johnson, who won in 2009 and 2010. “It was tough out there. I made a few bogeys and missed a short one on 14 for birdie but other than that I played great.”
Renner made his charge with a back-nine 31. “I was just trying to play well,” Renner said. “Jimmy has been playing so well. I was just worried with my own game. So I was just kind of doing my own thing.”
In the first round, rookie Andrew Loupe stole the show and took the lead with a sizzling 8-under 63 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. A day later, Walker and Jordan Spieth shared the lead at 9-under after rounds of 69 and 67 at Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course, respectively. Walker took control with a third round 67 of his own on the Shore. Over his first 54 holes, Walker—who also won the Frys.com Open and Sony Open, giving him the ‘Electronics Slam’—only had one bogey.
Brandt Snedeker, who won in 2013, became the first defending champ to miss the cut since Phil Mickelson in 2008. Round three’s scoring average of 75.019 at Pebble Beach was the third highest on tour for a single round in the last three years, following the second round of the 2012 PGA Championship (78.086) and second round of the 2013 Open Championship (75.373).
In the Pro-Am portion of the event, Renner and Texas restaurateur John Harkey, Jr. won with a score of 31-under.