Classy Jimmy Walker seized his chance at US PGA and has an old-fashioned swing built to last

Sam Torrance
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PGA Championship - Final Round
Walker held off Jason Day and Henrik Stenson to win his first Major on Sunday (Source: Getty)

Jimmy Walker, chasing his first Major title at the age of 37, could quite easily have been affected by having to play his last 36 holes of the of the US PGA Championship in one day on Sunday.

Instead, the minimal break in between his third and fourth rounds, following delays caused by the threat of lightning on Saturday, only seemed to help him preserve momentum.

Walker showed his intentions with an exceptional third-round back nine, coming home in just 32 as defending champion Jason Day and recent Open winner Henrik Stenson loomed.

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That showed a lot of class and, after making par on all of the front nine in his final round, he played beautifully – particularly at 10, where he chipped in from a bunker, and 11, where he sank a 30ft birdie.

It was magnificent and kept him in front, while Day and Stenson started to falter.

Walker’s rise hasn’t always been smooth. He was in his mid-30s before he broke the world top 100 but marked himself out as one to watch with five wins in an 18-month period between 2013 and 2015.

This was his week and his time, and he is certainly equipped to stay at the summit.

I’ve always loved his game. He is very long and has an exceptional putting stroke. Butch Harmon, who has worked with Walker, calls him an old-fashioned swinger, with lots of rhythm. It’s a swing that’s built to last, not one that will put too much stress on his body.

This could prove to be a turning point for Walker, and effectively ensures his place in America’s Ryder Cup team later this year.

Day and Stenson put up good fight

Day, who had said he was running on empty after illness hit his family just before the tournament, put up a great defence. After a few loose drives on the front nine he made his move after the turn but didn’t quite have enough.

Stenson also faded, but only in the last few holes and after playing well. He arrived at the US PGA little more than a week after winning the Open, and it is very difficult to maintain that level of concentration.

Two English youngsters deserve a mention. Tyrrell Hatton is on the fringe of the top 50 after he tied for 10th at Baltusrol, while Matt Fitzpatrick closed with a 67 to remain on course for a Ryder Cup debut.

My pride at 12th Ryder Cup

I was very proud to be named Europe skipper Darren Clarke’s fifth vice-captain for this year’s contest at Hazeltine in September last week. It’s great news and I am delighted.

I’ve been a vice-captain twice before and I’ll be doing exactly what I did then: milling about and keeping an eye on the players – whatever Darren asks me to do.

This will be my 12th Ryder Cup as a player, captain or vice-captain. Until 2014 Gleneagles I’d been away for more than a decade but I have always adored it. It’ll be fantastic to be back.

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