Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Walker takes Pebble Beach, Coetzee triumphs in Joburg

AFP, PEBBLE BEACH, California

Despite squandering a big lead, Jimmy Walker held on for a one-shot victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to earn his third win in eight US PGA Tour starts this season.

Walker carded a two-over-par 74 in the final round for an 11-under-par total of 276, rolling in a five-footer for par at the 72nd hole to claim the trophy.

Two-time Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Dustin Johnson tied Jim Renner for second at 277, with Johnson climbing up the leaderboard on 66 and Renner carding a 77.

Walker had held a six-shot lead when the third round of the weather-disrupted tournament was wrapped up on Sunday morning.

He had come from behind in his prior two victories this season: at the Frys.com Open in October last year, which was the first event of the US tour’s “wrap-around” 2013-2014 season, and at the Sony Open last month.

At Sunday’s event, Jordan Spieth carded a 67 and Kevin Na a 68 to share fourth on eight-under 279, while Hunter Mahan posted an even-par 72 to claim sixth on 280.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell — playing at Pebble Beach for the first time since winning the 2010 US Open on the iconic course in California — closed with a 67 for 281. He was joined in seventh place by Pat Perez (71) and New Zealand’s Tim Wilkinson (73).

Walker’s six-stroke third-round lead dropped to five strokes when he was unable to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the first hole.

Birdies at the second and eighth let him rebuild his cushion, but he was feeling the pressure of being expected to win on the back nine.

Walker bogeyed the 10th from a bunker, but responded with a 10-foot birdie at 11.

He missed the green at the par-three 12th en route to a bogey and after a three-putt bogey at 13 his lead was down to three strokes.

A three-putt bogey at 17 — after Johnson and Renner both birdied 18 — sent Walker to the final tee with a one-shot lead and he promptly fired his tee shot into the right rough.

His attempt to lay up was also in the rough and from there he left himself more than 20 feet to the pin. Walker ran his birdie attempt five feet past, but then made the par putt coming back to seal the win.

JOBURG OPEN

AP, Johannesburg

George Coetzee came from four shots back to win the Joburg Open and claim his first European Tour title, as well as a place at the British Open on a profitable Sunday for the South African.

Coetzee’s final-round six-under 66, with six birdies and no bogeys, took him to 19-under 268 overall and past compatriots Thomas Aiken and Justin Walters, the overnight co-leaders.

The 27-year-old Coetzee was flawless on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to clinch his maiden title in his 107th tour event, a sequence that included 24 top-10 finishes.

“I don’t know what I’m feeling,” Coetzee said. “I’m lost for words.”

“I got to share this with my family and my friends,” the first-time winner added. “It was my mum’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to do it for her as I forgot to buy her a present.”

Coetzee was the sixth South African to win the title in eight Joburg Opens.

Coetzee won by three shots from England’s Tyrrell Hatton (66), South Korea’s Jin Jeong (71) and Walters (73), who needed an eagle on the last to take Coetzee to a playoff and made bogey instead.

Jeong and Walters got the other two British Open places on offer at Royal Joburg, with Hatton missing out because his world ranking was lower than the two he tied with for second, the European Tour said.

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