The 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club
Baltusrol Golf Club’s renowned Lower Course provided a fitting test for the world’s best players at the 2016 PGA Championship. Jimmy Walker shot a five-under-par 65 in the first round followed by a 66 in the second round to share the lead with Robert Streb, who shot a Major-tying record 63 in the second round. Henrik Stenson, Emiliano Grillo, and Jason Day, who due to an illness did not step foot on the Lower until his Wednesday practice round, rounded out the top five. On Saturday, mid-day summer storms intervened to force a suspension of play before the leaders could tee off for their third rounds.
Despite the suspension of play on Saturday, there was hope the field could complete the third and final rounds on Sunday to avoid carrying over into Monday. Late in the morning, Walker finished his penultimate round with a two-under-par 68, giving him a three-round, 11-under score of 199. Following the third round play, Walker held a one-stroke lead over defending champion Day, who shot a bogey-free 67 in his third round, and a two-shot lead over Stenson and Brooks Koepka. Due to Saturday’s rain delay, the players were afforded preferred lies for the final round on Sunday allowing them to lift, clean, and place their balls on the fairways, and the players were not re-paired for the final round in order to save time.
In his final round, Walker parred each of the first nine holes, remaining at 11-under. Stenson and Day were one stroke off the lead as they made the turn. Walker birdied the tenth and eleventh holesto take a two-stroke lead over Day. But Day was poised to make a move, and playing just ahead of Walker, he birdied the eleventh. Walker and Day each parred the next five holes, until Walker birdied the par-5 seventeenth to build up a three-stroke lead. But on the eighteenth hole and three strokes back, Day hit a massive second shot which led to an impressive eagle 3 to finish with a 67. This put Day within one stroke of the lead as Walker approached the eighteenth. Day’s strong finish proved not to be enough, however, as Walker withstood the late charge and parred the last to capture the title. Walker, who led the field after each of the first three rounds, completed his final round with a three-under par 67, finishing 14-under for the tournament.
The 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club was the final Major tournament of the year, and capped a season in which all four Major victors were first-time champions. Danny Willett won the Masters; Dustin Johnson prevailed in the U.S. Open; and Henrik Stenson captured the British Open. Jimmy Walker’s first Major victory put him in elite company with other Major winners at Baltusrol, among them Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus.