Brett Walker of Ukiah, Calif., picked a nice time to win his first professional event, and he did so with style.
Walker fired an 8-under 63 Tuesday to get into a playoff, then birdied the first extra hole to defeat Omar Uresti and win the PGA Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club.
Walker started the final round four shots out of the lead, but played his first 10 holes on the Ryder Course in seven-under to charge into contention against a quality leaderboard that included PGA stalwarts Uresti, Rod Perry, Bob Sowards and Ben Kern.
“You hear those names and it’s easy to get intimidated because they’re all great players,” Walker said. “But I focused on my game. I knew I could win. I just didn’t know it would be today.”
The 29-year-old Walker, who spends his winters in Jupiter and works as a PGA Assistant Professional at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, earned $5,400 for the victory. Walker and Uresti finished at 13-under 201 before heading to the par-5 17th as the first playoff hole.
Walker’s second shot from 250 yards went over the green. He chipped to 4 feet and watched as Uresti faced a sidehill 8-foot birdie putt.
“I was expecting Omar to make it,” Walker said. “When he missed it, I was like ‘Wow!’ I was nervous. It wasn’t like an out-of-body experience, but my hands were shaking a little. It means so much to see my hard work pay off.”
Uresti, the reigning Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year, birdied his first four holes to move into a share of the lead Tuesday. He parred the next eight holes before making birdies at the No. 13 and No. 17 to force the playoff. It was the second consecutive year he lost the Stroke Play Championship in a playoff.
Perry of Port Orange, Fla., was tied for the lead, but bogeyed the final hole to miss the playoff by a shot. The bogey was the only blemish during a 5-under 66 that vaulted Perry into a third-place tie at 12-under 202 with Trevor Bensel (68) of Villanova, Pa., who started Tuesday with a two-shot lead.
Sowards (67) of Dublin, Ohio finished fifth at 11-under 203, a shot ahead of Kern (68-204) of Georgetown, Texas and Joe Summerhays (68-204) of Syracuse, Utah.
Defending champion Jason Caron (67-206) of Oyster Bay, N.Y., tied for ninth. Caron, a former Jupiter resident, was recently named PGA Professional Player of the Year.
The Stroke Play Championship is part of the PGA Winter Championships, which are presented by GolfPass and PrimeSport.