SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Jimmy Walker’s first PGA Tour trophy came with a special gift tucked inside.
A yellow “Masters 2014” flag.
It was a not-so-subtle reminder the Frys.com Open is no longer a Fall Series event for players to chase their Tour cards at the end of the year, but the start of the PGA Tour’s new 2013-14 season that comes with all the perks.
And it was a reminder to the 34-year-old Walker he gets to go places where he always felt he belonged.
In his eighth season and his 188th tournament — and with a little help from 23-year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident Brooks Koepka — Walker won a back-nine duel Sunday by making a 6-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and closing with three pars for a 5-under-par 66.
The Texan had a 17-under 267 total and earned $900,000 for his two-stroke victory.
“This was the final steppingstone,” said Walker, who has played on more tours than he can remember to get to the big leagues.
Koepka (72), a Cardinal Newman graduate and FSU Seminole, had a four-shot lead with 11 holes remaining until he began missing short putts, all of them to the left. He tied for third at 14 under.
Koepka said, “I just didn’t make the shots I needed to win. . . . But just try to learn from the whole experience. Anytime you can put yourself in that kind of pressure, it’s always good. If you take something from it, that’s even better.”
Vijay Singh (68) posted the 27th runner-up finish of his Hall of Fame career. It was the 50-year-old’s best result since he sued the Tour in May over its procedure in investigating his admission he used deer antler spray.
Andres Gonzales (69) of Olympia tied for 16th at 10 under. Kyle Stanley (70) of Gig Harbor tied for 33rd at 7 under. Michael Putnam (74) from University Place tied for 62nd at 1 under.
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