Jimmy Walker was getting coffee Sunday morning when he saw that U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer had lost a 10-shot lead with 13 holes to play in Abu Dhabi. He went back to his room and told his wife, "Winning is hard."
Later that afternoon in Honolulu, Walker made it look easy.
With the most impressive performance of his career, Walker blew away the field Sunday in the Sony Open by closing with a 7-under 63 to win by nine shots, a record margin for the tournament and the biggest rout on the PGA Tour in nearly six years.
Walker watched Jordan Spieth win the Hero World Challenge last month by 10 shots against an 18-man field and wondered if he was on another planet.
"And that's kind of the way it feels when you watch those performances," Walker said. "You see them and are like, 'Man, what golf course is that guy playing?' And to be able to say you've done that and you've distanced yourself like that, it's really cool. I think it's a good learning experience. Definitely happy to keep the pedal down."
The timing could not have been better.
Six days ago on Maui, Walker lost a tournament he felt he should have won. Sunday on Oahu, he played like he was on his own island.
On a course that lends itself to a free-for-all, Walker shot 62-63 on the weekend and never gave anyone much of a chance. The previous Sony Open record for margin of victory was seven shots, last done by Paul Azinger in 2000.
Scott Piercy closed with a 66 to finish alone in second. Matt Kuchar, who started the final round two shots out of the lead, didn't make a birdie and shot 71 to tie for third with Harris English and Gary Woodland, who each had a 67. Kuchar ended his streak of 255 rounds on the PGA Tour with at least one birdie.
But this was Walker's show, and it came with a small measure of redemption. Walker had a three-shot lead with five holes to play at Kapalua last Monday when he wound up losing to Patrick Reed in a playoff at the Tournament of Champions. With a quick turnaround, he quickly put it behind him.
"I really wanted to finish out the day like I didn't do last week," Walker said.
He finished at 23-under 257.
France's Gary Stal took advantage of Martin Kaymer's collapse to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for his first European Tour title.
Stal closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 19-under 269 and beat top-ranked Rory McIlroy (66) by a stroke. Kaymer, 10 strokes ahead with 13 holes left, shot a 75 and finished two strokes back.