[February 26, 2024]
Jake Knapp didn't have his A game on Sunday. But after three
days of birdie binges, an even-par finish was more than enough to
get the job done.
Knapp carded a final-round 71, fended off Finland's Sami Valimaki by
two strokes and won the Mexico Open at Vidanta for his first PGA
Tour title in Vallarta, Mexico.
The tour rookie entered the day with a four-shot lead on Valimaki
and played with him in the final Sunday pairing at Vidanta Vallarta.
After a shaky start saw Knapp briefly lose the lead, he steeled
himself down the stretch to complete a 19-under 265 week.
"Didn't necessarily have my best stuff today, that's for sure,"
Knapp told the Golf Channel broadcast. "Knew it was nerve-wracking,
knew it was going to be tough. Kind of told (his caddie), I was
like, ‘After those first three holes, that's as bad as we could have
played and we've still got a two-shot lead.'"
Knapp, 29, took time away from golf in 2021 and 2022, saving up
money while working as a bouncer at a restaurant/bar in his hometown
of Costa Mesa, Calif. After returning to the Korn Ferry Tour, he
earned his PGA Tour card for the first time last fall and quickly
made noise with a T3 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in
Now Knapp is now fully exempt on tour through the 2026 season and
has played his way into The Players Championship, the Masters, the
PGA Championship and the five remaining signature events of 2024.
On Sunday, Knapp bogeyed Nos. 1 and 3, then watched Valimaki birdie
the fourth hole. At the short par-4 seventh, Valimaki's drive rolled
to about 6 feet of the pin, and he made the ensuing eagle putt to
take the lead at 18 under.
But that's where Knapp made the first of his two birdies Sunday,
despite his tee shot landing in a bunker. After he matched Valimaki
at 18 under, Knapp added a birdie at the par-5 14th despite a
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In fact, the Californian found just 2 of 13
fairways in regulation Sunday after missing a combined six over the
first three rounds, when he shot 67-64-63 with 23 birdies.
"It would have been nice to hit driver better and
hit it a little bit better, but was super pumped on how I played in
the finishing stretch," Knapp said Sunday. "Yeah, just grinded it
Knapp saved three straight pars before hitting his tee shot at the
par-5 18th hole into a bunker. But Valimaki, sitting two back, had
his drive land under the out-of-bounds fence and he had to take an
unplayable lie and a penalty stroke.
Knapp calmly got out of the bunker and finished up with a par.
Valimaki also managed a par to tie up a final-round 69 and 17-under
267 over four days in Mexico.
"I feel like I have the game to win over here, it just wasn't this
Sunday," Valimaki said. "I mean, I was four behind, yesterday was
Jake's day and he kept it going on the back nine so I feel like I
didn't lose it today."
Stephan Jaeger of Germany (65 Sunday), C.T. Pan of Taiwan (65) and
Justin Lower (68) tied for third at 14 under. Patrick Rodgers carded
a 67 and tied with Scotland's Robert MacIntyre (69) for sixth at 13
Tony Finau, the highest-ranked player in the field and the
tournament's defending champion, finished the week 69-67-69-68 and
tied for 13th at 11 under.
--Field Level Media
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