PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp wins Mexico Open

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[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 January.

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 wayward drive.

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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 out."

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 under.

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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