PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp wins Mexico Open

PGA Tour rookie Jake Knapp is now a PGA Tour winner, taking home the Mexico Open on Sunday after shooting 19-under for the week, beating fellow rookie Sami Valimaki by two strokes.

Knapp started the round with a commanding four-shot lead, but let it slip away as his driver — the foundation of his first three rounds — betrayed him. Knapp hit two fairways in 18 holes on Sunday, and is the first PGA Tour player since 1983 to hit two or fewer fairways in his final round and win. Knapp hit 33 of 39 fairways Thursday-Saturday.

Still, he secured the win after putting his drive on 18 into a left fairway bunker. Valimaki, needing eagle to force the playoff, went for broke and missed — his monster drive hit the cart path right and settled underneath a fence. Valimaki immediately began asking how much of a cushion he had over the trio in third place. A few moments later Knapp had a tap-in par and lifted his arms in triumph.

“Just grinding it out,” Knapp told NBC of his final round.

Knapp, 29, is just that — a professional golf grinder. The skill was always there — during high school, he shot a 58 on his home course and then a 61 during U.S. Open qualifying, and eventually matriculated to UCLA — but he struggled to gain traction upon turning pro in 2016.

Three years ago he did not have status on any tour and was working as a security guard at a nightclub. But he used conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour to finish 13th in the season-long standings in 2023, and claim his PGA Tour card for this season.

He tied for third at the Farmers Insurance Open last month, and was T28 at the WM Phoenix Open. Then he followed up his opening-round 67 at Vidanta with a 64 on Friday and a 63 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead over Valimaki into the final round. Only three players were within seven shots of the lead.

Knapp, No. 125 in the world per, stumbled out of the gate with bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3, though, and quickly found himself in a tie with Valimaki, who had a birdie and eagle on the front nine.

Knapp eventually steadied himself, gaining a stroke on his playing partner when he parred No. 13 and Valimaki bogeyed, and then giving himself another when he birdied on the Par-5 14th and Valimaki settled for par.

Knapp takes home $1.458 million for the win. He’ll be in the Masters and PGA Championship, as well as The Players Championship next month. He’s also now fully exempt through the 2026 PGA Tour season and will be in all signature events for the rest of this year.

(Photo of Jake Knapp: Hector Vivas / Getty Images)

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