By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Jimmy Walker recently won his first PGA TOUR title and is the early leader in the 2013-14 FedExCup standings. Jordan Spieth and Graham DeLaet both made their Presidents Cup debuts this year.
The trio will experience another ‘first’ this week. They will play their first World Golf Championship at the HSBC Champions, which begins Thursday at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.
Walker didn’t qualify for the HSBC Champions until winning the Frys.com Open on Oct. 13. He’s the FedExCup leader after finishing 12th or better in his first three starts this season.
The HSBC Champions will be Spieth’s first event of the 2013-14 season. The 2013 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year has not played since helping the United States win the Presidents Cup. He went 2-2-0 in the United States’ 18 ½-15 ½ victory. He's been active during his break, though. He made news when he played Pine Valley and Augusta National, the top two golf courses in the United States, in the same day.
Spieth won his first TOUR event, the John Deere Classic, and qualified for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in his rookie season of 2013. The HSBC Champions is actually the second WGC he’s been eligible for, but he passed on the Bridgestone Invitational in the wake of his Deere victory and the last-minute Open Championship entry that came with it. His nine top-10s were tied with Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker for most on TOUR in 2013.
DeLaet also qualified for his first TOUR Championship after posting seven top-10s, including a runner-up at The Barclays and two third-place finishes. He finished seventh at last week's CIMB Classic.
Walker leads the FedExCup standings after winning the season opener and finishing T-12 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and sixth at the CIMB Classic.
Peter Uihlein also is one of the players making his WGC debut this week. Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, has a win and two runners-up this season on the European Tour. He is No. 9 in the Race to Dubai and No. 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Uihlein, 24, finished fifth at last week's BMW Masters, his third consecutive finish of seventh or better.
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Jimmy Walker had to birdie two of his final three holes Friday just to make the cut on the number at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A 64 early Saturday at TPC Summerlin had the winner of last week's Frys.com Open in the top 10 when he completed his round. He was finished before the leaders even teed off, and he'll slide down the leaderboard as he sits in the clubhouse and his competitors take advantage of ideal scoring conditions, but his solid third round has him in position for a good finish the week after his first PGA TOUR victory.
"I felt good. I got a couple putts to go in, and a couple more went in, and I just kept hitting it pretty solid," said Walker, who hit 15 of 18 greens Saturday and had 27 putts, his best performance of the week in each category.
He made the cut without a shot to spare after shooting 71-68 in the first two rounds at TPC Summerlin. He birdied the 18th on Friday after hitting his 107-yard approach shot to 3 feet; he also made a 6-foot birdie putt at the 16th.
He made bogey at his second hole Saturday but followed with nine birdies and no bogeys. It's been a hectic week for Walker, who visited family in Utah on Monday and Tuesday after winning the Frys.com Open on Sunday in Northern California; he arrived at TPC Summerlin on noon Tuesday. Walker, who photographs the stars as a hobby, missed a lunar eclipse Friday night because of all the activity.
"I didn't know about that," Walker admitted. "My astronomy this week has kind of taken a back seat."
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Jimmy Walker was headed to a drug store to obtain a passport photo after his press-room interview Wednesday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Walker's win at last week's Frys.com Open drastically improved his schedule for the 2013-14 season, and left him scrambling for a visa for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is the second of four consecutive events in three countries for Walker. He's also playing next week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions in China, his first start in a WGC event. He didn't qualify for the tournament until winning the Frys.com.
Walker said he may have to spend a day in Hong Kong after the CIMB to wait for his visa to China to clear. "I might be like Tom Hanks in that movie, trapped in an airport," he joked.
Walker shot 17-under 267 at CordeValle Golf Club last week to win his first TOUR event in his 188th career start.
Walker finished 10th at last year's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He is from Texas, but has ties to Las Vegas. His instructor, Butch Harmon, is based here. They have been working together since 2012. He said they've worked on "a couple little things." Walker visits Harmon in Las Vegas a few times per year, including for a few days preceding the Frys.com Open.
"He goes to a lot of the bigger events, and I wasn't in the bigger events," Walker said. That's starting to change.
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
In a first for the PGA TOUR, the new season began in October in California ... instead of January in Hawaii. The picturesque CordeValle Golf Club played host to 132 PGA TOUR members in search of the title and a soaring start to the race for the FedExCup.
Jimmy Walker had threatened in many an event in the past, but had yet to find his way into the winner’s enclosure on the PGA TOUR. Well, all of the hard work and sacrifice led to Walker being dynamite, as he shot a final round 66 to win by two. It was enough to overtake Brooks Koepka and the rest of the title contenders for his first title.
Jimmy has always been a beautiful swinger and a clean ball-striker. His swing, in my opinion, is one of the better actions on the TOUR and I would highly recommend that any golfer watch and emulate elements of his wide and powerful move. The shot, however, that I would like to highlight is a long putt that he hit on the last green.
By his own admission, Walker hit a poor approach to the final green and left himself with a sweeping, long range right-to-lefter that had to climb a ledge in the middle of the putt before it ran downhill toward the cup. With two putts to win the title, Jimmy made a crisp stroke, good contact and rolled the ball to just a few feet beyond the hole. The effort left him close enough to clean up for par and the title. It was a master class in lag putting. I love to work with golfers of all skill levels on lag putting, so it's fun foer me to list a few things Jimmy does very well:
Strike quality: A long-distance putt, as much as any other golf shot, requires a crisp strike. To ensure that you respect this principle, strive to good quality contact over anything else. In fact I would even go so far as to say that contact quality (and as a result distance) is more important than line. To ensure decent contact strive to make a putting stroke where the arc bottoms out and reaches maximum speed in the correct area. Contact can also be improved by keeping the follow-through a little lower than normal. A lower finish will alleviate the tendency to hit putts thin due to the putter swinging upwards too much through impact.
Stability: A stable body is crucial to lag putting success. You've heard the “keep your head down when putting" thing? Well, do so. Further, a simple way to stabilize your body is to adopt strong posture with the body bent from the hips/waist area. Also, carry the body weight slightly forward in the feet (over the balls of the feet) with a slightly wider stance. Then, after you have made a rhythmic swing of the arms and the putter around the stable body, hold the follow-through with your eyes on the ground where the ball was for a count of two seconds. This will just ensure that you have committed completely toward stability. It takes discipline, but it's worth it.
A good drill: A simple drill to test whether you have achieved the two listed principles is to putt a quarter. Set a quarter (any coin will do) in the area that your ball is usually located in your stance. Address it, and then swing your putter back and through. If you made a stable and decent stroke that bottomed-out in the correct area, you would strike the coin. Once you have become proficient at hitting the coin consistently, replace it with a golf ball. You will notice better contact, and as a result, better lag putts.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman,
is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State
University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his
instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
Nursing a slim two-shot lead in Sunday’s final round of the Frys.com Open, the last thing Jimmy Walker needed to do was hit his tee shot in the water on the short, drivable par-4 17th hole, so he bailed out to the left. His tee shot landed pin-high on a steep embankment left of the green, hardly a “gimmie” par from where he was standing, with the green sloping sharply away from him and water on the other side. Add the pressure of the situation (Walker was seeking his first PGA TOUR win in his 188th start) and the lie of the ball below his feet, and Walker had every reason to feel a bit squeamish. But he deftly pitched the ball to 12 feet, two-putted, and walked away with his par, all but locking up his first title.
What makes this shot so difficult for the average weekend golfer is the water staring them in the face, for one, and the downhill lie. To get the ball close or stop it anywhere on the green, you have to hit it on a high, soft trajectory, and the lie doesn’t encourage this. If the ball comes out too low it’s more than likely going to run into the water — and, of course, there’s the danger of catching the top half of the ball and blading it across the green.
To ensure the ball comes off high and soft, follow these simple cues:
-- As you approach the ball, aim your body as if you’re going to hit the ball a good 10 yards left of the flagstick. Then set your clubface down at a right angle (i.e., perpendicular) to where you want the ball to start and also land on the green. If your target line is the flagstick, then that’s where the face needs to point. The ball should be positioned slightly forward of center in your stance.
-- Next, lower the handle toward the ground and bow more forward with your chest so that your sternum is directly over the ball. Your weight should favor your left side. By dropping the handle, the left wrist starts to cock, or hinge, which helps to get the clubhead moving more up on the backswing.
-- The backswing is nothing more than an arm swing and a hinging of the wrists; don’t worry about turning your shoulders. As you swing your arms back, keep your sternum over the ball, as this helps the clubhead travel more vertically. The left arm should not swing much beyond parallel.
-- From the top, let the club fall, turning your chest to the target while maintaining the flex in your left knee. You must keep the knee solid, as this allows you to sustain the same height through impact and control the point of entry slightly behind and underneath the ball. It’s very similar to a bunker shot. Follow these keys and you should be able to make safe work of this potentially treacherous situation.
Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com.
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Jimmy Walker is more than just a great golfer and winner of the Frys.com Open. He is also an astrophotographer. He takes pictures of the stars and objects in the night sky -- far out!
Some golfers think they should focus all their energies on playing and practicing because they follow the mantra that to be the best you must worker harder than the next person. While hard work is essential to build a solid golf swing, you will need balance in your life to build a great mental game.
All work and no play adds to the pressure you will feel on the golf course. Let me explain: If you place all your ego eggs into the proverbial golf basket, you will have a greater tendency to get more stressed during important events. That is, if golf is your only outlet for self-esteem, then you will have a greater need to demonstrate your competence in a positive way. And with a greater need to demonstrate your self-esteem comes greater anxiety.
Outside interests like photography, painting, or playing the guitar can nourish your self-esteem and fill you up with positive feelings of self-worth. Then, when you step on the golf course, you will not feel the need to always play your best and shoot a great score. Outside interests will diminish your anxiety on the golf course, and as a result, increase the chances of you playing better more often.
Jack Nicklaus was the epitome of someone who diversified his life’s portfolio. During his playing days, he designed golf courses, had a golf manufacturing business and was a wonderful father. Nicklaus mentioned that he would bounce back much quicker from a bad round because he had so many outside interests that buffered the blow of playing poorly. Nicklaus further stated that all his “other golf” activities provided getaways which refreshed and renewed his eagerness for competitive golf.
Invest in many outside activities and have a balance to your life’s portfolio. In turn, you will see your golf game accrue in the long run.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- Jimmy Walker won his first PGA TOUR title in his 188th career start, shooting a final-round 66 to win the Frys.com Open by two shots over Vijay Singh.
Walker finished at 17-under 267 (70-69-62-66). "I feel a release right now," Walker said. "It feels really good."
He earned 500 FedExCup points and his first Masters invitation with the win. This was his first win since the 2007 National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic on the Web.com Tour.
"I wouldn’t take back anything I’ve ever done or anything I’ve gone through to get here,” Walker said.
Brooks Koepka, the 54-hole leader, shot 72 on Sunday to tie for third with Kevin Na, Scott Brown and Hideki Matsuyama. Koepka, 23, was playing this week on a sponsor exemption; he was playing his first PGA TOUR event, excluding majors.
Walker made birdie at the par-5 15th to reach 17 under and take a one-shot lead over Koepka, who bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17.
Walker finished fourth at last year's Frys.com Open, shooting 62 in the final round.
Jimmy Walker won his first PGA TOUR title Sunday at the Frys.com Open in his 188th career start. He shot 62-66 on the weekend to finish two shots ahead of Vijay Singh. Want to congratulate Walker? Leave a note in the comments section below and we'll deliver it to him.
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Jimmy Walker now shares the CordeValle Golf Club tournament course record with … himself.
Walker shot 62 on Saturday to get into contention at the Frys.com Open. He’s at 12-under 201, three shots behind leader Brooks Koepka, after shooting 70-69-62. He shot a final-round 62 here last year to finish fourth.
He wasn’t the only player with a record-tying round Saturday. George McNeill also shot 62 and is 13 under par after three rounds. Both players shot 31-31, making 10 birdies and one bogey.
“It was a lot of fun,” McNeill said. “Sixty-two, I don’t know how it could ever not be fun. … I figured out something on the range last night and my swing was much more comfortable today. I felt free so I could go ahead and aim at some flags. I pulled it off and made some putts.
Walker is seeking his first PGA TOUR win. McNeill has two PGA TOUR wins – one of those came in Las Vegas when that event also had Frys.com as the title sponsor -- but neither victory qualified him for the Masters. Sunday’s winner will earn a Masters invitation.
“You need a little bit of luck and you need to play good,” Walker said about winning. He has one runner-up and two third-place finishes in 187 PGA TOUR starts. “Maybe just haven’t played as good as I need to on the last day.”