Three-peat the goal for Walker at Sony Open
Jimmy Walker could become just fifth player to win tournament three straight years
January 13, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Jimmy Walker is all smiles at Waialae. Why shouldn't he be? He's 63-under here since 2011. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The list of players to have won a tournament three years in a row on the PGA TOUR is a short one. Only Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Stuart Appleby have done so.
This week, Jimmy Walker will try to add his name to the list.
“I feel good about being here and being back,” Walker said Wednesday at the Sony Open in Hawaii. “I can get out and shoot the golf shots and see the holes again. You have good memories. And especially last year, I can remember just hitting some really quality shots coming in and making good putts.”
That’s an understatement.
Last season, Walker shot 62-63 on the weekend and blew away the field, winning by a tournament-record nine over Scott Piercy.
The year before was a bit closer. He shot 63 on Sunday to hold off Chris Kirk by a stroke.
No matter how he has won, there’s a certain confidence that Walker has around Waialae CC. It suits his eye, and he drives it straight and has putted well -- characteristics that all in the threepeat club seemed to have.
“There’s an internal comfort and quietness when you come to a place where you play well,” said Appleby, who won in Maui from 2004 through 2006. “For me at Kapalua, I seemed to pull the right club a lot. For him, he might feel great on the greens.
“There’s a confidence that everything’s going to be OK. You’re not surprised by playing well. It’s hard to describe. Winning breeds winning. Tiger’s a great example of that.”
Six times Woods has won a tournament three years running, including having done it four years straight twice, at Bay Hill and Torrey Pines.
Stricker did it three years in a row at the John Deere Classic from 2009 to 2011 and nearly won it in 2012, too.
“It gets a bit harder every year,” he said. “The expectations are there for you do well, even after one year. Those expectations keep growing.
“But guys when they have won tournaments three years in a row the course fits them well, they like the course and have all these good feelings and are positive going there so that helps.”
That doesn’t make it any easier.
In the four major sports three-peats are just as rare. It has happened in the NBA and NHL five times, Major League Baseball four times and zero times in the NFL (though the Green Bay Packers did win three straight titles twice in the pre-Super Bowl era).
Walker’s bid for even just a repeat got off to a bumpy start. Last year he bogeyed the first hole of the week.
The miscue also came after he’d lost in a playoff the week before. Still, it was clear he was in good form, which is often a big part of the equation.
When Appleby and Stricker had their three-peats, they were in the midst of playing some of their best golf.“I won my (high school) 4A regional golf tournament four years in a row, freshman through senior.”
The last few years the same could be said about Walker. He has finished inside the top 20 in the FedExCup, making his first two trips to East Lake, and in the top 25 in the Official World Ranking each of the past two seasons after ranking 120th in 2012.
It has also become something of a big goal for the 36-year-old.
“Throughout your career you've got these milestones and goals that you want to accomplish,” he said. “Obviously win a tournament, win another tournament, get that monkey off your back.
“There's little things, and then win a major. Can you win two majors. There's just little milestones, and to be able to win three tournaments in a row, that would be very cool. It's not something that happens a whole lot. So I think that would be something to really be proud of.”
It’s also something that Walker has actually accomplished before -- sort of.
“I won my (high school) 4A regional golf tournament four years in a row, freshman through senior,” he said. “So yes, I have.”
Jimmy Walker wins the 2015 Sony Open in Hawaii