PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Jimmy Walker is bidding to become the ninth first-time winner at the Northern Trust Open, and the first since Len Mattiace won at Riviera in 2002.
The Texan has momentum, too, after tying for ninth last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the second straight year. He ended up sharing fourth at last year's Northern Trust Open so his success -- Walker started the third round at 4 under after shooting 66 Friday -- here is hardly unprecedented.
In fact, according to Walker's wife, Erin, Riviera is Walker's favorite course. Here is what she wrote in her blog at www.tourwifetravels.com
"As I have said before, the West Coast Swing is always a highlight of our year and especially our week at Riviera. I may have said this last year, but whenever anyone asks Jimmy what his favorite course to play his answer is always Riviera. He claims that if he could only play one course, every day for the rest of his life, this course would be it. (And yes, he has played Augusta before!)"
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Jimmy Walker came to the Northern Trust Open last year with momentum after tying for ninth at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He went on to shoot three rounds in the 60s at Riviera and finish in a tie for fourth.
Walker is in an even better position at the midway point of this year's tournament -- ironically, on the heels of another tie for ninth on the Monterey Peninsula. He fired the morning's low round of 66 at Riviera and is tied for second at 4 under, two strokes behind Phil Mickelson.
"I really like Riv," Walker said. "It's got a lot of history, and it's a great golf course. I like a lot of stuff about it."
He's not particularly pleased with his driver, though. Walker has only hit 13 of 28 fairways during the first two rounds, although he has managed to find all but 13 greens in regulation.
"You guys noticed that, huh?" Walker said when reminded of his wayward tee shots. "I did, too, and I started to drive it a little better coming down the stretch. I hit a few more, gave myself some good looks, but ... you can manage the rough out here.
‘For the most part the pins are kind of tough, especially when it starts going downwind, you definitely want to be in the fairway, so that's what I'm going to work on a little bit."
The 33-year-old Walker is still looking for his first PGA TOUR victory. But the former Nationwide Tour Player of the Year is coming off a season where he posted career-bests in top-10 finishes and on both the FedExCup standings and money list.
Walker already has two top-10s and has played in every event outside of the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- one of 29 players in the field this week who can say the same.
"I feel great," Walker said. "I did a lot of conditioning in the off season, and this is my sixth tournament in a row, so I feel like all that is kind of paying off. We've got an RV that we're traveling in, and it helps make you feel like you're at home more, and that helps let you stay out a little longer."
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Jimmy Walker birdied his final hole on Friday for a round of 66 that once again has the Texan contending at the Northern Trust Open.
Walker, who tied for fourth a year ago at Riviera on the strength of a closing 68, tapped in from 23 inches for the final birdie to move to 4 under for the tournament. He shot a sizzling 31 on the front nine, which was his second of the day.
When he finished, Walker was the leader in the clubhouse -- two strokes off the pace being set by Carl Pettersson and Phil Mickelson. He opened with consecutive birdies, then made his only bogey of the day when he three-putted No. 12 before really getting untracked on the front nine.
With perfect weather for their practice rounds this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, several players have tweeted photos from Pebble Beach. Here’s a sampling:
@geoffogilvy "pretty stunning right now"
@IanJamesPoulter 11th hole at Monterey it's very pretty, 183 yards pure
@angryant1910 No15 at mpcc shore course, awesome back drop
@JimmyWalkerPGA @attpbnproam #pgatour #7
@PaulStankowski This never gets old.
PGATOUR.COM’s countdown of the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2012 begins today.
Each day, we’ll also post a note in TOUR Report with the latest list of players.
That will give you an opportunity to weigh in on how you think those players will perform next year – and whether you think we have them ranked too low or too high. After all, just like snowflakes, no two lists will be the same.
So for the debut of this year’s list, here are Nos. 91-100. Click on each player’s link for his preview page, including this year’s new addition of the Three Wise Men – Chris DiMarco, Arron Oberholser and Craig Perks, who offer their takes on each of the players on the list .
Don’t forget to let us know what you think.
NORTON, Mass. – The wind is already fairly brisk at TPC Boston on Monday and by the time the leaders get on the golf course at 1:45 p.m. the gusts could clock in at 20 mph.
Maybe that’s why no one is going really low early like Phil Mickelson did as he posted a 63 on Sunday. Of the 52 players who have played at least at hole right now, 24 are currently over par.
Pat Perez and Jimmy Walker have the day’s low rounds so far, shooting 67s. Walker, who came into the week ranked 48th in the FedExCup, is 4 under for the tournament and projected at No. 51.
But Perez is 1 over for the tournament and could have just made his final Playoffs appearance. He came into the week ranked 63rd and has dropped to 76th in the projections. Only the top 70 advance to next week’s BMW Championship.
On the opposite end of the ledger, Hunter Mahan is doing his best Charley Hoffman impression. Like Hoffman did in shooting a final-round 62 a year ago, Mahan has gotten off to a good start – making birdie on his first three holes to move to 8 under for the tournament and three strokes off the lead held by Bubba Watson.
Marc Leishman, who came into the week holding down the bubble spot at No. 70, is also 3 under for the day through seven holes. He’s currently projected at No. 57.
The afternoon should remain warm, with temperatures in the mid-80s, and dry although a cold front is slowly pushing through New York and western Massachusetts. Rain could enter the picture in the evening.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jimmy Walker started strong this season, posting three top-10s in his first five starts. But he didn't get until another three weeks ago in his last at-bat when he finished one stroke out of a playoff at The Greenbrier Classic.
Walker, who shot a career-low 62 at The Old White TPC that week, appears to have carried that momentum with him to Greensboro after shooting a round of 5 under that left him two strokes off the lead. He made seven birdies and two bogeys, one of which unfortunately came on his final hole.
Still, Walker couldn't be too disappointed.
"I hit it really well all day," he said. "Made a bunch of good putts on the back nine, hit some close shots and kept making some good putts. The bogey on 18 is what it is. I caught a little flyer out of this rough which you can do and or you can have a really bad lie and not hit it anywhere. I hit a good pitch and putt on the last hole, didn't go in. Still a great day. I'm happy with it."
Walker said the putter was key to Thursday's performance. He used just 27. while hitting 8 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. He hopes to continue to ride the momentum into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"I really wasn't worried about the FedExCup yet," Walker, who ranks 63rd, said. "I knew I was in pretty good shape to play two, three, and I just wanted to continue what I did at Greenbrier a couple weeks ago, went home and kept working on the things that were working at Greenbrier. ... (I wanted to) try to carry it into this week and have another solid week and worry about The Playoffs starting. Be playing good and get into the next event."
The biggest reason Anthony Kim is atop the leaderboard entering today’s final round: Ball-striking. In the third round, he hit 17 greens in regulation and tied his career-low with a 62. For the week, Kim has hit 85 percent of his greens -- up from his season average of 61 percent.
And should Kim, currently 92nd in the FedExCup standings, go on to win he’ll move inside the top 30 for the first time since the sixth week of the season when he ranked 26th.
Similarly, Jimmy Walker, who is three shots back, has also had a good week with his irons. He hit all 18 greens in the third round and averaged just 24 feet, 3 inches on those approach shots . That was a big improvement from his first and second round when he hit 12 and 11 greens, respectively.
Maybe the most impressive numbers belong however to Scott Stallings, who is just one back and will play in that final group with Kim. Stallings is 11 under in his last 42 holes with 11 birdies and zero bogeys. His last bogey came on the third hole (his 12th) of the first round.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Jimmy Walker couldn't be too disappointed.
He didn't become the sixth player in PGA TOUR history to shoot a 59 on Saturday at The Greenbrier Classic. But Walker still posted a career-low 62 that vaulted the man who made the cut on the number into a share of the lead when he finished.
It was a big turnaround -- in more ways than one.
"When I finished yesterday I didn't know if I was going to make the cut, and then the wind kind of picked up," Walker said. "(It was) kind of, Hey, we're here. I did it. Let's go make the best of it. You got nothing to lose when you're at the back of the pack.
"I told my wife last night, I was like, I'm just going to go out and attack and see what happens. It worked."
Walker said he got a putting tip from his father, who noticed something while watching The Greenbrier Classic on TV. Walker hit every green and ended up using just 28 putts after taking 29 and 31 in the two previous rounds.
"I wasn't like setting into my left side as he thought I was on
the West Coast this year when I putted really well and played
really well," said Walker, who had three top-10s in his first five
starts but none since. "So I kind of thought about it and talked to
my caddie about it this morning. My coach gave us a good tip about
really talking out putts. He thinks I do better when I talk about
where it's going and this, that, and the other.
"So we talked about a lot of the stuff today. I putted well. I made a lot of good putts. The stroke has felt like it's been there, I just haven't been making anything. I don't think I was rolling it any different today than I have been the last couple weeks."
Walker hit it inside 10 feet nine times on Saturday and made six of those for birdie. He also two-putted the par-5 12th for another birdie and made a 21-footer for his final one at the 16th hole. His previous career low was a 64, shot four times, most recently in the second round of last year's Greenbrier Classic.
Walker, who currently ranks 75th in the FedExCup, tied for fourth at year ago at The Old White TPC so his strong play this week should come as no surprise. Not to mention, he won the 2007 National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic, which was played about two-and-a-half hours away in Bridgeport, W. Va. He went on to win Nationwide Tour Player of the Year honors that season.
"We need to have more tournaments here, I guess," Walker said
with a grin. "When I won that Nationwide Tour event in 2007, I can
remember playing that golf course and thinking was hard the year
before, the two years before. I didn't play real well there, then
got back there and played solid and won it.
"And then last year came here and just enjoyed the golf course, enjoyed the place, enjoyed the Greenbrier. It's kind of fun dressing up at night going dinner and putting a coat on and gambling. Everybody down there is all nice and dressed up. They just run a nice, nice place."
Walker said playing out of the fairway to softer greens on Saturday was key. He ranks 186th in driving accuracy on TOUR this year but he only missed two fairways in the second round.
"If I'm in the fairway, I'll be able to be aggressive," Walker said. "If you're not fairway it's hard to be aggressive. They're going to tuck the pins and make the golf course a lot harder tomorrow, I think. So I'll need to be in the fairway I think to have a good run at playing well and seeing what happens. I don't know what these guys are going to do today. I did what I could do."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COm
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The Old White TPC is being a little more generous in the early going on Saturday.
Not only did Jimmy Walker threaten the magic 59 before settling for a career-low 62, four other rounds of 65 or better have been posted before the leaders of The Greenbrier Classic tee off at 1:50 p.m.
Chris DiMarco got one of those with a bogey-free 64 that moved him back into red numbers at 5 under. Andres Romero, Bob Estes and Kyle Stanley, who played with Walker, all shot 65s – the Argentine moving to 5 under and the other two vaulting to 4 under.
"It's benign out there," DiMarco said. "Didn't get much wind until the back nine. Obviously being the third off the tee the greens were pretty good all day, too. So I was able to keep control of it, hit the ball in the fairway a lot and gave myself some chances. Made a couple good ones; actually left a couple out there."
DiMarco said he missed a 4-footer for birdie on the first hole and another at No. 13. "Other than that, it was a very solid round," the Floridian said. The winds hadn't started swirling Saturday morning, either -- " Yesterday afternoon was probably the toughest wind I played in in a long time," DiMarco said.
"It would never make up its mind. It wasn't like it would go just a quarter one way or the other. It was straight in or straight down on most holes. It was really difficult. You never knew when you were going to get it."
DiMarco finished with a flourish on Saturday as he two-putted for birdie from 36 feet at the par-5 17th and holed an 8-footer at No. 18. He expects the immature greens – all 18 were reseeded with bentgrass over the last 12 months – to be a factor as the afternoon progresses.
"They're tough to reason," DiMarco said. "And then later in the day, I mean, the leaders that go out in probably another two hours, they're going to feel the 75 guys putting out there. It'll make a difference. There's no doubt about it. It was nice to be the third group off and not see any spike marks and kind of have smooth greens."
Even so, DiMarco expects to see some more good scores as the day progresses.
"It's out there right now," he said.