Putter carries Walker to Valero lead
March 27, 2015
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Jimmy Walker shot a 5-under 67 in the second round. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO — Jimmy Walker felt right at home at TPC San Antonio during the second round. With friends and family in the crowd, the FedExCup points leader and local resident put on a show with three straight birdies in a four hole stretch to take the clubhouse lead at the halfway point of the Valero Texas Open.
Walker opened the morning with two birdies in his first five holes before recording his only bogey of the round on the par-4 17th hole when his 7-foot par putt slid by the cup. His lone blemish on the card ended up being the turning point in the round, as Walker closed his first nine with a birdie before making three more over the next nine holes, including a 19-footer on the par-3 7th hole, to shoot 5-under 67.
"I was just kind of around the hole, didn't make anything, and then finally got one to go on six," Walker said. "I hit a good iron shot, just got it on top of the ridge there on 7 and made that putt. And that 12-footer I made for birdie on the par-5 [8th hole], that was a nice little finish."
Through two rounds, the putter has been the most important club in Walker's bag and has him not only leading the field in strokes gained-putting (plus-6.536), but the tournament as well.
Earlier this season, Walker returned to the 11-year-old Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter he won twice with and topped the money list on the 2004 Web.com Tour. The putter played an intergral role in Walker's victory at the 2015 Sony Open, as he recorded 11 consecutive one-putts during the third round to distance himself from the field.
Walker had the putter restored to its original condition and 10-gram tungsten weights added to the sole, which provided the weight he prefers.
"I've been rolling it pretty good," Walker said. "I've been working hard on my putting at home and it was ready to go this week. It feels like the hard work is paying off."
The putter has Walker two rounds away from winning his hometown tournament. The four-time PGA TOUR winner has had a couple close calls in recent years, including a T3 in 2010. With a win already under his belt this season, Walker has his sights set on getting another with his friends and family in the stands — something he said would make the victory extra special.
"A win anywhere means a lot," Walker said. "But being at home, you get to have parents, in-laws, friends, best friends, distant family. It would be cool. It doesn't put anymore pressure on you, I think. If anything, you've got a nice support crew out there and you've got good vibes and good mojo — and I believe in all that stuff. So I think positive energy is good. I think we'll have a lot of that."
Jimmy Walker’s 6-under leads the field at Valero
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Following a day that saw the scoring average soar to 76.69 and wind gusts upwards of 30-plus miles per hour, players were greeted with considerably better conditions during the second round of the Valero Texas Open. Jordan Spieth was one of the players who took advantage during the morning wave, firing a 3-under 69 to get within striking distance of the leaders after two rounds.
While favorable scoring conditions are expected over the next two days, Spieth said he wouldn't mind seeing Mother Nature make an appearance on the weekend.
"I would like to see a little bit more wind than today on the weekend to have a chance to shoot a few under and make up some ground," Spieth said. "Overall, I'm very pleased with today. I got a really good draw today, on top of yesterday, and took advantage."
Spieth, who played with clubhouse leader Jimmy Walker and James Hahn, took advantage of benign weather conditions, carding five birdies to go along with two bogeys. If not for a bogey on the par-4 9th hole, Spieth's last of the day, the two-time PGA TOUR winner would have finished only one shot back of Walker.
Even with the bogey finish, Spieth remained bullish about his chances going into the weekend.
"It played about as easy as I think it can play today," Spieth said. "A couple of the holes were still in tough locations, but there should be some more gettable locations this weekend. But all in all, this was the day to take advantage.
"I'm in contention which is right where I want to be. I'm chasing Aaron [Baddeley] and Jimmy [Walker], two really, really good players that aren't going to give up the lead easily, so I'm going to have to bring my A-game."
LUCK OF THE DRAW: Kevin Na will always be remembered for the 16 he record on the par-4 9th hole at TPC San Antonio's Oak Course in 2011, but he's trying his best this week to earn a new title: Valero Texas Open champion.
Na put himself in a good position to make a run at the leaders after posting a 4-under 68 that has him within two shots of Jimmy Walker heading into the weekend.
For the second day in a row, Na managed to get the correct side of the draw, missing Thursday's weather that wreaked havoc on the morning wave and returning to the course on Friday to favorable scoring conditions.
"We definitely got a break in the afternoon wave yesterday," Na said. "And I think we're catching another break today. Sometimes you need a little break. When you do get one you need to capitalize."
Na managed to capitalize on his good fortune by converting a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th hole that appeared to kickstart his round. Four more birdies were added to the card over the final 15 holes, including a 17-footer on the par-4 9th hole that left him feeling good about his chances.
"I really like this course and played well today," Na said. "I've got a history, obviously. Besides that hole, I played great. I look forward to coming here and hopefully I'll do something special."
Kevin Na interview after Round 2 of Valero
ODDS & ENDS
Since moving to TPC San Antonio in 2010, this week's 6-over 150 supplants the previous-high cut of 4-over 148 (2011 and 2012). ...
Outside of the majors, this marks the highest cut on the PGA TOUR since the 2012 Quicken Loans National which featured a cut of 6-over 148. ...
Without a three-putt in the first two rounds, Freddie Jacobson extended his TOUR lead of 3-putt avoidance to 380 holes. ...
Since 2000, six of the 15 second-round leaders/co-leaders of the Valero Texas Open have gone on to win the event, most recently Steven Bowditch last year. ...
Harris English still has a chance to make the Masters field. The No. 53-ranked player in the world sits at 3-over for the tournament and likely needs to finish in seventh-place or better this week. ...
Daniel Chopra (back), Francesco Molinari (wrist), Danny Lee (vertigo-like symptoms) and Zac Blair (back) withdrew during the second round with injuries. A total of seven players withdrew during the first two rounds. ...
After two rounds only 14 players are under par at the Valero Texas Open. ...
The par-4 9th hole played as the most difficult in the second round at 4.42. The par-5 14th hole played the easiest at 4.71. ...
Aaron Baddeley, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is in search of his first win on TOUR since the 2011 Northern Trust Open, a span of 95 starts. ...
Zach Johnson (1-under 71) recorded the only bogey-free second round.
CALL OF THE DAY: Fred Albers calls Jimmy Walker's birdie at No. 8 in the second round of the Valero Texas Open.
Free play-by-play coverage of the third round streams from 1-6 p.m. ET Saturday on PGATOUR.COM.
Check out the best photos from Friday at TPC San Antonio.