Hometown win indescribable for Walker
Cool demeanor with solid performance led to comfortable victory at the Valero Texas Open
March 29, 2015
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Jimmy Walker learned these boots are made for winning Sunday after capturing his fifth TOUR title. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO — Jimmy Walker spent the entire week battling the elements at TPC San Antonio. So when he arrived at the 18th hole with a four-shot lead, he finally allowed himself the chance to soak up the moment.
For a kid who grew up coming to the Valero Texas Open, the walk up the last was a surreal experience that almost left the local resident, who lives 35 minutes from the course in nearby Boerne, at a loss for words.
"To play this well at home in front of everybody, it's amazing," Walker said. "I don't know how else to describe it or I'd be a writer, like you guys. I don't know how to describe it. It's cool."
For most of the final round, it was Walker who played the part of the "cool" customer. When Jordan Spieth birdied the opening hole to cut the lead to three, Walker didn't waver, matching the two-time PGA TOUR winner shot-for-shot for most of the afternoon.
When he found the trees off the tee on No. 4 — a tee shot Walker called his "worst driver of the week" — Walker managed to get up-and-down for bogey to keep a big number off the card.
"I just tried to stay composed and not get ahead of myself," Walker said. "Out here, no lead is safe and on this golf course a big number is right around the corner if you're not careful."
For Walker, the putter and his play on the par 5's proved to be the difference at TPC San Antonio. He led the field in strokes gained: putting (10.338) and strokes: gained total (20.315) and was a cumulative 12 under on the par 5s.
"I drove it well on the par 5s all week and that helps," Walker said. "If I set myself up good off the tee, the short game is pretty sharp, so that really helps."
With the win, Walker became the first player to record multiple victories on TOUR this season, and the fourth area resident to win the Valero Texas Open since David Ogrin (Garden Ridge) in 1996. He also extended his FedExCup lead to nearly 500 points over new No. 2 Jordan Spieth.
Walker came into the week having not played since the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and said the extra time off allowed him to prepare for an important stretch in the season.
"I've been working hard," Walker said. "Being home the last two weeks has helped. I needed a little recharge after playing a pretty busy West Coast schedule. I just needed the rest."
The rest has certainly paid off. Walker plans to celebrate his win tonight with family and friends before hopping on a plane and heading to Augusta on Monday to play a practice round with Rickie Fowler.
"I'm looking forward to it," Walker said. "You definitely wouldn't want to go there not playing well. I'll get a look at the course and just get ready for an amazing week."
Jimmy Walker prevails for his second win of the season at Valero
FIREWORK FINISH NOT ENOUGH: Jordan Spieth knew it would take a flawless round of golf to catch Jimmy Walker and turn Sunday into a good old fashioned Texas shootout.
For the first nine holes, it appeared the final result would be a foregone conclusion when Walker extended his lead to five shots with a birdie on 8. With the exception of a birdie on the opening hole of the day, Spieth took on the role of spectator on the front nine, never getting closer than three shots.
It looked to be much of the same on the back nine until No. 14 when Spieth rolled in a 45-footer for birdie that sparked a wild finish to the round. While it was a situation of too little, too late, Spieth gave the current FedExCup points leader all he could handle over the final five holes.
Following a birdie on 14, Spieth took dead aim on the next hole, hitting his 147-yard approach shot to 9 feet and converting the birdie putt. It was more of the same on the next two holes, as Spieth used a combination of precision iron play and a hot putter to record four consecutive birdies on Nos. 14-17.
Walker went on to match Spieth's birdies on 16 and 17, all but ending the threat and leaving the 21-year-old wishing that he would've put the pressure on earlier in the round.
"I obviously would have liked to make that run a little earlier to make it a shootout," Spieth said. "But I just didn't have that stuff around that middle stretch of the round, made a couple of costly mistakes, where I was trying to be a little too aggressive. You just can't do that.
"To come from four back was going to be really hard today," Spieth said. "I had to play a flawless, and without any of the bogeys we'd be going to a playoff. Certainly making enough putts and capitalizing on some opportunities, but I've got to watch those wayward shots."
Even with the wayward shots during the final round, Spieth has still been one of the most consistent players on TOUR over the last five months, winning three times worldwide and recording eight top-10 finishes. It's one of the reasons why he feels so good about his game with the first round of the Masters less than two weeks away.
"I feel great with my last start being a win, and this being a runner-up." Spieth said. "I'm going to play next week in Houston on a golf course that's really not well suited for me. I know that going in, so hopefully I can stay calm and collected and just try and pick some tight lines and just trim off the fat, which is what I'm trying to do next week to get ready for Augusta."
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA OF THE DAY
Nothing like winning a golf tournament and getting to drive HOME in your own car! pic.twitter.com/ViTCEqv1mP— Erin Walker (@tourwifetravels) March 30, 2015
"BE SOMEBODY!" https://t.co/cYWiFLaqql— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 29, 2015
Thanks for coming out, Texas. Tough go of it at times, but course in great shape & crowd solid. See y'all next year. pic.twitter.com/Xzu4HkjYue— Pat Perez (@PatPerezGolf) March 29, 2015
CALL OF THE DAY
Doug Bell calls Jimmy Walker's birdie at No. 17 en route to winning the Valero Texas Open.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Jimmy Walker’s walk-in birdie putt is the Shot of the Day
SUCCESSFUL MASTERS PREP: Despite finishing nine shots back of eventual winner Jimmy Walker, Ryan Palmer managed to leave the Valero Texas Open, his final tune-up event before the Masters, with some positives.
"Today was big, just to see some putts go in," Palmer said. "I just played solid. It was a roller coaster week. I mean five doubles ... to still have a top-10 is good."
Palmer's improved play during the final round could be attributed to his putter — a club that seemed to desert him during the second round.
The three-time PGA TOUR winner shot 4-under 68 and needed only 26 putts (fewest of the week) during the final round. He finished the week seventh in strokes gained: putting (5.224) and led the field in strokes gained: total during the final round.
With TPC San Antonio in his rearview, Palmer is setting his sights on Augusta National Golf Club, where he'll play practice rounds next weekend in preparation for the season's first major.
"It's there, I'm looking forward to it," Palmer said. "I'm going to go home for the week and do some work and go up early Saturday and play Sunday. I'm excited where I'm at."
SOMETHING ABOUT SAN ANTONIO: If Daniel Summerhays had his way, every PGA TOUR event would be played at TPC San Antonio.
"If I could play every event at the Valero Texas Open, at TPC San Antonio, I'd have a pretty high World Ranking because it seems to be pretty good to me," Summerhays joked after finishing T4 for the week.
Summerhays has finished inside the top-10 the last three years at Valero and came within one shot of forcing a playoff with Steven Bowditch during the 2014 edition.
Even though he ended the week eight shots back of Jimmy Walker, Summerhays made up ground on the field with a 3-under 69.
"I think I capitalized on a couple good wedge shots in there, made a few putts today," Summerhays said. "But this golf course, it can jump up and grab you at any moment."
Summerhays started slow with two birdies in his first 13 holes before closing with four more over his final five holes, including three straight on Nos. 14-16.
The T4 finish was his best on TOUR this season.
ODDS & ENDS
With his victory, Jimmy Walker is likely to move into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He was 13th last week...
Jimmy Walker played his first 187 events on the PGA TOUR without a win. With his Valero Texas Open victory, he has now won five time in his last 37 starts and has finished in the top 10 in 15 of those starts...
Phil Mickelson finished T30 after a final-round 4-over 76, but he'd probably like to forget about his play on holes 4-7 where he was a combined 10-over-par on that stretch during the tournament...
Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth were the only players to have posted four consecutive, sub-par rounds...
Jordan Spieth moved to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking with his second-place finish...
The par-4 fourth hole played the most difficult for the tournament with an average score of 4.388...
Below are the best images captured during the final round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.