Walker's star continues to shine
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am | Wrap | 10 Feb 2014
Jimmy Walker has held on to win his third event of the 2014 season and his second of the year with a narrow one shot lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am at Pebble Beach.
Walker’s lead during the final round extended to six through nine holes but a combination of him dropping several shots over the closing nine and the emergence of Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner playing beautifully during day four saw the gap reduced to just one, Walker being forced to par the last two win after a three putt bogey at the 17th saw him head to the 72nd hole with a one shot lead.
Walker’s amazing rise in the world ranking continues. His victory today will move him to 23rd in the ranking, perhaps a reflection on the quality player many have known him to be over a long period.
Walker first emerged on the professional scene in the early 2000’s and after wins on the Gateway and Tight Lies Tours he joined the Buy.Com then Nationwide Tours before in 2004 leading the money list on the then Nationwide Tour and advanced to the 2005 PGA Tour.
Injuries curtailed his early career at the higher level and forced to return to the secondary tour he switched back and forth before finally establishing on the PGA on what would be a full time basis in 2008.
Walker is still only 35 and appears he could develop even further as his confidence on the PGA Tour builds. He is a relatively long hitter but the big improvement for him in 2014 has been his putting where he sits 3rd on the strokes gained putting stats.
Walker held off Pebble Beach specialist Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner who after two years on the Web.Com Tour is back on the PGA Tour. Renner missed his first four cuts of season 2014 but the US$500,000 plus he will earn for his effort this week goes a long way to retaining his playing rights for another season in 2015.
Jordan Spieth recovered from a horror 3rd round of 78 to finish tied for 4th with Kevin Na.
Scott Gardiner recorded his best PGA Tour finish with a final round of 68 to tie for 13th and finish as the leading Australian. Gardiner had missed six of seven cuts this season but this will be just the boost he needs.
Steven Bowditch also had a good week when he finished 19th, Bronson La Cassie and Stuart Appleby 35th, Matt Jones 45th and Aaron Baddeley 56th.
Jason Day made the third round cut but because of reduced numbers on Sunday he along with several others did not get a chance to play.