Jimmy Walker Returns to Pebble Beach With An Eye on the Majors; Giants Catcher Buster Posey Set for AT&T Pro-Am Debut
January 20, 2014
Some don’t like the PGA Tour’s wrap-around season, but it’s making a difference in at least one aspect.
According to recent Sony Open winner Jimmy Walker, the new schedule has resulted in more players starting off the season in championship form.
“There’s no offseason, so guys are now coming in ready to play,” said Walker during a teleconference held Tuesday in anticipation of this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which tees off Feb. 12-15 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. “All you can do is prepare. Whatever happens in a tournament happens.”
If anyone knows about getting hot during the winter months, it’s Walker.
With his convincing nine-stroke win at Waialea Country Club last weekend, the 36-year-old Oklahoma native made it four wins in the last 15 months, all of them coming between October and February.
In what was dubbed the Electronics Slam, Walker captured the 2013 Frys.com Open, following that up with wins at the 2014 Sony Open and 2014 AT&T Pro-Am.
Quickly becoming a king of the West Coast swing, it’s been in California that Walker has been at his best.
Prior to finishing in 63rd at the 2014 Frys, Walker had amassed mind boggling stats in the Golden State. Among them were:
- He’s made 45 percent of his career earnings in the state, despite making only 15 percent of his career starts there.
- He’s had 23 top-10 finishes in his career and 10 of them have come in California.
- He’s nearly a full shot better per round in California than outside the state.
Now he returns to Pebble Beach with a field including Ernie Els and Jason Day looking to become the first AT&T Pro-Am repeat winner since Dustin Johnson in 2009 and 2010.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work. It’s hard to win. Look at Martin Kaymer (who coughed up a 10 shot lead with 13 holes to play at the recent Abu Dhabi HSBC),” Walker said. “You just try to put yourself in position.”
Looking down the road, it appears that Walker could be positioning himself for even bigger things.
Following his red hot West Coast start last year, Walker went on to finish in the top 10 in four of 2014’s majors. He’d finish T-8 at the Masters, T-9 at the U.S. Open and T-7 at the PGA Championship. While he didn’t crack the top 10 at the British Open, he finished T-26.
Not too shabby considering that it was the first time Walker had competed in any of the majors.
Now at No.13 in the World Rankings, it could be time for Walker to literally take that next major step.
“What it’s going to take is getting in position and having a chance to win,” said Walker, whose stellar play last year resulted in a Walker Cup appearance. “I’m looking forward to the majors this year. It’s fun because it’s always different. Augusta was everything I wanted it to be.”
Posey Ready to Go: Giants catcher Buster Posey, who’s set to make his AT&T Pro-Am debut, doesn’t have to look far to get any advice on how to play Pebble Beach. After all, his world champion battery mate, Matt Cain, is slowly becoming an AT&T veteran.
It’s just that Cain may at times need to be more subtle in his advice.
“I’ve talked to him (Cain) some about playing,” Posey, who started playing golf around the age of 10 in his home state of Georgia. “He texted me the other day a picture of a beer he was having at Pebble Beach. But overall, he’s tried to give me an idea of how the courses will play.”
For Posey, it’ll be a big change in gears. During the six months of baseball season, he doesn’t play much golf at all, if any. When he got the call to play in the AT&T Pro-Am, however, it was a no-brainer.
“When I got the invite I didn’t put much thought into it at all,” Posey said. “The Giants had notified me about the possibility.”
As for further AT&T Pro-Am preparations, Posey said he’d rely on his baseball instincts.
“Both baseball and golf, the mental side is tough,” said Posey, who’ll also compete in Tuesday’s annual Chevron Shoot-Out, which pits past and present members of the Giants against past and present members of the 49ers. “I learn by watching. That’s how I learned to play baseball. I try to emulate others.”
Regardless of how much he gets his swing together, Posey will be in for a shock. He’s never seen Pebble Beach.