Jimmy Walker began the final round at the Valero Texas Open with a 4-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and he finished the final round with a 4-shot victory margin. It would seem that he cruised to victory, but he didn’t. He had his ups and downs with two birdies and two bogeys on the front to make the turn at even par. Jordan Spieth almost did the same thing, bogeying the 8th to make the turn at 1-over.
The difference was that Walker birdied the 10th while Spieth bogeyed to fall two shots behind. And then his putter got hot and he birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17. But Walker was pretty much running on destiny playing in his home town on the TPC of San Antonio. Two birdies on 16 and 17 sealed the deal, a 4-shot win that looked like a walk in the park but was interesting right to the home stretch.
The golf course was in great shape. It played hard. The greens were really firm. You had to be very careful. To play this well at home in front of everybody, it’s amazing. 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. It’s like what the Spurs feel like when they win a big game at home. You’ve got that huge support. And everybody is there for you. And that’s kind of how it felt. So it was special.
The win probably moves him up into the top-10 in the World Rankings, a boost to anyone’s confidence. But the other thing that added to his confidence was that he put in a great amount of hard work and it paid off. This was no fluke; he was doing the right things:
Yeah, I feel really good. It’s a lot of confidence. I’ve been working hard. And being home the last two weeks has helped. I needed a little recharge after we played a pretty busy West Coast type of a schedule. Didn’t play much in Florida, needed the rest.
And I went and worked — did some good work the last couple of weeks playing golf at home, playing with friends, working on my swing, working on everything, and it paid off this week, which is cool.
There were other validations that came out of this terrific battle with Spieth. He pretty much knew he was going to win after his birdie on 17, but since you never really know, his first answer was that it was when he got his layup on the par-5 18th in play:
It was probably on 18, after I hit my second shot up there. Well, after 17 I felt like it was pretty much over.
Jordan, wow, he kept firing right at me. And it was actually really fun and it really showed what he was made of, what I was made of. He was grinding all the way to the end, and so did I. And to be able to answer the shots he was hitting, because he was hitting first, and then to make the putts before he could make them, because I knew he was going to make them.
When he made that really long putt on the par 5 and then he hit the good shot in the next one and another good shot and another good shot. I knew he was going to birdie coming in. It wasn’t safe. I had to keep going.
Had to keep going and remain calm and in the present.
The other nice thing about playing on your home turf is that your routine for the week is much more relaxing:
Well, I mean your routine is definitely different because you’re at home and things are just different. Yeah, we had the Titleist guys on Monday night and they came over and we had some good food. And then had friends over pretty much all week. We were home enjoying the house, and the weather was perfect and we were sitting out on the back porch watching the kids run around like monkeys. It was awesome. But, yeah, a little bit different than sitting in a hotel room.
He also assembled one of his kid’s bicycle. Don’t do that on the road either:
I assembled a bike. I put a bike together. Just being a dad. Being a dad at home. Putting the kids down and doing everything.
That may seem trivial, but it’s not. It’s an insertion into your core life where you are immersed in “normal” and not all caught up in thoughts of the tournament and your game.
And that kind of satisfying relaxation extends into how you are on the course. This was a week that he really needed that edge:
It’s a hard golf course, and 4‑shot lead can evaporate pretty fast. You had to really stay on top of what you were doing. It was hard. Everybody was making bogeys. Everybody was making birdies. So nothing really felt safe. Even with five to go, I mean, look what Jordan did. If I don’t do that it’s a lot closer than I wanted it to be. But, yeah, it was a good fight. It was fun.
And with Augusta coming up right after this week’s Shell Houston Open, the win and all that went into it and all that came out of it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Yeah, I feel good. You definitely wouldn’t want to go in not playing well. I feel good.
I like the golf course. It’s an amazing week. I had a blast last year. They did an incredible job with the golf course, the fans, the membership there, everybody just goes out of their way to make you feel like you’re at the most prestigious event there is. Yeah, I’m looking forward to going. I really like it and it’s going to be cool.