Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmy Walker has won in bunches before,
but never on the PGA Tour level.
Walker played 187 PGA Tour events without earning a victory. He broke through
in start No. 188 and again in event No. 194. In a four-month span, Walker
earned a pair of victories after years of waiting.
His first full season on the PGA Tour was in 2006. He went back to the Web.com
the following year, but has been a PGA Tour member since 2008.
Before he bounced back and forth, Walker earned his stripes on the then-named
Nationwide Tour. In 2004, he won the season-opening event in Panama and less
than two months later won again in Louisiana.
Later that same year, Walker collected a pair of runner-up finishes en route
to being named the tour's Player of the Year. At the time, he was the second-
youngest winner of that award.
Walker competed in only 11 events in 2005 due to injury, then collected a
single top 25 this following year, his first full season on the PGA Tour.
He fell back to the Nationwide Tour, where he tallied six top-20 finishes,
including his third tour win in 2007. That gave him enough money to earn his
PGA Tour card again, and he hasn't looked back since.
In this new 2013-14 wrap-around season, Walker has two wins, three top-10
finishes and has finished outside the top 21 once. In his 24 rounds, 18 have
been under par, including rounds of 62, 62 and 64. The 62 and 63 both helped
lead to victory.
Off the course, Walker dabbles in astrophysics. And that kind of makes sense.
The golf swing and the universe both have many moving parts.
Walker's golf swing doesn't have many holes in it, but two years ago he put a
call into Butch Harmon for a little help.
Harmon, who has Phil Mickelson and Natalie Gulbis among his numerous clients,
didn't do much to Walker's swing, but just refined a few little things. Prior
to his current hot stretch, Walker had earned 11 top-10 finishes in the nearly
two seasons under Harmon's watch.
Walker said after winning on Sunday that Harmon also helped him with the
mental aspect of the game.
Winning usually helps players and their confidence. With two wins in four
months, confidence is not a problem for Walker.
Some think Walker's game fits well at Augusta National, but he will be a 45-
year-old first-timer at the Masters - the season's first major. He'll need more
than just soaring confidence there as first-timers have won there just twice.
Not to worry. He'll focus on new goals, like making his first Ryder Cup team.
There are 35 events between now and then.
Walker won't win them all, of course, but now that he has broken through, more
wins aren't far off.
OOSTHUIZEN STARTS STRONG, AGAIN
The European Tour plays an international schedule, but they might want to
rethink starting each new year in South Africa.
That's because Louis Oosthuizen has made a habit of winning in his home
country. For the fourth straight year, Oosthuizen won the season-opening event
in his homeland.
It was a nice turnaround for the South African, who had five missed cuts and
four withdrawals in 23 worldwide starts in 2013. A back injury plagued him
throughout the season.
"I've got three weeks now that I really need to work on my back. It's still
not 100 percent. Luckily, this week, I didn't have to hit a lot of drivers,
but once I get to Augusta, I need to hit driver," Oosthuizen said in reference
to the season's first major.
Oosthuizen didn't play 72 total holes in the four majors last year. He missed
the cut at the Masters, withdrew after one round of the U.S. Open and lasted
only eight holes at the British Open before retiring due to injury. He was
unable to start the PGA Championship.
He can be a factor in the majors when healthy. Prior to last year, he had one
top-10 finish in each of the previous three years in the majors. He won the
Open Championship in 2010, then shared ninth at the 2011 U.S. Open and lost in
a playoff at the 2012 Masters.
In that same three-year span from the 2010-12, he also had four top-10
finishes in the four World Golf Championship events.
A healthy Oosthuizen is a dangerous one, for sure.
* Adam Scott and Justin Rose are both out of action for several weeks. With
not much of an offseason, Scott is taking time off now and won't be back until
the PGA Tour heads to Florida and Rose is out for four weeks with an ailing
shoulder. If they both miss the WGC-Accenture Match Play, that would be a
big blow to that event, which has already lost its sponsor for next year and
also might be searching for a new course and a new spot on the tour's calendar
* If you can believe it, we are under 90 days away and a baker's dozen of
events from the Masters.
The Sports Network