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Walker to Tee it up this Week in Valero Texas Open
With the Masters only two tournaments away, many players will be treating this week's Valero Texas Open and next week's Shell Houston Open as a tune-up for the first major of the year.
Among those who'll be at the TPC San Antonio on Thursday is Jimmy Walker, the season's only three-time winner. The 35-year-old will be making his 12th start of the year in his hometown, and his ninth appearance in the Valero Texas Open.
Thanks to those three victories - in the season opener, the Frys.com Open in October followed by the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, Walker has risen to 27th in the world golf ranking, leads the FedEx Cup race, and is atop the earnings list with $3,861,680, over $500,000 ahead of Dustin Johnson.
Walker played college golf at Baylor and went winless from 2006 until notching his maiden victory in the Frys.com Open. He's also entered in the Houston Open in advance of his very first Masters.
On Tuesday, Walker met with reporters to discuss his breakthrough season as well as his preparations for Augusta National.
MODERATOR: Okay. Like to welcome Jimmy Walker, three-time winner this year and currently leading the FedEx Cup Race. Jimmy, maybe just get us started talking about how special it is to come back here. This will be the ninth time you've played in the Valero Texas Open. Basically a home game for you.
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah. I didn't realize it was nine. Maybe the 9ninth time is the charm. It's nice to be at home and play at home with friends and family and this golf course is in amazing shape. I've been playing it the last couple weeks as we moved into a new house. It's really come along and it's in great shape. I think everybody will find that it's going to be a fun week.
MODERATOR: How is the game coming in here right now?
JIMMY WALKER: I think it's good. I've been lifting a lot of boxes and working out and doing lifts and stuff with boxes so I managed quite a bit of golf in the meantime in between there. So, I was bummed to miss last week but just with the moving in and the family stuff, trying to get everybody settled, it was nice to be home. But game feels good. I had a good week of practice last week and got some good rounds on the weekend.
Q. I just wanted to ask you a question about the course again. Does it look like it's playing pretty similar to last year and also maybe getting some rain tomorrow, will that soften it up a little bit?
JIMMY WALKER: The rain would soften it up. The greens seem to be pretty firm and the ball lands on the green, it's kind hard to find a pitch mark. Makes it fun to me. So, it would be nice to see it playing firm and fast and I think it will be a lot of fun but the greens are rolling really nice. I would think better than last year, maybe quicker than last year. I think you guys will find it's in really good shape.
Q. You mentioned moving in Cordillera Ranch. Have you played the course much out there?
JIMMY WALKER: I have. I play out there quite a bit.
Q. What do you think of that course?
JIMMY WALKER: Cordillera? It's great. Bentgrass greens are always running really fast. Zoysia fairways which everybody likes to hit off of. Got a nice mix of Bermuda rough to give it a lot more character than just a zoysia golf course if you did rough, too. It's a challenging golf course. It's pretty long. It's got some really fast, good greens, tough to make putts and just really enjoyed living out there.
Q. Jimmy, it was mentioned that your ninth time playing in this event. Given your recent success, is there a different feel for you leading into this one?
JIMMY WALKER: Definitely want to play well. I definitely want to play well. It's nice to be home and play in front of friends and family and it doesn't happen a whole lot out here. We do have guys that play in home towns and stuff and does add a little bit more, I think, but to be able the play well here and have a chance would be a lot of fun. I would love to have the chance to.
Q. Jimmy, can you remember a time where the greens weren't showing divots out here?
JIMMY WALKER: It's tougher around this time year because it is kind of a wet time of year, especially here with the cold fronts and stuff, but I think they've done a really good job of getting the golf course in shape and even last week when we played a couple times they were still very firm and the ball was bouncing when it hit the greens. It was bouncing. But they were still spinning. If you hit really good shots in the ball would check right up, but good first bounce you got to play for.
Q. So overall have you seen this place play as firm and fast as possibly it could?
JIMMY WALKER: I don't think so. I think maybe the first year we played here it was pretty firm. That was just with it being a new golf course, too, but I remember being in good condition. But I think it's playing - feels like it's playing pretty fast. We got some rain yesterday and maybe some tomorrow but it - I think it's going to warm up and south wind will start blowing again.
Q. A course like this, does it make it even more scary with firm and fast conditions or would you rather have some hold?
JIMMY WALKER: Firm and fast is always fun. It doesn't just allow everybody to just fire at the flags and throw darts and - so it will put a premium on hitting the ball in the fairway, too, because there is some rough and you definitely want to be able to control the ball, especially if the greens are bouncing.
Q. Them adding Phil Mickelson to the field this year and Rory being part of it last year, have you followed this event the last couple of years kind of closely enough to have a gauge on how it's grown the field in terms of the names and just the interest around here?
JIMMY WALKER: Well, I think it's good that it's cool that Phil is playing and I know he hasn't played here in quite a long time so it will be fun for everybody around here to go out and watch him play. It's tough as a golfer. It's hard to play every week. It's a full week of being at a place. It's a Tuesday through Sunday job and it's not - I don't think it's like NASCAR where those guys show up on Friday and race Sunday and get out of there and go home for three days and head back. I think that's how that kind works. We commit to a week, it's a full week and it's tough to play every week and I know that guys try to get to every tournament, you know, here and there, but I think it's great that - I think it's a pretty good field this year. Pulling a strong field.
Q. Your three wins, how were the conditions of the golf course? Were they favorable and were they similar to what you're seeing right now from the golf course today meaning firm, fast fairways, soft greens, perhaps hard greens, that type thing?
JIMMY WALKER: You know, one of - two of my wins were in California. Different weather for both? Pebble Beach is very, very soft and cold and wet. The Frys in October was decently warm. It kind of played fast there. Then playing in Hawaii, it's a completely different place. You got to strike when you're playing well and hitting it good and it can come anywhere. I do feel comfortable on certain places that I play and so you just see guys win kind of all over the place, I think, but the golf course is in great shape. There should be no complaints about it, I don't think.
Q. Jimmy, when you have time off, and I know that you had some things to take care of with your time off this last time, but typically what is your interaction with Butch when you have some time off and did you have any sort of video sent to him, e-mailed to him during this time off?
JIMMY WALKER: We do do that. He's a pretty busy guy and we are, too, and it's hard to get everybody's schedules lined up sometimes and but that's the magic of technology now being able to send a video right then and there and get instant feedback and can draw on the video and send it back to you. It's pretty cool. It's very easy - he's very good at what he does and he can usually find something - he does find things when you send him. If you're struggling he can do a really good job of pointing you in the right direction.
Q. The Masters is getting closer. Have you been able - have you ever played there, what are your plans as far as getting in some practice rounds before?
What's your overall thought of preparation now that this is your first time to go?
JIMMY WALKER: I was there last weekend. My wife let me bug out of town during the move and go play a couple days. I was there last weekend and they were getting the golf course in shape. They were having their big member/member that week and really getting the golf course tuned up for them and - but when I was there, it was very cold and wet. The golf course played very long. So, it wasn't - I don't think it will be kind of what the tournament is going to play like. I'm not real sure. You never know what the weather is going to do, obviously. But I would have liked to have seen it play a little firmer and faster. Every time I've played there it's been kind of slow. They've got it looking good for sure.
Q. You say every time you've played there, about how many times have you played?
JIMMY WALKER: I think I've gotten about six to eight rounds in there now.
Q. How did you arrange your previous rounds? Obviously you've got an in now but how did you arrange your previous rounds?
JIMMY WALKER: Just with a member, member that I've known and they were nice enough to take us out. We were there in December this year, too, and we got some rounds in in December. So, that's kind of how it worked.
Q. Jimmy, are you a San Antonio Spurs fan?
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah.
Q. So do they look like the team to beat again?
JIMMY WALKER: I watched them whoop up on the Heat when I was down in Doral a couple weeks ago. I was down there by myself so the TV wasn't overrun by my three-and-a-half-year-old. They put a whooping on the Heat at home in San Antonio. They looked good. They're fun to watch. I think it really shows you how good of a team they are. Everybody knows what they need to do and they've got a part to play and they all play it really well. Got a deep bench. They're tough. They're playing really good.
Q. Are you going tomorrow night to watch them play?
JIMMY WALKER: I am not going tomorrow night, no.
Q. In Augusta, were you able to watch Baylor?
JIMMY WALKER: I watched them play Creighton and that was entertaining for a Baylor fan, not so much for a Creighton fan.
MODERATOR: Anymore questions? All set? Okay. Thanks Jimmy.
JIMMY WALKER: Thanks y'all.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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