By Jay Betsill
Jimmy Walker kicked off the new wraparound season with his first win on the PGA TOUR in his eighth year and 188th tournament at the Frys.com Open. After beginning the day with a six shot lead, Walker two-putted from 25 feet for par on No. 18 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for what would be his third victory in his last eight starts. Walker, who also won the Sony Open in Hawaii, has joined elite company as in the last 20 years on the PGA Tour, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval can match that win total at this point in the season.
“I don’t know if it was just a matter of doing it once and then having it happen again and then happen again,” Walker said. “I’ve always felt like I could win out here, and I think that’s what you have to believe to be out here — that you belong and that you can win. And finally, it happened. And it’s cool that it’s happened a couple more times. Quickly.”
Walker finished 11-under and earned $1.188 million, expanding his lead in the Ryder Cup standings — based on PGA TOUR earnings — to more than $1 million over Phil Mickelson in second place. Jim Renner and John Harkey Jr., the CEO of Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc. and a member at Dallas National Golf Club, won the pro-am portion of the tournament.
Other notables in the field included two-time Pebble Beach champion Dustin Johnson (T2, -10), Dallas native Jordan Spieth (T4, -8), Graeme McDowell, who returned to Pebble Beach for the first time since his 2010 U.S Open victory, (T7, -6), Humana Challenge winner Patrick Reed (T13, -4), four-time Pebble Beach champion Phil Mickleson (T19, -3) and David Duval (T35, E).
The next stop on the PGA TOUR is the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, CA for the Northern Trust Open. Notables in the field include Jimmy Walker, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Farmers Insurance Open winner Scott Stallings, Waste Management Phoenix Open winner Kevin Stadler, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Fred Couples. Couples has made 31 appearances at Riviera, missing the cut just three times with victories in 1990 and 1992 among his 14 top-10 finishes.
— Following his T41, -6 appearance in the Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger Woods made a stop at the Delhi Golf Club in India for a charity skins game. According to Golfingindian.com, Woods made 10 birdies but failed to win a skin. India newspapers reported Woods received about $2 million for the appearance for the event which was closed to the public.
— Cheyenne Woods, the 23-year old niece of Tiger Woods, won the Australian Ladies Masters on Sunday for her first major professional tour victory. The win earned her $51,000 in prize money and a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour events.
“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” she said. “The European Tour has been great to be able to play this past year…I’ve been pro for two years, and for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting,” she said. “It’s nice now to say to people that I can play and I’m not just a name.”
— Michael Allen with a Champions Tour record-tying 60 on Friday at the Allianz Championship. On Sunday, after a two-putt birdie on the second hole of a playoff, he beat Duffy Waldorf to win his sixth Champions Tour title and the $240,000 first place check.
“You shoot 60, you think you’re going to win a little easier,” said Allen. “I thought I should have won in regulation, but it always feels good to win out here.”
— The Honda Classic, set for Feb 27-March 2, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL received commitments from Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy to give the event a field that now includes the top 8 players in the official golf rankings. This is the third consecutive year that Woods has played the event, which is takes place just 20 minutes from his Jupiter Island home.
— The Volvo World Match Play Championship is set to return to England for its 50th anniversary this year. The event that features a 16-man field with prize money of (euro) 2.25 million ($3 million) will take place Oct. 15-19 at the London Golf Club.