By Jay Betsill
Jimmy Walker became the first two-time winner this season on the PGA Tour, topping Jordan Spieth by four strokes to win the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Walker also won the Sony Open in Hawaii by nine shots in January and currently leads the season-long race for the FedEx Cup by nearly 500 points over Spieth.
”Everybody says it’s hard to win at home,” Walker said, ”it’s hard to win any week – home, away, out of the country, it’s hard. So I feel good.”
Spieth, who began the day four shots behind Walker, struggled on the front nine with errant tee shots and having to scramble to make par on several occasions. In spite of getting hot on the back nine, including a stretch of four consecutive birdies, the recent winner of the Valspar Championship was no match for the local resident’s consistent play.
“You’re never out of it in this game, but Jimmy shut that down pretty quickly with his made putts,” said Spieth, whose solo second place finish catapulted him to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Ten players finished the tournament under par, with the TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course playing the toughest on the PGA Tour this season with a 74.581 stroke average.
Notables in the field included Billy Horschel (3, -4), Chesson Hadley (T4, -3), Dustin Johnson (T6, -2), Ryan Palmer (T6, -2), Matt Kuchar (T15, +1), Zach Johnson (T20, +2), Phil Mickelson (T30, +4) and Davis Love III (T44, +7).
Next up on the PGA Tour is the Shell Houston Open. Big names scheduled to play at the Golf Club of Houston include Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley, Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson.
— For the first time since 1996, Tiger Woods is not even in the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Woods fell another eight spots to No. 104, the lowest since Sept. 28, 1996, the week before his first PGA Tour win in a playoff over Davis Love III at the Las Vegas Invitational.
— The deadline for committing to the Shell Houston Open came and went on Friday and Tiger Woods opted not to play in the event. He has never played the Houston tournament, but some had thought he might add the tournament as preparation for the Masters. Woods has been on an indefinite leave since he withdrew after just 11 holes due to stiffness in his lower back from the Farmers Insurance Open in February.
— Steve Sticker is planning a return to the Masters next week for his first competitive golf since surgery to repair bulging disk in his lower back four months ago. The 48-year-old Stricker last played Dec. 7 at the Hero World Challenge.