Big Break Ireland Competitor
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Current Residence: Phoenix, Ariz.
College: Pepperdine University
Home Course: The Legacy Golf Resort, The Raven Golf Club
Profession: Golf Professional / Assistant Men’s Golf Coach, South Mountain Community College / Professional Golf Instructor
In 2005, PGA TOUR Professional Jason Gore was the Cinderella story of the U.S. Open. An unheralded rookie on the PGA TOUR, Gore shared the lead after three rounds and played in the final group on Sunday alongside Retief Goosen. While faltering on Sunday en-route to a T48, Gore’s smile never faded. He captivated the golf world with his charm and personality in the face of adversity on golf’s biggest stage.
Gore’s performance lit a fire in the belly of Andy Walker. Watching every waking moment from the comforts of his home, he could not have been prouder of his former teammate and close friend from Pepperdine University.
“Jason and I have followed a similar path in golf and life, full of ups and downs,” explained Walker. “Throughout my professional career, I have had so many stops and starts. I told myself on numerous occasions, ‘I’m done with this. I need to do something else.’ Jason’s performance rejuvenated me at a time when I was ready to quit golf. I thought to myself, if he can do it, so can I.”
It is that passion and drive that keeps Walker’s dream alive of competing full-time on the PGA TOUR.
Walker was introduced to the game at a young age by his father. He competed in his first tournament when he was five. Walker loves competition. He thrives on it. His motto is, “I don’t have a passion for golf as much as I have a passion for competitive golf.”
Heavily recruited by a number of schools, he settled on competing in junior college at Scottsdale Community College. The following summer, he met Gore while playing in the USGA Amateur Public Links and Pacific Coast Amateur events. They hit it off immediately. Walker was leaning towards transferring to San Jose State, when Gore said something to him that he will never forget.
“We are going to play on a team together somewhere. We’ll play together again.”
Gore began talking to him about Pepperdine University. Walker had no idea where Pepperdine was, but Gore sold him on the program. As fate would have it, Walker’s instructor at the time also was former roommates with Pepperdine’s head coach.
“Everything fit just perfectly,” recalled Walker. “I visited the school and fell in love with it.”
He says it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
“The experience is something I will never forget. We were national champions. I played with a great group of guys, a team of guys that will never be taken away. It was a great time and it fueled my passion to be a professional golfer.”
Walker has won tournaments all over the world in the past 12 years as a professional. But he has yet to make it to the big stage, the PGA TOUR, as he has had to overcome several obstacles – injuries, false starts and struggles to make ends meet.
“I have had a lot of success in golf,” said Walker. “But the grind definitely takes a toll on you. At the end of the year every year, after all of the expenses of traveling, I would almost literally be broke.”
In 2007, he and longtime friend, former NFL great Seth Joyner, embarked on a new venture – organizing celebrity tournaments to benefit local charities. They created the Joyner-Walker Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing life skill programs for high school and college students.
“Working with Seth on these tournaments allowed me to stay passionate about the game,” said Walker. “It also has allowed me to give back to what has meant so much to me for the past 30 years.”
But that dream of competing on the PGA TOUR has never wavered. For the past three years, he has competed on various mini tours, the Gateway Tour and the Canadian Tour. Once again, the injury bug caught up with him, to the point where he just felt he couldn’t get a break.
“I became so frustrated. It seemed like when I was starting to get on a roll, I would receive a setback. That does a lot to the psyche, and it definitely affected mine.”
But then he thinks back to his time at Pepperdine with Gore, and his remarkable run at the 2005 U.S. Open. Walker and Gore continue to keep in touch. When Gore first met Walker, he told him they would be playing together again one day, and they ended up teammates at Pepperdine. Now Walker has a new goal for the duo: To play alongside each other on the PGA TOUR.
Big Break Ireland could be that break that Walker needs.
Watch Andy's Video Bio.