Confidence key to Walker's recent success

By Randall MellFebruary 13, 2014, 12:50 am

LOS ANGELES – Butch Harmon didn’t transform Jimmy Walker’s swing during this marvelous run of victories.

More than anything, he transformed Walker’s thinking.

He turned him into a badass.

“Butch tells Jimmy `You’re a badass!’” says Erin Walker, Jimmy’s wife. “Butch tells him `You’re the man!’ Butch tells him these things all the time.

“When you hear from the best coach who’s ever lived that you’re a badass, you have to believe it. I think that’s where this confidence is coming from.”

OK, if you know Walker, you know he isn’t a you-know-what, not in the conventional sense. Between the ropes, though, Harmon is getting Walker to believe things about himself he never believed before. His work with Harmon is the largest factor in the 35-year-old Walker suddenly emerging as a force on the PGA Tour. Harmon is a significant reason Walker will tee it up Thursday at the Northern Trust Open with a chance to win for the fourth time in this 2013-14 season.


Video: Walker discusses hot start from Riviera

Northern Trust Open: Articles, videos and photos


That’s what the confidant closest to Walker believes.

“What’s different now?” Erin says. “It’s got to be Butch Harmon. He’s the reason. Butch didn’t have to change a lot in Jimmy’s swing. He had a good foundation from his old coach. I think it’s just the confidence Jimmy's getting from having Butch Harmon want him in his stable of players, from being able to call Butch Harmon whenever he wants, to have Butch Harmon standing on the range with him. That’s really the only difference from Jimmy now and Jimmy three years ago.”

Walker says he gets a lot of blunt direction from Harmon.

“He sends me motivational texts,” Walker says. “He’s a pretty to-the-point guy. I like that about him. He says it’s all about winning.”

Walker was a talented young prospect coming out of Baylor. He won twice on the Nationwide Tour in ’04, winning the tour’s money title and Player of the Year award. He would go on to battle neck and shoulder injuries and fail to reach the promise so many saw in his swing and game.

Back in 2012, Walker sought out Harmon, asking for help. That first year, Harmon didn’t have room for Walker in his four-player stable. Harmon told Walker he would work with him at his school in Las Vegas, but he couldn’t work with Walker at tournaments.

A little less than a year watching the potential in Walker, Harmon decided to take Walker under his wing as a full-fledged stable member early in the spring of 2013. Given Harmon’s status as the No. 1 teacher in the game, it was a bit surprising to see him take on an aging, winless player.

What did Harmon see?

“I saw tremendous talent,” Harmon said. “But I wasn’t sure how good he believed he was.”

So Harmon went to work on more than Walker’s swing.

“Jimmy needed to believe in himself more than anything,” Harmon said. “We worked on his swing, but it was important to get through to him how good he really was.”

Harmon got Walker to believing that when he stepped inside the ropes, he could kick some butt.

“We’re not drinking any magic potion,” Erin said. “Jimmy’s just confident, and confidence goes a long ways. He feels validated winning. That does amazing things for your golf and confidence.”

Harmon mixes a little tough love with that back-slapping encouragement and bravado. With Walker glowing after the 2013 PGA Tour season, Harmon challenged him. Walker had just finished his best year on Tour, finishing a career-best 28th on the money list. That wasn't good enough for Harmon.

“We didn’t win,” Harmon told Walker flatly. “That’s what we want. That’s why we play golf. It’s all about winning.”

Walker went out and won his first start of the new 2013-14 season.

“You got to know when to kick a guy in the butt, you got to know when to give him a hug,” Harmon said. “You got to know when to give a guy some space, and you got to know when to make him laugh. I treat every player different. Jimmy needed to believe in himself more than anything.”

These days, Walker is radiating with belief.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry