Glamorous life? Not for Walker, not this week

By Randall MellFebruary 15, 2014, 1:19 am

LOS ANGELES – So what’s life like when you’re the hottest player on the planet?

Jimmy Walker will tell you it’s terrific even if he isn’t exactly basking in the regal life you might expect here in the shadow of Tinseltown.

No, Walker isn’t spoiling himself at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, just up the road from Riviera Country Club, while playing the Northern Trust Open.

In fact, his humble abode this week doesn’t have enough water to allow him to take hot showers in the mornings.

He doesn’t even have the basic convenience of a sewer hookup.

The most dominant force on the PGA Tour this season is stumbling out of his 43-foot Tiffin motor home in the mornings and hiking down a hill to take his showers in a public restroom. The man who has already won $3.6 million in earnings this season is shaving beside strangers.

“Feels like we’re in college again,” says his wife, Erin.

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And that’s just fine with Jimmy Walker, who is enjoying the sanctuary their somewhat “Spartan” life provides at an RV campground that couldn’t exactly accommodate all their needs this week.

After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Walker gathered Erin and their two young children and packed them into their motor home for the long drive south to Los Angeles. When they finally arrived at their appointed campground 25 minutes from Riviera, there was a mix-up with their reservation. They were stuck with a site that didn’t have the hookups that make their traveling abode its usual luxury vessel.

With the craziness Walker’s swift emergence as a golfing force has brought into their lives, even this week’s inconveniences haven’t been able to spoil the sanctuary that keeps Walker grounded.

Though disappointed with his even-par 71 Friday at Riviera, Walker gave himself a chance this weekend to win for the fourth time this wraparound season, for the third time in his last four starts. He’s just five shots behind Sang-Moon Bae.

“Today was one of those days. I just wasn't hitting it, didn't have great control over the things that were going on,” Walker said. “But, yeah, I’m definitely happy to be in a decent spot going into the weekend."

Whether a day ends with some frustration, like Friday did, or with exhilaration, like Sunday’s win at Pebble Beach did, Walker knows he’ll find what he needs in his mobile home-away-from-home.

“We love it,” Erin said. “You have to be a little adventurous, but it works great. It’s just like living in a house. We have a refrigerator, a washer and a dryer.”

Jimmy and Erin have two boys, Mclain, who is 3½, and Beckett, who will turn 1 next week. Jimmy drives the motor home, which they use most of the time they are on the road together. When needed, for long trips between venues, the family will fly together with somebody driving the motor home to the new tournament site.

“With two little kids, it’s great,” Erin said. “I’m not the kind of person who can pack and unpack every single week. It just stresses me out. More than that, this keeps things normal for all of us. Jimmy has the same bed, the same pillow. We can cook when we want to cook. The boys can run around outside, which they like to do. We have crazy boys. They like to play outside with their trucks and get dirty.

“It’s definitely not for everybody. If you like room service every day, it’s not for you, but it works well for us.”

Though the boys are young, Mclain is starting to understand that his daddy’s becoming a big deal. He’s seeing the craziness his father is creating. He likes running out on the green to hug his father after wins.

“At the beginning of the week at Pebble, Mclain’s like, `I want to run out on the green and give Daddy a hug again. Daddy’s going to win,’" Erin said. “I’m like, `It’s kind of a long shot, Mclain,’ but he kind of gets what’s going on.”

The boys keep Jimmy grounded, too. After he won at Pebble Beach, Jimmy called a close friend in Carmel, who owns a restaurant there. He asked if they were still open. “We are for you,” his friend told him.

That’s where the family celebrated, but it made for a long day.

“By the time we got back [to the motor home], the boys were in full-on meltdown mode,” Erin said. “Jimmy was like, `Well, back to reality.’”

That’s how the hottest player on the planet rolls these days. He keeps it real.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x