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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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.