Walker recounts brief playing history with Woods


SAN DIEGO – Fresh off a win in his most recent start at the Sony Open, Jimmy Walker learned in a text from his wife Tuesday that he'll be grouped with Tiger Woods for the first two rounds of this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

It's not the first time the two have crossed paths on the course, though the other instance proved rather brief - one hole, to be exact.

Walker was just 22 years old and still a senior at Baylor when he successfully Monday qualified for the 2001 HP Byron Nelson Championship.

"I did so using my parents' credit card," he recalled. "They told me not to do it because I had finals that week, and I did it anyways and I ended up qualifying."

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Playing a practice round at Cottonwood, Walker found himself standing on the tee of a par-3 when Woods quickly joined him, just weeks removed from winning a fourth consecutive major title.

"He's like, 'Can I play through you? I'm trying to play real fast and get a couple holes in,'" explained Walker. "I said, 'Dude, you can do whatever you want.'"

Walker went on to play the hole alongside Woods, and even managed to settle his nerves enough to stick his approach inside 6 feet, closer to the hole than the man who at that point was on top of the golfing world.

Walker would go on to miss the cut in Dallas by a shot, but credited the brief experience with Woods as a confidence boost, one that helped him to qualify for the 2001 U.S. Open as an amateur just weeks later.

"I can remember thinking, if I was that nervous and I hit that good of a shot, I said I guarantee I will never be that nervous again in my entire life, ever," added Walker. "Sure enough, I teed off in the golf tournament and I played really well."

Walker now will have plenty of time to recount that story with the current world No. 1, as he and Woods will be joined by Jordan Spieth for the first two rounds in San Diego. The trio will tee off at 10:40 a.m. PT Thursday on the South Course, followed by a 9:30 a.m. PT tee time on the North Course on Friday.