Stat Attack!: How and why Walker is winning

By John AntoniniFebruary 10, 2014, 2:46 am

Wikipedia lists 20 athletes named Jimmy Walker in its rolls, including a South African Olympic cyclist, an NBA all-star from Providence College and several soccer players from Great Britain. But the only golfer on that list has fast become the most prominent Jimmy Walker of all. And if you’ll excuse the cliché, he’s having a dynamite season, one that would make the comedic actor, the former mayor of New York and every other Jimmy Walker proud.

How rarefied is the air that Jimmy Walker is breathing right now? With his third win of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, Walker became the fifth player since 1970 to win in three of the first 12 weeks of the PGA Tour season, and he’s the first player not named Tiger Woods to claim that feat since David Duval in 1999.

Players with three wins in the first 12 weeks of the PGA Tour season

 Player Year Third win Week number
 Jimmy Walker 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach 12
 Tiger Woods 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational 12
 Tiger Woods 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational 11
 Tiger Woods 2003 Arnold Palmer Invitational 11
 Tiger Woods 2000 Arnold Palmer Invitational 12
 David Duval 1999 Players Championship 12
 Hubert Green 1976 Heritage 12
 Johnny Miller 1975 Bob Hope Classic 5
 Johnny Miller 1974 Tucson Open 3

With a much-closer-than-it-should-have-been one-stroke win over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner on the Monterey Peninsula, Walker also holds another unique distinction. His final-round 74 Sunday at Pebble Beach was not only the highest final round by a winner in almost two years, but paired with his winning 63 on Sunday at the Sony Open at Waialae CC, it gives him the best and worst last rounds by a winner in 2013-14. When he won the Sony Open a month ago, Walker came from two strokes off the lead. At Pebble, he began Sunday with a six-stroke advantage. That he struggled with such a large lead wasn’t unexpected. Of the last eight players to hold an edge of six strokes or more through 54 holes at a PGA Tour event, only three won by as many as four strokes. Spencer Levin at the 2012 Phoenix Open was the only one to lose his lead, but none of the others won by more than two strokes.

Highest final rounds by a winner since 2008

 Player Score Tournament
 Martin Laird 75 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational
 Trevor Immelman 75 2008 Masters
 Jimmy Walker 74 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
 Dustin Johnson 74 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

SIx-stroke leads through 54 holes on the PGA Tour since 2010

 Tournament Player Lead Result
 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach Jimmy Walker 6 Won by 1
 2014 Humana Challenge Patrick Reed 6 Won by 2
 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Tiger Woods 7 Won by 7
 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Phil Mickelson 6 Won by 4
 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Spencer Levin 6 Third, lost by 2 to Kyle Stanley
 2011 U.S. Open Rory McIlroy 8 Won by 8
 2010 Northern Trust Open Steve Stricker 6 Won by 2
 2010 John Deere Classic Steve Stricker 6 Won by 2

Walker’s season has been remarkable. He leads the FedEx Cup race by 757 points. His total of 1,733 points would have placed him fifth in the season-ending standings a year ago.  His $3,605,833 would have been 13th on the final money list in 2013. 

Jimmy Walker’s results in 2013-14

 Tournament Place Scores To Par Money World Rank
 Frys.com Open Won 70-69-62-66—267 -17 $900,000 45
 Shriners Hospitals T12 71-68-64-67—270 -14 126,000 43
 CIMB Classic 6 74-68-67-68—277 -11 252,000 40
 WGC-HSBC Champions T46 73-73-69-70—285 -3 52,500 42
 Hyundai T of C T21 73-73-67-72—285 -7 79,333 47
 Sony Open  Won  66-67-67-63—263  -17 1,008,000 32
 Farmers Insurance Open MC 74-71—145 +1   32
 AT&T Pebble Beach Won 66-69-67-74—276 -11 1,188,000 24

Walker has improved his greens hit in regulation, his strokes gained putting and his birdie conversion percentage considerably this season. Never one of the more accurate players off the tee, Walker is hitting more than 71 percent of his greens this year, an improvement over his 66 percent mark a year ago, but he has made his biggest gains on the green. He’s averaging more than a shot better in the strokes gained/putting category and has improved his birdie conversion rate from 31 percent to 37 percent.

Jimmy Walker's statistics since 2010

 Year Driving accuracy percentage Greens in regulation percentage Strokes gained/putting Birdie conversion percentage
 2014 50.35% 71.30% +1.330 37.76%
 2013 52.18 66.07 +0.272 31.39
 2012 52.74 64.30 +0.461 31.05
 2011 53.13 65.92 +0.232 29.03
 2010 51.29 65.88 +0.252 29.22

A closer look at Walker’s putting stats shows where the improvement is coming from. Always a fine putter from less than 10 feet (he led the Tour in putting from 4-8 feet in 2012), he’s shown a major increase in percentage of putts made from 10-15 feet and 20-25 feet this year. In fact, he’s 12th on tour from 10-15 feet this year, up from 81st a year ago and 176th in 2012. He’s 23rd in putting from 20-25 feet, up from 101st a year ago.

Jimmy Walker’s putting percentages from various distances

 Year 4-8 feet Less than 10 feet 10-15 feet 15-20 feet 20-25 feet
 2014 75.36% 89.22% 40.82% 21.21% 18.52%
 2013 68.77 81.17 30.28 19.31 10.89
 2012 76.50 89.35 25.11 21.94 13.38
 2011 70.39 87.10 31.58 20.16 12.30
 2010 66.16 87.43 35.51 16.53 10.62

Walker has taken advantage of the first wrap-around season in PGA Tour history like no one could have imagined. After making 187 starts without a victory, he's won three times in his last eight. It will get tougher as the season progresses, as the top international players rejoin the PGA Tour in the run-up to the Masters. And Walker will be right there with them, having qualified for the WGC-Accenture Match Play, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Masters for the first time. We'll see if he can get win No. 4. 


 

 

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”