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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Fleetwood fires 63, waits to see if score is enough

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 8:52 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Tommy Fleetwood became the sixth player to shoot 63 at the U.S. Open, and just the second to do it in the final round. Now he waits.

Fleetwood teed off almost 2 ½ hours before – and six strokes behind – the leaders at Shinnecock Hills on Sunday, but stormed into the hunt thanks to four consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole. The Englishman’s round was even more impressive considering he didn’t birdie either of the layout’s par 5s.

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Fleetwood finished at 2 over par – after missing a 9-foot putt for birdie and 62 at the 18th – which was tied for second place and one stroke off the lead held by Brooks Koepka when he completed his round.

After speaking with the media, Fleetwood went to the locker room to await a possible playoff, which was changed this year from an 18-hole overtime to just two holes of aggregate play.

“We'll go and relax a little bit and just see,” said Fleetwood, who rolled in 159 feet of birdies putts. “Only time will tell what's going to happen today at the course. If it was like yesterday, I'd feel a little more comfortable than now.”

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Fowler follows 84 with 65, praises Shinnecock setup

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2018, 5:44 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – As promised, the USGA dialed back Shinnecock Hills for Sunday’s final round, watering the greens overnight and deferring to more user-friendly hole locations.

The evidence of this was on the leaderboard, with four early finishers having shot under-par rounds, including Rickie Fowler, who closed with a round-of-the-week 65. There were just three under-par cards on Saturday.

“That's the golf course I enjoy playing. Obviously, pin placements were a lot safer,” said Fowler, who had just one bogey on Sunday and opened his day with a 4-under 31 on his opening nine. “The pins today will definitely allow for the greens to firm up and get fast, and we'll see how much they dry out. It was definitely more receptive this morning than yesterday, that's for sure.”

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It was a 19-stroke turnaround for Fowler, who ballooned to a third-round 84 on Day 3 during what most contend were the week’s toughest conditions. Fowler had put himself into contention going into the weekend thanks to a second-round 69, but struggled on Saturday afternoon like much of the field.

Fowler said the setup was vastly different to what players faced on Saturday and that even if the winds increase for the afternoon tee times the course will remain playable, unlike Round 3 when many players said the USGA “lost” the golf course.

“They did a good job of staying safe,” Fowler said, “because if it does dry out, it will still be very playable.”

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Phil celebrates par on 13, ducks media after round

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 5:35 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson didn’t have another meltdown at the U.S. Open.

Back on the 13th green Sunday – less than 24 hours after taking a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball and recording a sextuple-bogey 10 – Mickelson poured in a 10-footer and raised his arms in mock triumph, as if he’d finally won that elusive major title.

Not quite.

He’d simply made par.

“It looked like he won the Masters,” said playing partner Rickie Fowler. “He didn’t jump, but he had a little celebration there.”

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The par save and the final-round 69 were one of the lone bright spots during what was an adventurous week for Lefty, even by his unpredictable standards. Mickelson’s shocking swat was still the talk of this Open, especially after USGA executive director Mike Davis revealed Saturday night that Mickelson had called him to ask for more clarification on the rule he said that he knew he’d broken.

Despite some calls for him to withdraw from the tournament, Mickelson displayed his usual cheerful demeanor inside the ropes with Fowler.

“He joked about it right as we went down the first hole,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that he didn’t know “if I would have had the wits like Phil to run after it” on 13, but added that it never should have come to that in the first place.

“He could have saved himself a shot by just letting it go and taking unplayable, but then that would still look pretty funny too,” he said. “The course shouldn’t play that way.”

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

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USGA slows greens, alters hole locations for Sunday

By Ryan LavnerJune 17, 2018, 3:29 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – After admitting that it went too far with the setup Saturday at the U.S. Open, USGA officials made some modifications for the final round.

In a statement released Sunday morning, the USGA said that it watered Shinnecock Hills’ greens an “appropriate level” and slowed down the surfaces nearly a foot on the Stimpmeter.

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That was in anticipation of a sunny, dry forecast that calls for temperatures to reach 80 degrees and wind gusts up to 20 mph.

They said the setup for the final day is similar to what was used in Round 1, when officials braced for 30-mph winds.

Some of the hole locations were also adjusted based on the forecast – changes, the USGA said, that were meant to “maintain a challenge yet fair U.S. Open test.”