In the 2013 PGA Tour season, Tiger Woods dominated the regular season. His five wins earned him 3,059 FedEx Cup points, and were it not for his loss to Henrik Stenson at the TOUR Championship, he could very easily have taken his third season title.
Jimmy Walker missed four cuts in his final six tournaments last season, eliminated from the playoffs after the BMW Championship. However, he tied for 11th in that event, leaving the year on a high note.
Thanks to the new wraparound schedule, Walker didn’t have much time to wait before starting fresh, and he made the most of it, winning the Frys.com Open, his first career victory. Apparently he liked that winning feeling, because he’s done it twice more since then, taking this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and leaving the rest of the players on Tour eating his dust.
Sure, he didn’t make it look easy. He nearly blew a six-shot lead that he carried into the final round, but his two-over round of 74 was good for a one-stroke win over Dustin Johnson and Web.com Tour graduate Jim Renner.
Now with $3.6 million in earnings and 1,733 FedEx Cup points (which would have placed him fifth for all of last year), Walker is in the driver’s seat not only for a Ryder Cup spot, but also with a clear path through the playoffs. Who’d have thought we’d be saying that in February?
Granted, there’s a lot of golf to be played between now and September. Woods has only played once on Tour, as has a seemingly rejuvenated Rory McIlroy. Guys like Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, and Matt Kuchar aren’t going anywhere either. But this is precisely the type of start the Tour officials had to be hoping for with the wraparound schedule. Walker is becoming a bona fide star.
It’s not like Walker is winning by some fluke, either. Despite his rocky finish at Pebble Beach, he ranks in the top four on Tour in both par-4 and par-5 scoring, and is third in strokes gained putting. He’s not always the most accurate off the tee, but he’s deadly on the greens, and that translates to any course.
Common sense says it’s too early to crown Walker the champion of 2014, but after three wins, it’s obvious that he’s in the type of groove most guys would be lucky to see just once in a lifetime. What we’re seeing is years of near-misses all being broken through at once, and we can only hope that he doesn’t stop anytime soon.