SAN DIEGO — Jimmy Walker is playing the opening two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open with Tiger Woods.
That will be 35 more holes than the first time they played together.
Walker was a senior at Baylor when he went through Monday qualifying for the Byron Nelson Championship. He got in the field and ran up to Dallas for a practice round at Cottonwood Valley using a local caddie.
“All of a sudden, Tiger is over on the front nine and my guys is like, ‘Hey, there’s Tiger over there,’” Walker said.
This was 2001. It was Woods’ first tournament since he won the Masters Tournament for his fourth consecutive major.
“So he pretty much was owning everybody,” Walker said.
“He’s like, ‘Can I play through you? I’m trying to play real fast and get a couple of holes in?’ I said, ‘Dude, you can do whatever you want,’”
So this was the one hole they played together, and it was memorable for Walker for one reason.
“I am literally shaking,” he said. “I have every bad-swing thought possible – don’t shank it, top it, all that stuff. I make contact. I look up and it’s heading right at it. ... We walked down there and he asked what’s going on, I told him I Monday qualified. We talked and it was really cool and he was really nice. We get down there and his ball is about 15 feet away and mine’s about 6 feet away.”
Woods picked up his ball and was on his way. But there was a lesson for Walker.
“I can remember thinking, ‘Man, if I was that nervous and I hit that good of a shot, I guarantee I will never be that nervous again my entire life – ever,’” Walker said.
MALNATI AND MLB: As a PGA Tour rookie, Peter Malnati is taking a close look at the schedule. The Major League Baseball schedule.
Malnati is part of a recent crop of players who have deals with MLB.com. He gets two tickets to any game all year.
“I’m going to catch a lot of Kansas City Royals games,” said Malnati.
“That’s exactly why I’m a fan,” said Malnati, who played golf at Missouri. “It’s a great ballpark. This team needs fans and no one is here. So I’m a die-hard Kansas City fan.”
HIGH-TECH ANALYSIS: Ben Hogan looked for answers in the dirt. Patrick Reed turns to cyberspace.
The former Augusta State star uses ShotsToHole.com to help identify weaknesses and ways to save strokes.
“It tells you really what you need to work on and what will help you save the most shots,” Reed said. “You enter your stats and it kind of takes it to the next level. ... It gets very detailed.”
DIVOTS: Zach Johnson is taking a four-week break before the Match Play Championship. “I know it’s a necessity, I know it’s good for me, it’s good for my family, but I’m also hesitant because I’m playing well,” Johnson said. ... The Senior British Open will be played at Sunningdale in 2015 and Carnoustie the following year. ... Maj. Dan Rooney, founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation and Patriot Golf Day, and majority owner of The Patriot Golf Club in Tulsa, Okla., has been selected by the American Society of Golf Course Architects as the 2014 Donald Ross Award recipient. ... Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand has received an exemption into the Phoenix Open next week.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods is the only FedEx Cup champion whose season earnings were more than the $10 million bonus. He won the money title with $10.5 million in 2009 and with $10.8 million in 2007.
FINAL WORD: “I don’t like not playing in big tournaments.” – Jimmy Walker, on going 11 years without qualifying for the U.S. Open.