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Walker living hometown player’s dream at Texas Open

It was a good day for a hometown player. Jimmy Walker posted 5-under 67 on Friday for the lead at the halfway point of the Valero Texas Open.

After a 35-minute drive from his suburban home, Walker enjoyed an easy stroll at TPC San Antonio to reach 6-under 138. He won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January after winning three times last season.

Walker jumped to the lead with a hot putter. Combining his three birdies from his 15th, 16th and 17th holes, Walker made almost 40 feet worth of putts.

“It’s nice to have friends and family here,” Walker said. “Good vibes and good mojo, and I believe in all that stuff. Positive energy is good.”

Scoring conditions were not nearly as brutal in the second round, and rounds were better across the board. Walker, for one, took advantage of that. He made birdies at Nos. 6, 7 and 8 (Walker started at No. 10) to secure his lead on Charley Hoffman.

Hoffman, uncharacteristically, let a good round get away late in the round. As Walker was making a birdie run, Hoffman made three consecutive bogeys. His second-round 72 dropped him to a tie for second with Aaron Baddeley, who had 71.

“I’ll keep drawing on my experience here, and I think you can get this golf course,” said Hoffman, who led by two entering the day.

The improved conditions meant a packed leaderboard. Nine players are within four strokes of Walker. That includes Phil Mickelson, continuing to cram for the Masters less than two weeks off, at 2 under after a second-round 72. He was tied for sixth.

“It was a good first two days,” said Mickelson, who has a best finish this season of 17th at the Honda Classic. “I putted well and hit some good iron shots, but I’ll have to work on the driving tomorrow. I played Augusta a few days before I came here and I was driving it great. I haven’t hit it the way I felt I have been hitting it.”

FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel (70), Zach Johnson (71), Chris Kirk (71) and 2011 winner Brendan Steele (68) also were 2 under.

Johnson felt a jarring sensation in his right ring finger when he hit a rock while swinging from the native area to the right of the 12th fairway. He continued and expects to play this weekend.

Francisco Molinari, the former European Ryder Cup player, withdrew before the round because of a wrist injury he said happened while shooting 81 in the wind Thursday.

Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson managed to survive for the weekend as well, but it was a close call. The cut dropped a stroke in the afternoon to 6 over and both made it on the number.

Furyk made late birdies to push his streak of consecutive cuts made to 33. Steve Stricker, not playing this week, has the best active streak at 35.

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