Notes: Walker's moving days; Johnson's 80; more
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
In his previous eight trips to the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, Jimmy Walker was the hometown guy. This time, well, he’s still the hometown guy, only now he’s also a three-time PGA Tour winner.
And for one example of how life has changed since he was last in this tournament, how winning three times can alter things, consider what Walker has been doing to keep in shape of late. “Been lifting a lot of boxes and working out and doing lifts and stuff with boxes,” he said.
There was a smile on his face, because the great success and added financial security has coincided with Walker and his family moving into a new house they've had in mind for years. Great move for them, but there was one negative to it.
“I was bummed to miss last week (the Arnold Palmer Invitational),” he said. “But just with the moving in and the family stuff, trying to get everybody settled, it was nice to be home.”
The home cooking will continue, which is a comfortable feeling for Walker, though it puts a little more pressure into the mix.
“I definitely want to play well,” he said. “I would love to have the chance to do that.”
[Note: The timing of Walker's wins and the family's move has been clarified from an earlier version of this story.]
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WE’LL TRY IT AGAIN: Zach Johnson has returned to the Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2010 when he opened with an 80 and missed the cut.
He knows the initial reaction is that he had won at 6,800-yard La Cantera in 2008 and 2009 and was far from enamored with TPC San Antonio, which is stretched to more than 7,400 yards. But Johnson points out that he came back with a 68 in his second round in 2010 and his absence in 2011-12-13 had more to do with scheduling than a dislike of TPC San Antonio.
“Was La Cantera a phenomenal golf course? No. But it was good for me. This TPC is certainly more of a challenge,” he said. “It’s probably a better golf course tee to green and around the greens (than La Cantera).”
But give Johnson credit; he’s willing to give the tournament and the course a second look and he’s one of four players ranked inside the top 20 who is teeing it up here. (The others are No. 5 Phil Mickelson, No. 11 Matt Kuchar and No. 13 Jordan Spieth.)
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CHANGING THINGS UP: Martin Laird has used a 46-inch putter and has adopted the anchoring technique at times. But he’s cut 6 inches off of his putter shaft and isn’t anchoring.
It is not, however, a concession to the rules change that will take effect in 2016, when anchoring will not be allowed. “No, not at all. I just thought I needed to putt better. I didn’t putt very good last year,” said Laird.
While not anchoring, Laird concedes that his 40-inch putter “is like a mock belly (putter), I guess you could call it.”
He said he went to the technique at the start of the year and loves how it has been going. “I really feel like I’ve been putting better this year and more consistent with it than I did last year.”
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THE GIRL BEHIND THE MASK: Mention three-putt and you’d get a cold stare inside the Faxon home in Barrington, R.I. But “three-peat?” Ah, now you’re talking and Brad Faxon will gladly gush about daughter Sophie, who has followed in her dad’s footsteps for achieving athletic success inside the Ocean State.
Brad Faxon, of course, was an accomplished golfer at the junior level before moving on to a distinguished PGA Tour career. Sophie embraced a far different sports challenge – just don’t ever ask her why she chose to be a hockey goaltender. The young lady still can’t remember what pushed her in this direction, but Barrington High School followers are glad she did don the mask, glove, and pads.
Backboning a pair of shutouts, 4-0 and 5-0, Sophie Faxon led Barrington to a sweep of the best-of-three championship series against Narragansett High School to clinch a third consecutive Rhode Island Div. 2 girls’ hockey state championship. Sophie was the starting goaltender for each of those championship teams, which made her father proud.
Adding more sweetness to her high school legacy, Sophie Faxon drew a rare goalie’s assist on one of her team’s goals in the clincher.
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MR. OCTOBER IN MARCH: When you have to cut the 18-hole golf day in half and come up with an audible for your charitable guests, it pays to have in attendance the sort of celebrities who can keep the entertainment going. Reggie Jackson was once again Mr. Clutch – in March, not October – as he conducted a Q&A when heavy rain interrupted Jim and Tabitha Furyk’s charity tournament at Sawgrass CC in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“Tabitha and I are so fortunate to have the support of the community and so many friends from around the country,” said the host after the Furyk & Friends Concert and Celebrity Golf Classic raised another $450,000.
Jackson and Furyk’s longtime AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am partner, NFL Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann, headlined the list of marquee athletes, while colleagues from the PGA Tour included Davis Love, Zach Johnson, and Justin Leonard.
In just four years, the event has raised $1.2 million for charities in the Jacksonville area.