The Northern Trust Open is the last stop on the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, and the last chance for young, lesser known players to snag a tournament win, or top ten finish before the tour moves on to Florida, and all of the big stars return. The new wrap-around schedule has brought some of the stars back to work earlier, in fear of falling too far behind in FedEx Cup points, so making up ground this year will be far more difficult.
As I looked over the expert picks, and power rankings for this final week on the West Coast, three-time winner, Jimmy Walker is getting some respect, but after blowing a six-shot lead at Pebble Beach on Sunday afternoon, his support this week is not stellar.
Walker has amassed a nice war chest since the new season started back in October. A points lead in excess of 700 points, and over $3.5 Million Dollars in his bank account should carry him well into the payoffs, and give him a huge chance of making the Ryder Cup.
If history holds, we will get a chance in the next couple of months to see if Jimmy Walker has become the real deal, or just another early season flash in the pan. After leaving the West Coast in 2013, Walker missed six cuts including ones at the Open Championship, and the PGA. He also missed cuts at The Wyndham, and The Deutche Bank during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The FedEx Cup leader was able to pick up wins at the Frys.com, and Sony Open, but the win at Pebble Beach was by far, his most quality win of the season against a good solid field of World-Class players. He missed the cut at The Farmers Insurance Open, and with the difficulty the South Course provided, I will give him a pass. His finish this week at Riviera, and when the tour moves to Florida is what will tell the story of Jimmy Walker.
So as the Tour moves on to Florida, and into the majors season, we will see how the 34 year-old Walker will fare as more of the strong players return from Europe, the fields get progressively stronger, and the golf courses get tougher. We will get our first look at him at Augusta, and we will see how he holds up down the stretch.
Who knows, we might see Jimmy Walker at Gleneagles in September playing against the best in the world. And maybe Not!
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