Media Center Interviews

April 19, 2016

Interview With Jimmy Walker

DOUG MILNE: Jimmy Walker, defending champion of the Valero Texas Open. Jimmy, thanks for joining us for a few minutes.

Making your 11th start here in the Valero Texas Open. If I looked at it right, 1-under 71 last year was one of just 12 subpar scores in the 1st Round.

Obviously a bit of a challenge with the wind last year. But convincingly you got the job done.

So with that said, just a few comments on being back here at the TPC San Antonio.

JIMMY WALKER: It's always good to be home, it's good to be in Texas and get to sleep in your own bed. Kind of nice. The golf course is in great shape. I know we've gotten some rain and weather the last couple of days. Hopefully it stays away the rest of the week.

I know we've gotten the better end of it compared to a couple places in Texas, but, yeah, hopefully it holds out and we can have a good week, get some people out and enjoy the good weather.

DOUG MILNE: How does the home game, so to speak, like this alter your mindset, if at all? Obviously you've got family, friends crawling out of the woodwork. Do you have to kind of alter your mindset at all?

JIMMY WALKER: You know, I think it's actually kind of nice. It feels a little more relaxed, I think, honestly. Yes, you do have a lot of people around but everybody is here to support and have a good time and show you a good time and hopefully see some good stuff.

But everybody was great last year and finishing the way we did and, you know, it was just awesome, it really was. It was a lot of fun. Lot of fond memories. You bring that into this week, too.

DOUG MILNE: My last question is, your game as you're heading in the week, I know you've had 3 Top-10 finishes so far this season.

Are you pleased with where you are right now?

JIMMY WALKER: I feel pretty good. I feel like I've just been missing out just a little bit here and there, you know, 9 holes, something like that, maybe a round, but it's all right there.

Got home from Augusta, kind of did some stat crunching numbers and stuff and just looked at some areas where I might be able to improve and saw some holes. So, started in last week on trying to fix some of those holes. Figured it was -- felt like we've had enough rounds in the book to kind of get a good picture of what's going on.

DOUG MILNE: With that, we'll take a few questions.

Q. What were the areas?

JIMMY WALKER: Especially the short game. I've done a lot of work with golf swing stuff. I feel like I'm hitting the ball better. I feel like I'm in better positions around the golf course. Drove it really well last week or two weeks ago but it's mostly just short game.

Just haven't been getting up and down enough, not pitching it close enough. Bunker game has been struggling a little bit. Maybe from little lack of practice.

Focusing on different areas. Focusing on different stuff and need to get back to not making any bogies. I'm just kind of wasting too many shots. I don't think it's from off the tee or approach shots or anything, just mostly pitching and putting, bunker play.

Q. Are you happy with your putting this year?

JIMMY WALKER: It's been okay. You know, heck, you always want to putt better. You always feel you could have made more putts. I know stat-wise it's fine. But you always want to make more.

Q. How does this week play in your bigger picture goals, kind of thinking and understanding to make Ryder Cup or the Olympics, putting up wins is going to be a major focus for you to be able to do that?

JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, it is. Achieving that stuff is a byproduct of going out and playing well and winning. I'm not real concerned about making any teams or -- all I'm doing is just, like I said, looking at the small things that I can do to get better.

I've seen some areas that need improvement. So I've started to work on those and hopefully those will bleed into better finishes and getting back to winning. It's not far off. It's close.

Q. Having played this golf course, you know, more than some other people have, what are the effects of the conditions this week? If this golf course plays soft as opposed to the way it normally does, how will that affect it?

JIMMY WALKER: I still think the greens are going to stay relatively firm. Even talking to some guys yesterday that played that even after the rain, they were still getting some nice bounces and release after the rain. The fairways were obviously kind of not running as well.

The rough isn't like it was last year. Last year it was overseeded. This year they didn't and the bermuda has come back but hasn't all grown yet. Driving the ball in the rough isn't going to be, I don't think, a big deal this week, just because it's not very long. You can get some pretty nice lies in the rough.

So that's just kind of -- just a South Texas thing right now this time of year. The transition and everything is coming back.

Q. Did you get everything done that you wanted to this week taking off to prepare for this or did the weather inhibit you at all from playing as many rounds as you wanted?

JIMMY WALKER: Last week was fine. I wanted to take a few weeks off and relax and I did. I started back real soft, pitching and putting. I got a putting green in my backyard and stayed out there and worked and just did a lot of that. Started to hit some balls. The golf swing has felt good. I haven't really had any -- you still work on it but I've been shifting focus a little bit. Nice off week last week and gearing up for this week.

Q. How much, all these tournaments that you played in this year with weather, elements, you know, you feel like you've gotten kind of some bad draws?

JIMMY WALKER: You get good ones and bad ones. I got a good draw last year. I know the guys went out Thursday morning, had a really tough time of it. I think we got to play about 7, 8 holes with that kind of wind. I know I played really well going out on the front-9 with that wind and then it got a lot easier in the afternoon.

But, you know, I got a good draw there I got kind of a -- just we got a weather event in San Diego this year. I felt I could have won that one.

So, I know the game has been there. It's there and I feel like I could have won that one pretty easily and we just got a bad weather event and Snedeker played an incredible final round.

It's been right there. You guys -- everybody will tell you it's really hard to win. You need a lot of luck, too.

Q. Watching it just as a fan of professional golf, watching this particular tournament, not only the stature on the Tour but the players thinking about this, what do you think about the Valero Texas Open and how it's grown the last couple years?

JIMMY WALKER: They keep making my minor improvements to the golf course. It's really resonating with the guys. A lot of guys like to show up and play a tough golf course. It's kind of the deal if you get bad weather you feel like half the field is out. They're in a bad mood. I'm not saying that about anybody.

There's guys that enjoy coming and playing tough tracks where you don't have to shoot 18, 25-under. We shot 9-under last year and won, something like that. It's a tough track.

It's got some tough tee shots, got some tough second shots and the greens can be a little tricky to read. They've got some South Texas grain in them. It can play with you a little bit.

Q. Given your success week the previous two seasons, did you enter this season with higher expectations and, if so, has it been frustrating to not get back into the winner's circle?

JIMMY WALKER: I didn't come in with higher expectations. I know and I knew that what I've done the last two years, you know, to keep doing that that early in the year is -- it's probably -- you're going to come to a point it's probably not going to happen and we hit it.

I haven't been looking for three straight years in a row. I would love for the year to really start to take off in the middle of the season this year. How cool would that be, or the end, how the season starts -- it builds and builds and builds right to the end.

You never know when you're going to get hot. I've gotten hot in the last two years right out of the gate. It may start this week, maybe next week or the week after. Who knows?

I feel like -- you know, I think we're sitting like 30th in FedExCup Points or something and so it's been a good year. It hasn't been the last two years but it's been good so far and I think I'm optimistic for the rest of the of the year.

Q. Statistically last year No. 1 ranked as the toughest opening hole on Tour. Do you find that that's the case, do you feel like that hole is the toughest one?

JIMMY WALKER: I think last year it was really tough. That hole started off straight downwind. If you missed the fairway it was hard to hit the green even if you hit the fairway. Hitting it in the rough, I mean you virtually couldn't hit the green and the whole thing kind of volcanos and it's just a tough pitch from wherever on that green.

So, I think that -- and then the wind switched and played back into the wind so it made it played even harder. It played just as hard. That's a hole they've moved up. Used to play that hole all the way back. You know, they've moved it up 30 yards. We didn't even play the back tee anymore, that's how hard that hole is. It's a tough stretch.

The opening stretch here is pretty good. 1 through 4 you got to kind of have all your stuff together. You do have a par 5 in there but it's really not too reachable by 90-some-odd percent of the field. It's a good par 5. And then 3 is a tough par 3 and 4 is a great, tough, 485-yard hole with a tiny green. You got to be precise.

DOUG MILNE: All right. Jimmy, we appreciate your time as always. Best of luck this week.

JIMMY WALKER: Thank you.