Golf Comment: Late bloomer Walker shows journeymen way

Sam Torrance
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Jimmy Walker during third round play of the Valero Texas Open at the AT&T Oaks Course (Source: Getty)
Watching at close quarters as Jimmy Walker made his Ryder Cup debut for the United States last year at Gleneagles I couldn’t help being impressed with his game.

Walker has a superb swing and, now in his 15th year as a professional, he is in the form of his life. That was evident as he claimed his second PGA Tour title of the year at the Texas Open on Sunday. That was the 36-year-old’s fifth victory in America in little more than 18 months – all the more remarkable given that before that run he had spent 187 events on the tour toiling in vain for a maiden win.

In the end he won his home event comfortably, having started the final day four shots clear and quickly extended his advantage over his playing partner, Jordan Spieth.

But it is no mean feat these days seeing off youngster Spieth, who put in another great performance and has now registered top-seven finishes in eight of his last 10 outings.

Late developer Walker has clearly got the taste for success now and enters the last week before the Masters in the world top 10 for the first time. His rise is a reminder to others going through difficult spells that fortunes can change quickly, and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay will hope his win at the weekend is the start of his own purple patch.

Ramsay, 31, was tipped for stardom when he became the first British man to win the prestigious US Amateur Championship for 95 years in 2006.

The Scot won his third European Tour title on Sunday at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco after an extraordinary recovery to dropping four shots in just two holes.

Ramsey did very well to hole three birdies on a bogey-free back nine and eclipse the clubhouse lead held by England’s Chris Wood, eventually winning by one stroke from Frenchman Romain Wattel.

His haul of three wins on tour may not be prolific but is still pretty good and it may be that Ramsay, like Walker, is a slow burner.

Walker and Spieth are among those preferring to play this week, at the Houston open, in order to hone their game before heading to Augusta for the year’s first Major.

They will be joined in Houston by England’s Justin Rose. Having missed three of his last four cuts, Rose is in urgent need of an improvement in form if he is to challenge for the Masters next week.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam