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When Jimmy Walker won the Frys.com Open in October, many thought, "Isn't it nice that he got his first win in 188 PGA Tour starts?" When he followed that up with a victory last month at the Sony Open, the triumph was looked upon more like a guy who's got the hot hand.
Now, after a nail-biting one-shot win at Pebble Beach gave Walker his third victory in his past eight starts, will he finally be viewed any differently?
Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.
|Jimmy Walker held on for a one-shot win at Pebble Beach, his third victory of the 2013-14 season.|
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Definitely the Ryder Cup spot. The three wins are nice, but they aren't any of the majors, The Players or even WGC events. The playing privileges for that long mean stability and feel nice for the family. But if you want a real place in history and have people speak your name well after you're gone, be on the winning Ryder Cup team. Nothing but a major win trumps that.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The job security. Even with some wild chance he doesn't make the Ryder Cup team this year, with the exemption through 2018, he has at least two more shots to make that team over the new few years. Some recent Ryder Cup members wish they could trade that experience for several good years on the PGA Tour.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: The exemption. For a guy who never before had that kind of security, to have fully exempt status for three more years beyond this one is huge. A spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is a nice bonus.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Emotionally, the Ryder Cup will feel like a bigger deal, but from a practical standpoint, the PGA Tour exemption means more in the long haul. The simple fact that he can play without worrying about keeping his card for the better part of half of the next decade will give Walker the peace of mind to handle the ups and downs that come in professional golf.
Collins: We learned about the internal fortitude he has coming down the stretch after all but blowing a six-shot lead. When he absolutely, positively had to make the putt to win when it mattered at the end, he made it. Not by much, but this was the hardest of all his wins and the one he'll draw the most on in future tournaments.
Evans:That no matter how well you're playing, it's very hard to close a PGA Tour event. Walker blew a six-shot lead with four bogeys on his inward nine holes, but he still held on to win by a shot. If there had been extra holes, it's doubtful that he would have had much left in his game to pull out the victory.
Harig: He showed he can play in some tough weather conditions. Pebble Beach was not exactly sunshine and warmth, and Saturday was particularly difficult, even though he was playing at the easier Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Sunday was also no bargain, but he got the job done. Nobody will remember that a 6-shot lead turned into a 1-shot victory.
Maguire: That he can handle all sorts of pressure. Walker held on for a victory after leading by 6 shots heading into the final round Sunday. The win came after he gagged a short putt to 3-jack the 17th hole and saw his lead trimmed to a shot. He rebounded, though, and sank a 5-footer on No. 18 to claim career win No. 3.
Collins: She's a closer. She now knows in her heart that she can play and beat the best women in the world when she's on her game. After the disastrous showing at the past two LPGA Q-schools, Cheyenne now can take this win and build what I believe will be an extremely successful career on the LPGA Tour in years to come.
Evans: She proved with the win in Australia that she can succeed at the professional level. It also demonstrates her dedication and capability to function outside of the shadow of her famous uncle.
Harig: Even more so than in men's golf, African-American faces have been lacking in the women's game. Not only is Woods a rare minority participant, but she is now a winner on a big stage and perhaps an inspiration to young players who might not otherwise have tried.
Maguire: If she can build on it, get starts on the LPGA Tour and earn playing privileges, Woods has the potential to produce a dramatic effect on the world's top women's tour. Setting aside for a moment the fact that she is a person of color who could inspire generations of golfers, her surname alone could bring a level of attention never seen before on the LPGA Tour.
Collins: If the tour really wants the stars to come out to match play, they have to move to a new course and a new date. Asking the best players in the world to play golf on a mountain in February is like asking a supermodel to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas.
Evans: Matt Kuchar took home $1.5 million last year for winning the Match Play. That paycheck is plenty of incentive for these players. But the tour could do away with the single-elimination element to ensure that some of the top players are not one-and-done in the event.
Harig: A venue change -- which is expected after this year -- will likely help, but really this is more about there being so many excellent, big-money tournaments that the stars can afford to skip if it suits them. Short of a playing mandate or a schedule overhaul, that won't change.
Maguire: It's not about the money with these guys, so change the venue. The greens at Dove Mountain aren't exactly a favorite on tour, so it's time to find a course, or preferably a rotation of courses, that is deserving of the top 64 players in the game.