By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Only nine 54-hole leaders have won this season on the PGA TOUR, and we’ve seen comebacks from as many as eight shots in the final round.
So what makes it so difficult to close out a win the final 18 holes?
Jimmy Walker, who has never had the lead going into the final round but has ben in the top 5 a handful of times in his career, including at last week’s AT&T National, tried to answer that question at this week’s Greenbrier Classic.
Walker, along with Brendon de Jonge, are the only players in the field to have finished in the top 10 here the last couple of years.
“It takes a lot of mental ability just to stay in it for that long,” Walker said. “You’re not going to hit it great every day, but I think the weeks you play really well are the weeks you’re not really thinking about anything, when you’re just going through the motions and you can just go out and play pure golf.”
That was easier said than done for Walker last week, for example, when fans weren’t allowed at Congressional for the third round because of dangerous course conditions for spectators after an overnight storm had uprooted several large trees around the property.
Walker was tied for second going into the third round there but shot 75-76 on the weekend. He wasn’t making excuses, but the lack of a gallery wasn’t beneficial, either.
“I got to play in the final group, which didn’t feel like the final group,” Walker said. “I don’t think we really enjoyed the day as much. There was no adrenaline at all. It just felt like you were just kind of kind of out going through the motions. I wish we could have not played that day and either done 36 the next day or finished on Monday. I had kind of had a mindset going in already that, hey, I’ll be in the last two groups or last, you know, something like that. It’s going to be fun, going to be a lot of people out. And then it was just all the sudden there’s not going to be anybody out. That’s my fault for not readjusting.”
As far as closing out a win, something Walker hasn’t been able to do in 153 career starts on TOUR, he thinks it comes down to not thinking.
”I can think back to the times that I have won [on other tours],” Walker said. “I don’t remember having any swing thoughts when I played. I can remember being able to playing golf, see the shots, hit them, making putts. I think when you’re in that frame of mind, you’re not really out there grinding on anything.”