01/19/2015

The two surprise stars of 2014 have proven already that they have more in store for 2015.

Last week, Patrick Reed bested Jimmy Walker in a playoff at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Walker made sure there would be no repeated history.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.04.06 AM

He won the Sony Open on Sunday by nine strokes. Actually, check that “repeated history” statement. This is Walker’s second-straight Sony title, and fourth PGA victory over all.

The former journeyman turned tour stalwart loves the Hawaiian Islands, which seems obvious, but his scores in the 50th state are absolutely absurd. In his last 16 rounds at the two Hawaii stops, Walker has a combined score of 68-under. He closed that run emphatically with a 62-63 weekend.

It was the type of ending that Walker deserved a week after faltering down the stretch. By the turn on Sunday, the tournament was well in his hands. He could relax on celebrate a little bit. After all, he did turn 36 during Friday’s second round.

That may be old by some standards—in any other sport even—but in golf, mid-30’s could be considered a player’s prime. Walker is the latest example of someone who added maturity and wisdom to supreme natural talent to make some noise on tour.

A year ago, you could throw the word “fluke” into the conversation surrounding the Baylor product. That’s no longer the case. Walker may have faded down the stretch in 2014, but he played decently well in the dumpster fire that was the American effort at the Ryder Cup.

At this point, though, a tour win is not enough for Walker, even one as dominant as this. Johnny Miller made a comment about Walker’s terrific putting during his final round. “This guy’s automatic,” Miller said. He added, “If only we were at Augusta next week.”

That’s where Walker is at. The same is true for him as it is for Reed and other emerging golfers. Can they win on the biggest stage? Walker will get his first shot of the season in April with everyone else.

If it doesn’t work out for him, he could always retire to the comfort of Hawaii. I hear it’s nice.