28 September 2016
Journeyman to Juggernaut
His victory at the 98th PGA Championship was another great performance by Jimmy Walker whose career has been on the rise since 2013. Butch Harmon has been credited with helping to shape his game and personality. Today Jimmy is a fighter.
Jimmy Walker recalled when he first texted the legendary coach Butch Harmon in 2012, asking him whether they could meet for a range session. “It took three weeks for him to answer back,” said Walker who was way down on the money list in 2013, as quoted by Golf.com. “It was a little discouraging but in fairness we’d never even talked before.”
Although they spent a day at Butch’s swing factory in Las Vegas, their working partnership didn’t take off immediately. After an on-off relationship for months, Butch finally agreed to work together full-time with Jimmy at the end of the year.
Jimmy also recalled that he gave Butch a $1,200 bottle of Château Margaux four years ago when Harmon refused payment for their first of many lessons. Butch made a promise that he would open it when Jimmy won a major, which Jimmy did at the 98th PGA Championship. Jimmy took home the title from Baltusrol, beating reigning champion Jason Day by one shot.
It’s been a long road to his first major but the PGA Championship title is the latest addition to Jimmy’s growing golf curriculum vitae. Under Harmon’s direction he’s now won six times on the PGA Tour. The 37-year-old has also played on both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. Add that to his jump from 117th in the world in 2013 to his current position at 19th.
Before meeting Butch, Jimmy hadn’t had a victory in his 187 PGA Tour starts. Now, with six wins under his belt he has become a weekly contender. Butch has successfully transformed both Jimmy’s game and confidence, transitioning him from journeyman to juggernaut.
" … The first thing Butch told me was that he doesn't take just anyone on. He believed I had the ability to be great and he said I had to start believing that. Having him say something like that meant a lot," said Jimmy.
Butch is renowned for being able to motivate his players. On Sunday, before the final round of the 98th PGA Championship, Butch gave Jimmy a pep-talk and told him to “go out there and show everyone who Jimmy Walker really is.” And the Wanamaker Trophy was in his hands in the end.