Fresh slate for Walker after golden 2014 campaign

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 7:07 AM

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Trying to replicate a career-best season is no easy task for any golfer and for Jimmy Walker the slate will be "wiped clean" as he launches his 2015 campaign at this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

After toiling away as a journeyman for several winless years on the highly competitive PGA Tour, Walker finally made his breakthrough in stunning fashion as he triumphed three times early on in 2013-14.

The slim American also performed well at the four majors, recording three top-10s last season, and has set his sights on clinching one of golf's most coveted titles in 2014.

"The slate is going to be wiped clean for me in 2014 but it's a career for me and I think you've got to look at it in a broad sense," Walker, 35, told Reuters as he wrapped up his preparations for the opening PGA Tour event of the year.

"I definitely want to keep doing what I've been doing. It was a lot of fun last season and it sure is fun to play well in the big events but I'd like to play ever better. So I'm looking forward to the challenge of being even better this year."

Walker, whose world ranking has climbed to 21 following his three victories on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, has especially targeted golf's blue riband events.

SIZZLING START

"I want to compete and win one (a major) so that's one of my goals this year," said the American, standing by the clubhouse at Kapalua's Plantation Course with a spectacular, sun-splashed view of the Pacific and island of Molokai in the distance.

"I'm really looking forward to getting to Augusta (National) for the Masters and starting it off but there's still a lot of really good golf in between now and then so I am pretty focused on that."

Walker won three times in just eight starts to launch his 2013-14 season in sizzling fashion and believes his game is close to that level heading into Friday's opening round at Kapalua where an elite, winners-only field of 34 has assembled.

"I feel good," smiled the Oklahoma native, who now resides in Texas. "I feel like I am prepared and rested and ready to go. Time will tell. I have done what I need to do to be ready, and that's all I can do."

Walker became only the fourth player since 1995 to win three events in eight or fewer starts to begin a PGA Tour season, emulating the previous achievements of David Duval, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who did so an incredible eight times.

"You play hard to get into a position to have a chance to win and sometimes it's hard to get to that point, but the more times you do, obviously the more chances you're going to have," said Walker.

"Eventually you will break through and get the win. It's just about being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of the breaks when you get them."

(Editing by John O'Brien)