Walker 'feeling better' after difficult summer with Lyme disease
Jimmy Walker broke through for his biggest win to date last year at the US PGA Championship. This year, he is still battling an internal struggle, but is ready to contend once again.
Walker announced in April his diagnosis of Lyme disease, an illness that can drain energy and lead to more serious problems if left untreated.
The 38-year-old struggled to play his best golf this summer while fighting through the symptoms. Now, he's ready for a fresh start.
"I'm feeling better, a lot better than I have, and it's nice," Walker said at a news conference at Quail Hollow on Tuesday.
"I've got a lot more energy. I'm able to practice more and that's just been something I've been kind of lacking. I do feel good on that front."
Walker surprisingly has just one top-10 finish all year - the first tournament in January. The illness played a big factor in that, which is why Walker is still confident in his ability to contend in big events.
"I'm not worried about the golf or the game," Walker said. "Doing what we did last year, being able to win this tournament and set yourself up for basically the rest of your career, is just a nice - it's a huge relief.
"But the competitor inside you, it's kind of hard to take when you can't get out there and get going.
"I know everybody likes time off from work, but I really don't. I enjoy coming out and playing and competing, and when you can't do it at your best, it's tough. You've kind of got to give yourself a little bit of a break, which is hard to do, and I'm working hard on it."
Quail Hollow was rainy and humid early on Tuesday, but Walker was out there practicing anyway. Playing alongside Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner and Justin Thomas, Walker was a little wayward off the tee, but recovered nicely on multiple occasions.
Everyone except Dufner utilised a new PGA Tour rule that gives professionals the opportunity to play in shorts during practice rounds this week. Walker said there has been some ribbing among peers regarding their legs.
"I think it's pretty cool," Walker said. "Just kind of thinking outside the box a little bit, and I applaud the PGA for doing that. I think the guys are having fun doing it.
"It's not like we don't see each other in shorts. But everybody is razzing each other a little bit. I think some there's guys that look really good in shorts and some guys that don't look really good in shorts. It's pretty funny.
"I think a lot of untanned legs - you can tell those Florida boys. You know they have been down there soaking the sun up. I've been up in Utah and I've been overseas for two weeks, wet and cold, so my legs aren't very tan right now."
Walker will get his title defence started on Thursday at 1:25pm local time alongside Dufner and Phil Mickelson.