For more than 10 years, Jimmy Walker had plugged away as a professional golfer before winning the 2013 Frys.com Open at age 34. It was his 188th start on the PGA Tour. Then it all fell into place.He won two more times in his next seven events. "He's definitely a late bloomer," says Butch Harmon, his teacher since 2011, "but he's also going to be around a long time."His performance so far this year suggests he will. Walker got into a playoff at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, won the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished two back at the Farmers Insurance Open to take an early lead in the FedEx Cup standings. Last September, he was one of the U.S. team's few bright spots in his first Ryder Cup, winning 2½ points and defeating Lee Westwood in singles.The Baylor grad is also an amateur astronomer—he and his wife, Erin, even moved to a remote town near San Antonio for a better night sky. Walker is not your typical tour player. Harmon calls his swing "old school," which is just fine with them. "We didn't want to create a new swing, just take what he does naturally and make it better."
A STURDY STARTWalker used to have a narrow stance, but his coach, Butch Harmon, wanted him to swing from a wider platform. "Getting wide dropped his head behind the ball more. That's good for the driver." Notice Walker's balance and symmetry at address. "His weight is 50-50," Harmon says. "He's not leaning one way or the other."
STRETCHING BACK"Jimmy used to get the club narrow and too much to the inside during the takeaway," Harmon says. "Now look how far his left hand is away from his head as he goes back. His left arm is really stretched out. Plus, the shaft swings back more in line with his feet instead of going quickly to the inside."
CONTROL THE TOPGreat flexibility is a hallmark of Walker's swing, but it has worked against him in the past. "He has the ability to turn almost too much," Harmon says. "We've reduced his turn a bit so he has an easier time delivering the club to the ball." Harmon also likes how Walker makes a good coil without moving outside his right leg.
KEEPING IT WIDEHalfway down, you can see another big change they've made. "He's much wider coming down—look at the space between the shaft and his head," Harmon says. "He used to be so long going back that when he started down, the club would almost lay on his shoulder. Now his hands drop straight down."
LOTS OF LEG ACTIONWalker's knee drive is a bit of a throwback, according to Harmon. "Most modern players have the front knee straight at impact, but Jimmy's still has some bend," Harmon says. "And his head is still back—that's all old school. We continue to work on getting his spine more on top of the ball at impact. It's a work in progress."
FINISH STRONGIn the follow-through, Walker's full arm extension matches his extension going back. Harmon says: "Notice at the finish his right shoulder is so much closer to the target than his left, and he's totally up on his front foot. A beautiful unwinding of the body." And the swing speed to average more than 300 yards off the tee.