... Jimmy Walker? You remember him - money leader on the Nationwide Tour last year, most promising rookie on the PGA Tour this year.
The San Antonio resident got off to a rough start this year, straining neck muscles while in Hawaii at the start of the PGA Tour season. After a few weeks off, he came back in February and missed four straight cuts. Then he posted a couple Top 20 finishes before his physical ailments started acting up again. He missed two more cuts, and hasn't played since the Wachovia Championship in May.
By this point, there's very little chance Walker could make enough money to keep his Tour card for 2006, even if he managed to get back out there. But that hasn't appeared to be an option.
I've talked to Walker's physical therapist and to his instructor, both of whom were pretty closed-mouthed about what's going on. But it has been known that the original neck strain Walker suffered at the beginning of the year was later joined by back problems.
Here's what the San Antonio Express-News reported today: Walker's biggest problem has been a bulging disk in his back. Ouch! No wonder we haven't seen him. The good news, the newspaper reported, is that Walker is swinging again. He plans to play a few events on the Nationwide Tour at the end of the season to get back into competition. Walker has also applied for and been granted a medical exemption by the PGA Tour. That means he will keep his Tour card for 2006.
It's good to know that Walker will get another shot next year. If this guy stays healthy, he's a threat to the best players in the world. Walker combines booming drives with a great putting touch. His coach told me, about a year and a half ago, that he expected Walker to be a Top 5 player in the world within a couple years. And he was serious.
If he's healthy, then Jimmy Walker's future is, in a word, dyn-o-mite.