Northern Trust Open 2014: Jimmy Walker looks to continue hot hand

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

On a big-time roll, Jimmy Walker will take his FedExCup-leading game to Riviera this week.

Jimmy Walker hopes to upstage Justin Rose’s return to competitive golf at this week’s Northern Trust Open by winning his fourth PGA Tour event in his last eight starts.

Could anyone have predicted that, by the seventh tourney of the year (and 15th of the wrap-around 2013-2014 season) that the formerly little-known Walker would not only be sitting pretty in first place in the FedExCup standings but leading Tiger Woods by 1,732 points? Well, with 1,733 points, the 35-year-old from Oklahoma has taken the tour by storm and leads his closest competitor, Harris English, by 757 points in the season-long race for the $10 million payoff.

If Walker, fresh from a one-shot win over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner at Pebble Beach, stays true to the form that has made him extremely successful in California, he could go back-to-back at Riviera. In addition to two of the three tour wins that he’s earned in Tiger’s home state, Walker has tallied four straight top-10 finishes at Pebble Beach.

Here are some other stats (via PGATour.com’s D.J. Piehowski) that have Walker doing a bit of California dreaming as he prepares to extend his FEC lead in Pacific Palisades:

  • With just 15 percent of his career starts in the state, Walker has accrued 45 percent of his earnings there
  • 10 of his 23 career top-10 finishes have been in California
  • In his last 15 starts in the state, Walker has missed just one cut (at last month’s Farmers Insurance Open where he was sick)

And next up on the schedule is a contest Walker called his favorite and where he has top-20 finishes in the past three seasons.

"I like the golf courses. They just seem to fit my eye," Walker, in a bit of an understatement, said on Saturday at Pebble about his apparent preference for California golfing. "I think it happens for everybody -- you get into these little grooves in places and you feel comfortable and you like them and the ball kind of goes in the hole for you ... guys get comfortable in spots."

As for Rose, he will make his first start of the year after delaying his 2014 debut due to tendinitis in his right shoulder. With his last start in mid-December at the Thailand Golf Championship, look for the reigning U.S. Open champion to be shaking off a bit of rust.

More from SB Nation Golf:

Healthy Justin Rose looks forward to 2014 debut

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's niece, content to toil in LPGA minor

Watch Fowler and Uihlein showboat with flop shot wizardry

Jimmy Walker joins elite company with third win in eight starts

Sand vandals troll CBS at Pebble Beach | #Lookit

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