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January 10, 2018

Jimmy Walker

Honolulu, Hawaii

THE MODERATOR: I would like to welcome Jimmy Walker to the interview room here at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Jimmy, familiar and good place for you. I'm sure it brings some good memories, having won twice before.

JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, I like this room.

THE MODERATOR: Just talk a little bit about your feelings being back.

JIMMY WALKER: It's nice to be back. I always liked coming here. It's kind of been an interesting place, this golf tournament. It's kind of like where I feel my career took a step backwards a couple years ago, and then I kind of went the other way. Resurgence where it should be, where I always thought it should be.

So it's a special place for me. It's a little weird this year, don't have the family or the kids. It's been a long time since they haven't been here. I always walk down the 10th and look up, and they're up there at the Kahala. It's a little different this year. New scene down in Waikiki. It's been a while. Ate some good sushi last night.

Q. Sorry to open with this question, but last year was so difficult for you. Can you talk about physically how challenging it is with the lyme disease.
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, it wasn't -- I felt like some of the golf was there, but I just lacked kind of finishing out some of the tournaments and the rounds, especially early in the year. And then it really kind of started to hit. Kind of midyear I started to take some of the medication. It was just nice to finally get a diagnosis of what was wrong so you could maybe have a chance to fight it, try to beat it, that kind of thing.

But the meds I was taking made me really sensitive to the sun, so I couldn't be out in the sun. I tried to play the week of The PLAYERS and literally got -- I don't know what degree burns. It was blistering up, ears and hands and forearms. It didn't matter what I tried to do. Put 100 sunblock on every hole, and it didn't matter.

So I shut it down and just didn't practice. I think last year was a huge deal because I had no energy -- I just couldn't go out and practice. All I had was to be able to show up and go play. There were so many times when we'd finish a practice round, hey, let's go in and eat. If I go sit down, I can't stand up. I won't be able to get up out of the chair. Once I'm down, I'm down.

The worst part was just not being able to play with the kids and just be like a normal person. I've always been full of life and energy and running around, and I just didn't have any of that. You just kind of lose yourself in the disease a little bit because it just sucks the life out of you.

Q. And how is it now by comparison?
JIMMY WALKER: I'm a lot better physically. There's a whole -- there's a mental and physical part to go along with lyme disease. I physically feel a lot better. Mentally, I haven't played golf in a while. So we'll see how all that starts, how all that goes.

But I've been working on the game, working on my body. Since September, I've been able to put ten pounds back on. Feel a lot healthier. I can see the difference in like my TrackMan numbers from when I finished up last year. It's incredible just what feeling good can do for you and for your confidence too.

Q. It's good to see you again.
It seems like the young new wave of stars likes to come here to play, and it hasn't always been that way. How energizing is that for a veteran, especially one like you who's had success out here?

JIMMY WALKER: I think it's great that the younger guys are embracing last week's event. For a long time, our best players weren't playing that event. They quit playing it. I have no idea why. It's such a cool place to go hang out for a week. But they are embracing it. I think everybody's enjoying coming over. They're coming over four or five days early, getting some good work in, playing and practicing. I mean, we get to go out in golf carts, and we've got the whole golf course to ourself. There's no better way to go out and practice and play.

Kapalua to yourself, I think that's what a lot of guys have enjoyed doing. I know that's what I enjoyed doing. It tore me up this year that I wasn't able to go back. It's really an amazing place to go play golf.

So they're embracing that and then jump right on over the next week and play over here. It's a 30-minute flight or 15-minute flight, whatever it is. This course has been around a long time. It's got a lot of good history, and a lot of really good players have won here.

It's a fun golf course to play. It's tricky off the tee. It's one of the hardest courses there is on Tour to hit fairways. I've always enjoyed playing here. So I think it's great that the guys are continuing their Hawaii swing and showing up for the first one.

Q. How's Erin doing? How crazy is it that it's the same thing given that you can't -- it's not like it's a contagious disease.
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, I think there's a lot that we really don't know about it -- how she got it, how I got it, you know. But she just hasn't been feeling good, lots of headaches and a lot of other stuff that was going on. We got all that checked out. And when everything like that checks out fine, I said, you've got to get -- you need to get tested because -- and sure enough, it pops right up.

She walks as much as anybody in this room does. She rides horses. She's out in the grass, out on the fairway. She could have picked it up there. Lyme community, it's really split on a lot of people say you can catch it from somebody or you can't. The government says you can't, the CDC. It's really weird. It's a definite, seems like a rabbit hole of stuff. So we're just trying to take it very straightforward, and she's doing the exact same meds I was doing this summer. She's struggling right now. She's having a hard time.

So hopefully, it gets better. She's felt worse since she's been on the medication. That is the case for a lot of people. , which I think is a good thing because that means it's probably working.

Q. I'm wondering if you know about Morgan Hoffmann's situation. Have you talked to him or had any advice for him?
JIMMY WALKER: Well, I had breakfast with Morgan this morning. All I can ask is how he's doing. He did the same for me. We're on a completely different path of things that are going on. I can't imagine what he's going through and how he's feeling, but all you can do is just ask. I know it feels good when guys ask, how are you feeling? Like I appreciate that. Thank you.

So hopefully, he takes that, all of us asking him, the right way. We're just worried about him. It's a crazy diagnosis, especially -- it's nuts.

Q. But no physical challenges for being not 100 percent?
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, I understand that. I'm not walking in his shoes. I can't imagine. I'm trying to just say, what have you been doing? Have you been flying? Take his mind off of whatever's going on. Just continue the conversation like everything's pretty good but let him know we're thinking about him.

Q. This is coming in late, but what is your long-term prognosis?
JIMMY WALKER: I really don't know. I don't think -- I just know I'm getting better. I don't know how much longer. I still have the -- I still have what everybody calls like that lyme feeling, and I still have some of the -- I don't think it's because I'm getting old. I still have some of the forgetfulness and just things slip out of your head. But I still have the feelings, especially kind of around nighttime anymore. But it's getting more few and far between.

Throughout the day, I feel really good. Every now and then I'll kind of get a little feeling, and then it just goes away. So I know it's getting better, where before it would last weeks on end, where you felt like that the whole time.

Q. Your level of optimism or outlook, can you speak to the difference you feel now compared to a year ago?
JIMMY WALKER: Yeah, a year ago right now, I didn't know what was going on. It didn't take until April when I found out what was happening. I just knew that something -- about this time last year, I said, something's weird. I can't keep getting sick like this. And now we know. Lyme's the great imitator. It kicks back up stuff that -- stuff you've had in the past. At one point, all my blood panels showed I had lyme and mono and West Nile and two types of flu and CMV. I mean, six crazy things that it's just really, really weird, like I can't even describe. I mean, I can't --

Q. Mono was first, right?
JIMMY WALKER: That's what came back first, yeah. And then the lyme came back, and that was positive. And then we tested for all the co-infections, and that's when all the other stuff popped up, like you've got to be kidding me. Like what is this?

Q. What was the last one, CMV?
JIMMY WALKER: It's cytomegalovirus. It's a virus you get from little kids. Little kids carry it, daycares and schools and stuff.

But long term, it's just nice to feel good and kind of be able to feel like me again -- energy, more drive -- get your drive back, get a little zip in your step. That's been the nicest thing. Play with your kids because I wasn't able to do that for a long time. It was just brutal.

Q. Health is more important than what you do for a living, but I wonder if you ever felt like an outsider last year, in terms of results and what you were used to.
JIMMY WALKER: Personally, definitely I did. But my buds out here did not make me feel that way, which was nice. I wasn't playing up to the level that I'd been playing the last four or five years, but you wouldn't know it by the way I was treated by everybody. So that was nice. And still nothing's changed. So that's good.

Q. Outside is the wrong word. I guess it must have felt like you were missing out.
JIMMY WALKER: Definitely some FOMO, you know. Especially coming off the last three or four years of my career have been very, very solid, and there's no reason for it to have stopped, to have quit, especially coming off of '16. Win a Major Championship, and then we win the Ryder Cup. I mean, I'm just on this crazy high, and then I'm going down to play in the World Cup with my buddy, and I go down there, and that's when it started, that week.

I went down there with no Advil, no Tylenol, no allergy meds, like I felt fine, and I got down there and literally polished off a big bottle of Advil that week just to feel -- like I just got so sick and weak. I'm like what is wrong? I'm like, okay, I've got to get something in me to feel good for my buddy over here. Didn't fly all the way down here to dog out on him. And that was the start of it.

Q. (No microphone).
JIMMY WALKER: That wasn't it. I never touched that stuff.

Q. If we get back to 100 percent and just talking on the golf course, anything from this experience or what you've gone through, do you feel like you could use it to your benefit going forward on the course?
JIMMY WALKER: I think so. I've been in a pretty bad mood on the golf course this last year. Just -- there's just -- especially with some of the mental stuff. Like I just felt like my body was not able to do what my mind was telling it to do, and I still struggle with that a little bit.

That's the frustrating part. Concentration is going to be key. Really focusing in on what I'm trying to do and the shot I'm trying to hit and the chips and the pitches and every shot. So we'll just take it as it comes. Like it's been a nice, relaxing four months for me, but it's been a lot of physical work.

So I was looking forward to getting back to this year and getting back into playing and kind of playing my way back into form a little bit. The weather hasn't been great at home, and it's been really cold. So we've been kind of scratching and clawing where we can get in and play some golf. Went down to Florida a couple of times. Went to Vegas a couple of times. So just been grinding away on it. It's nice to get back out here. It's a good place to start. I've got a lot of really, really good memories here. I've played some phenomenal golf here. So it's all right out there.

Q. Where in Florida?
JIMMY WALKER: At the Floridian. Good spot.

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