PGA champion Jimmy Walker, LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson team up for charity
Both Jimmy Walker and Lexi Thompson had a pretty good 2016 for different reasons.
But they were in the same place for the same reason Monday. The 2016 PGA Championship winner and the LPGA Tour star who was a 2016 Olympian played in the 10th Immokalee Foundation Charity Classic Pro-Am at Bay Colony Golf Club. They led a host of tour pros supporting the Foundation, which is in its 25th year.
Supporting charities is one of the givens for many tour golfers, but both Walker and Thompson, who were each playing in the event for the first time, saw what led to a $2.2 million total raised combining the golf tournament with last week's gala that included success stories from those helped by the Foundation over its history.
"I didn't know a lot about the Foundation, but as I came in and started reading about them and what they do, providing school for the kids for the migrant worker and the families, it's really cool," said Walker, who committed back in April. "Kids are great and they're our future. I've got two little boys, 6 and 3, and they're a top priority in my life. Everybody's very passionate. You can tell. They really get behind it."
"This one's very special," Thompson said. "It's just a huge honor to be a part of it, to raise money for the Immokalee Foundation, and be here in Naples with such nice people."
Thompson will spend the week in Naples with some nice people, her fellow LPGA Tour players in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. The 21-year-old will be looking to cap off a season that's included just one victory, but a solid nine top-10 finishes.
"I had two wins (one was a non-LPGA event) in the beginning of the year, and just overall played consistent," she said. "I had a lot of top-10s this year. I struggled in the past few events, but I scrambled my way to some good finishes, but that's golf. I've just got to keep on working."
Thompson will get to close the year close to home -- just across Alligator Alley from Coral Springs, where her family and many friends still live.
"It does mean a lot to me," she said. "Unfortunately I don't think I can win the Race to the CME Globe part, but just to have a local event. I have a lot of family and friends that come over to watch me. It's just a very relaxing week, but still means a lot, being season-ending and wanting to finish it off strong."
Walker, 37, finally broke through with the PGA Championship victory, holding off Jason Day at Baltusrol on a 36-hole final day.
"It's huge," he said. "To join a club (of winners) like that. It's a very cool deal to be part of the PGA Championship. It's a cool legacy to have, to be able to go back as many times as you want the rest of your life and be a part of a family."
Walker had a win with a different family a few weeks later, when he and the Americans beat Europe to win the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. Walker went 1-2-0, teaming with Zach Johnson win foursomes on the first day over Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.
"It's a great way to end the year," he said. "They were so into it, so behind it. Everybody was invested, excited to play, ready to play. We really wanted to win it.
"It was tough. We had a lot of weight on our shoulders to carry it through. We all felt it."
Now Walker has to feel out how to take what he did in 2016 and do it again, or even do it again better. But first, he's going to let 2016 settle in.
"I think you enjoy that -- enjoy that moment and keep enjoying it, because it's something I've dreamt about my whole life — winning a major championship — and really trying to soak that in," he said. "It's a new year. We've got to go do it again. I'm focused on getting better, being more consistent."
This article was written by Greg Hardwig from Naples Daily News, Fla. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.