Jimmy Walker has moved to diffuse the storm surrounding his ‘backstopping’ comments on social media over the weekend, insisting: I was just trying to shed some light on what actually happens out here.
World No.55 Walker, the 2016 US PGA champion, found himself embroiled in a Twitter dispute with ex European Tour pro Michael Clayton and former world No.1 Lee Westwood after reacting to footage of Ben An and John Huh appearing to help each other during the FedEx St Jude Classic.
Clayton contended that it was an example of ‘backstopping’, the murky practice of tour pros purposefully not marking their ball in order to give their playing partners a ‘safety net’ to slow down a shot with too much pace.
Whilst most people agreed with Clayton that such behaviour is inappropriate and unfair to the rest of the field, Walker appeared to stand up for An and Huh, when he tweeted this:
Cue social media storm of epic proportions. We’ve summarised the key events here.
Needless to say, this has been far from ideal US Open prep for Walker, who, during a visit to Shinnecock Hills yesterday, spoke to the Golf Channel in an attempt to put the matter to bed.
“We see a video online and we don’t know what happened in that circumstance,” he said. “There’s no audio that said what was going on. I don’t know the conversation between those guys. I know that if I was the guy chipping, I’d want that ball gone. I’d want it marked or tapped in because that’s a shot right there.
“I don’t see how there was any malicious intent on either player’s part there, which is what everybody seemed to be talking about, and then somehow pace of play got dragged into it and that’s what kind of set me off a little bit.”
He added: “The whole marking the ball deal, it happens all the time where you pitch a ball onto the green and you ask the person who’s pitching next, ‘Do you want me to go mark that?’ That’s just the way it is. It happens.
“I’ve always asked, ‘Do you want it marked?’ I give that person the option. I was just trying to shed some light on how it actually happens out here and what actually happens. That’s it.”