Valero Texas Open
TPC San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
TPC San Antonio
Yards: 7,435 per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bermudagass over-seeded with Velvet Bentgrass and Poa trivialis; 6,400 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 2”; Native wild grasses are also in play.
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: Greg Norman (2009)
Winner’s Share: $1,116,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Martin Laird fired a bogey-free, course record 63 on Sunday to defeat Rory McIlroy by two shots.
Dates: March 27-30
Format: Stroke play
Notes: As of Monday afternoon just 10 of the top 50 players in the OWGR rankings are entered this week.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 17 of 19 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and Matt Every have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. John Senden joined Jason Day last week as only Australia is representing the rest of the world.
Matt Every joins Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year. Sadly for gamers, Every withdrew on Monday morning.
Walker (three wins) and Patrick Reed (two) are the only two players on TOUR with multiple victories this season.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every turned 30 last December so he has been “bumped” up to the Prime Time crew. They sit just one victory behind the Young Guns for bragging rights.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. That’s nine wins from 19 events this year from the up-and-comers!
The Old Guys couldn’t fire up after seeing John Senden’s victory at Tampa. The man that time forgot, Vijay Singh, 52, found time to rattle off a T20 last week to pace the old folks. #ballstriker
Pay Attention: It’s FREE
This tournament reeks of history as it’s the longest running tournament held in the same city, San Antonio, on TOUR.
This is the third oldest event on TOUR as the first event was held in 1922.
Please remember that TPC San Antonio was made the host course in 2010 after its completion in 2009. Any “horse-for-course” history should come from a course that’s no longer in play.
2010 Adam Scott 274 (-14)
2011 Brendan Steele 280 (-8)
2012 Ben Curtis 279 (-9)
2013 Martin Laird 274 (-14)
Adam Scott is not in the field this week.
Martin Laird (2013, round 4) and Matt Every (2012, round 1) share the course record with 63.
Laird and Scott share the tournament record here on 14-under-par, 274.
Only Brendan Steele has broken his maiden on this track. It remains his only victory on TOUR.
Scott, Steele and Curtis all won on their first rodeo around the Oaks Course. Yes, this was their first rodeo.
Last year, this event was held the week before the Masters because of a conflict with the Easter holiday. This year, the Shell Houston Open resumes its position as the tune up for the Masters.
Only four players over the years have defended their title at this event. None of them repeated on TPC San Antonio.
Inside the Ropes
Here’s where the Valero Texas Open has ranked, relative to par, since moving to TPC San Antonio:
2013: 15th-most difficult; +.740 above par
2012: fourth-most difficult; +1.989 (hardest par 72, non-major on TOUR)
2011: seventh-most difficult; +1.665 (hardest par 72 on TOUR)
2010: 17th-most difficult; +.353
For the FIFTH week in a row, the TOUR stops at another difficult track as the best players in the world take their fifth look at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. Opened in 2009 and available for play in 2010, the Oaks Course was collaboration between designer Greg Norman and current player Sergio Garcia. As shown above, this has routinely checked in as one of the most difficult tracks on TOUR.
Even though San Antonio is considered Hill Country the Oaks Course is rather flat. Only 100 feet separates the highest and lowest points on the layout. The difficulty in this course is multiple: Tree-lined fairways force players to keep the ball in play or pay the price in native areas. The bunkering is far from the pristine white sands of Florida as the traps are more natural and rugged. It’s weird seeing bunkers that are actually penal! Finally, anytime that golf is played in Texas, the wind will be an issue. The Oaks Course is designed with prevailing winds in mind but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, the longer hitters will be favorites. Norman did leave some space for the non-bomber as most all holes are not forced carry and the short, accurate hitter is rewarded for hitting fairways and greens.
As we have seen by former winners, length and power never hurts but Ben Curtis, John Huh and Matt Every don’t exactly scream LONG HITTERS and they have also had successes here. The formula this week is quite simple and quite similar to last week: Eliminate big numbers and take advantage of the par fives. John Huh only made ONE bogey in his final three rounds here in 2012 so there are definitely multiple ways to attack this track.