The PGA Tour stays in the Lonestar State for the 89th annual Valero Texas Open – the final tuneup before the season’s first major at Augusta National.
The 24th event on the PGA Tour’s 2018-19 schedule, the Valero Texas Open is contested at TPC San Antonio, a Greg Norman-designed par-72, measuring 7,435 yards.
Headlined by 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup stars Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar, and Jordan Spieth, the field in south Texas is fairly weak with just 10 players ranked inside the world top 50, half (five) of which are ranked from Nos. 40-50.
Here are more details about this week’s PGA Tour stop.
Tournament: Valero Texas Open
Dates: April 4-7, 2019
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Course: TPC San Antonio — AT&T Oaks Course
Distance: Par 72, 7,435 yards
Architect: Greg Norman
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Andrew Landry
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Casual fans may not realize it, but the Valero Texas Open has one of the most extensive histories on the PGA Tour. As the third oldest tournament on the pro schedule, the sixth oldest worldwide, and the oldest tournament where every edition has been played in the same city, the Valero Texas Open has a rich tradition of hosting elite-level golf.
This week’s event will be the 89th time the pros have teed it up in San Antonio since 1922. For much of its history, the tournament had a reputation for surrendering exceptionally low scores, evidenced most by Mike Souchak’s winning total of 27-under par in 1955 and Tommy Armour III’s record-setting 254 (64-63-62-65) in 2003, a Tour record that stood until Justin Thomas broke it in 2017 in Hawaii.
However, as the tournament has started to award larger purses, it has been played at TPC San Antonio, a much tougher test. How tough? Ask Kevin Na, who shot a 12-over 16 on ONE HOLE in the 2011 edition. That may be an extreme outlier, but in 2012, one of the runner-ups had a round of 77 on their card, and three of the past seven winners have finished single-digits under par.
Over the years, the tournament has been played at eight different venues and had a lot of notable winners, including Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw, and Lee Trevino. Palmer and Justin Leonard have the most Valero victories, with three a piece. Seven other golfers have won twice, with Zach Johnson (2008-2009) the only one who is still an active player.
Since 2010, the tournament host has been the TPC San Antonio — AT&T Oaks Course, a Greg Norman design with help from Sergio Garcia. Adam Scott has been the most notable winner since the move to TPC San Antonio, although Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Reed have all finished as runners-up.
2002-18: Valero Texas Open
2001: Texas Open at La Cantera
2000: Westin Texas Open at La Cantera
1998-99: Westin Texas Open
1995-97: La Cantera Texas Open
1994: Texas Open
1990-93: H.E.B. Texas Open
1988-89: Texas Open
1996: Vantage Championship
1972-1980: San Antonio Texas Open
1970: San Antonio Open Invitational
1956-69: Texas Open Invitational
1922-55: Texas Open
2018: Andrew Landry (-17)
2017: Kevin Chappell (-12)
2016: Charley Hoffman (-12)
2015: Jimmy Walker (-11)
2014: Steven Bowditch (-8)
2013: Martin Laird (-14)
2012: Ben Curtis (-9)
2011: Brendan Steele (-8)
Low Score: 254 Tommy Armour III (2003)
Under-Par: -27 Mike Souchak (1955)
Margin of Victory: 8 strokes Corey Pavin (1988)
3 – Justin Leonard (2000-01, 2007), Arnold Palmer (1960-62)
The Texas swing of the PGA Tour netted another victory for a Texas Native. Andrew Landry, a Texas-born pro who had to play his college golf at Arkansas, landed in the winner’s circle for the first time, after the 54-hole co-leader shot a final round 4-under 68 to reach 17-under for the week.
Landry, who many golf fans remember from his remarkable push out of nowhere at the 2016 U.S. Open, now has a trophy to add to his hype.
With just one Sunday bogey after a birdie-birdie-birdie start, the 30-year-old Landry was out front all day, finishing two strokes ahead of Sean O’Hair and course record-holder Trey Mullinax.
FINAL TOP 5
1. Andrew Landry -17
2. Trey Mullinax -15
2. Sean O’Hair -15
4. Jimmy Walker -14
5. Zach Johnson -13
1. Rickie Tunes Up: The popular Fowler won for the first time in over two years in Phoneix, but since then he’s struggled – posting finishes of T47 and T40. Fowler is the best player without a major, and would love nothing more than to be sporting a Green Jacket over his orange shirt. Prep for Augusta starts this week in San Antonio.
2. Can Spieth Recover: Is this the tournament that gets Spieth out of his year long slump? You would think you’d see a trend where he posts a couple of respectable finishes before declaring he’s ready, but you never know. He is Jordan Spieth after all. I mean, who the heck knows what the deal is with the three-time major winner. It’s hard to say.
3. Texas College Stars: Some 19 players will be teeing it up who attended college in Texas. The Longhorns’ contingent leads the way with seven players, including Spieth and Jhonattan Vegas. Lamar University is next with three (Justin Harding, Shawn Stefani, and Chris Stroud), while Baylor has two former stars teeing it up in Kyle Jones and Jimmy Walker.
THE FIELD: ANALYSIS
The field in San Antonio is headlined by just four players ranked inside the world top 35, including superstars Rickie Fowler (No. 9) and Jordan Spieth (No. 32).
Leading the way is world No. 9 Fowler, who, in his five most recent starts, owns a win and runner-up, but has posted poor results in his last two appearances.
Fowler will attempt a reset, and tuneup for the Masters, in what is his first appearance since a T47 at the PLAYERS.
At No. 32 in the World Rankings, Spieth is in the midst of a stunning slump that has seen the former all-world superstar become something of an afterthought during tournament coverage.
Despite not getting out of the group play in Austin, the T24 was Spieth’s best finish of the season. It’s hard to know what is going on with the three-time major winner, as the struggle has nothing to do with an injury, and seems more psychological.
In three career starts at the Valero, Spieth owns a runner-up (2015), top-10 (2014), and missed cut (2013).
Nos. 15 and 16, respectively, Finau and Kuchar, are the only other players ranked in the top-35.
Kooch enters off a runner-up at last week’s match play event in Austin, while Finau has cooled off considerably in 2019, and is in search of his first top-10 of the calendar year.
Other names include Billy Horschel, J.B. Holmes, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker, Haotong Li, and last week’s Tiger tamer, Lucas Bjerregaard.
THE FIELD: ODDS & RANKINGS
The first major of the season is up next, as all eyes will focus on Augusta National for the 2019 edition of the Masters Tournament.
Carey Hoffman and Joel Cook contributed to this preview.
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images