Pro Golf Weekly

Primer: 2018 Valero Texas Open

Sergio Garcia returns to a course he helped design, Charley Hoffman comes back to a course he owns, and Kevin Chappell revisits a course he will never forget when the Valero Texas Open moves into the spotlight as this week’s stop for the PGA Tour.

Credit: Valero Texas Open Media

Garcia, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 10 in the world, was a player consultant to architect Greg Norman when he was designing the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, but he has not played in the event since an appearance in the course’s debut year of 2010.

Hoffman, meanwhile, has played in this event for the last 12 years, and has never missed a cut. In 10 of those starts, he’s posted a top-15 finish, which includes a victory in 2016, a tie for second in 2011 and a tie for third in 2013. If you read that as an indicator that he loves this course, you would be right — since the event moved to the Oaks Course in 2010, Hoffman has played it in an aggregate 41-under par.

Chappell had made 180 career starts coming into last year’s Valero Texas Open without a tour victory. He showed a winner’s resolve, however, on Sunday, a day that started with 25 players within five strokes of the lead he held at 8-under par.

Chappell mustered a must-have birdie at the par-5 18th hole to reach 12-under par and finally taste victory, edging Brooks Koepka by one stroke.

As we do each week, here are additional details to help you enjoy this weekend’s golf.


THE SKINNY

Tournament: Valero Texas Open
Dates: April 19-22, 2018
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
Purse: $6,200,000
Winning Share: $1,116,000
Defending Champion: Kevin Chappell
Marquee Players: Chappell, Sergio Garcia, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walkler, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Beau Hossler, Jhonattan Vegas


TV AND ONLINE

Round 1: Thu 3:30-6:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 3:30-6:30 pm (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Round 4: Sun 1-2:45 pm (GOLF), 3-6:00 pm (CBS)
Web | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Wikipedia | Bovada


HISTORY

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.

Credit: Getty Images/Steve Dykes

This week’s event will be the 88th 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.

TOURNAMENT NAMES

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

RECENT WINNERS

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)

TOURNAMENT RECORDS

SCORING:
Low Score: 254 Tommy Armour III (2003)
Under-Par: -27 Mike Souchak (1955)
Margin of Victory: 8 strokes Corey Pavin (1988)
WINS:
3 – Justin Leonard (2000-01, 2007), Arnold Palmer (1960-62)


DEFENDING CHAMPION

Kevin Chappell had become an expert on finishing runner-up. He had done it six times in his 180-start career, with four of those coming in 2016. He finally broke through in San Antonio in 2017.

Starting the day with a one-stroke lead, Chappell was grouped with two players (Branden Grace and John Huh) who played awful, but Chappell was able to stay composed and play his own game.

Credit: Getty Images

With a 4-under 68, Chappell stared down furious rallies from a suddenly-upstart Brooks Koepka and young bomber Tony Finau to finish at -12 and win the Valero Texas Open by one stroke, the first victory of his seven-year PGA Tour career. The margin of victory came at the 72nd hole, where Chappell made an eight-foot birdie putt to become a PGA Tour winner for the first time.

FINAL TOP 5

1 Kevin Chappell -12
2 Brooks Koepka -11
3 Kevin Tway -9
3 Tony Finau -9
5 Aaron Baddeley -8


THE FIELD

Nine former winners of the Valero Texas Open are in the field this week, and several of them will be popular choices as favorites for this year’s championship.

Defending champ Kevin Chappell is off to only a so-so start in 2018, currently ranking No. 52 in the FedEx Cup standings. He has posted three top 10 finishes since the start of the year, but comes to San Antonio having missed the cut in his last two events, The Masters and the RBC Heritage.

Credit: Getty Images

It’s also been a mixed bag for 2016 champ Charley Hoffman, who stands 82nd in the FedEx Cup rankings. His recent form has been better, with top 25 finishes in four of his last six starts, highlighted by a tie for 12th two weeks ago at The Masters. Whenever this week arrives, however, he has to be given consideration, given his record of never missing a cut in 12 previous Valero Texas Open appearances, including 10 finishes inside the top 15.

Going back one more year to the 2015 champion, Jimmy Walker, here’s another player who could be a factor. The Texas native has battled health issues the past couple of years, but had his highest finish since 2016 in February when he posted a tie for 8th place at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He last played two weeks ago at The Masters, finishing in a tie for 20th place.

Brendan Steele (2011), Adam Scott (2010) and Zach Johnson (2008-09) are also former winners who could emerge as factors.

World No. 10 Sergio Garcia will be playing on a course he helped Greg Norman design for only the second time, the first since its debut in this event in 2010. Garcia had been in a very solid stretch, with three straight top-10 finishes before heading to The Masters as defending champ two weeks ago. His struggles there this year were well-documented, so it will be interesting to see how he responds after a week away from competition.

Credit: Getty Images

The next highest-ranked player in the field, world No. 21 Matt Kuchar, has been quietly playing very well, having played each of the last four weeks, with two top 10s (WGC-Match Play, Houston Open) followed by two top 30 showings (The Masters, RBC Heritage.) Like Hoffman, he has never missed a cut in his previous appearances in this event.

Finally, if you’re looking for golfers in the field who are showing some heat, keep your eyes on Si Woo Kim, Luke List and Billy Horschel. Kim made it to a playoff last week at Harbour Town before faltering to finish second. List jumped nine spots in the FedEx Cup rankings to 11th after a tie for third last week, and has made the top 20 five times in his last nine starts. Horschel’s tie for fifth at Harbour Town was his best showing since last June, but he’s shown his comfort level in the past in San Antonio, having placed in the top five three times over the last five years.


STORYLINES

1. CHAPPELL DEFENDS
Kevin Chappell’s victory at last year’s Valero Texas Open, where he had a one-stroke lead through 54 holes and held off strong rallies from Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau on Sunday’s back nine, was more than an enormous relief to the then 30-year-old UCLA product.

2. SERGIO SET TO PLAY
Sergio Garcia may be from Spain, but he has often professed his love of the state of Texas. He has had great success on Texan courses, spends a great amount of his time in Austin, and his wife, Angela, is a diehard Longhorn fan, having played college golf at the University of Texas.

3. CAN SI WOO KIM REBOUND?
Sergio Garcia is not the only player in the Valero Texas Open field hoping to forget something that happened recently. Reigning PLAYERS Champion Si Woo Kim appeared to have last week’s PGA tournament, the RBC Heritage, in hand late on Sunday, a win which would have been the third of the 22-year-old’s career.

4. TEXAS TIES
As Texas-based events seem to do so well, the Valero Texas Open draws a lot of Tour pros with ties to the state, making them among the more popular players for the crowds in San Antonio.

5. NIEMANN’S PRO DEBUT
One of the most talented amateur players in some time, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann is making the Valero Texas Open his professional debut.

Read all five storylines for the Valero Texas Open (by Joel Cook).


Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images


Carey Hoffman

Carey Hoffman is a Content Editor for Pro Golf Weekly. A former golf writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, his love of golf for 40 years has only once been rewarded with a sub-80 round.

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