Valero Texas Open Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds, Storylines

Jordan Spieth Michael Grellar
Jordan Spieth speaks with his caddie Michael Grellar on the 11th tee during the second round of the 2019 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course on April 05, 2019 in San Antonio, TX. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour stays in the Lonestar State for the 90th edition of the Valero Texas Open – the final tune-up before the season’s first major at Augusta National.

The 28th event on the PGA Tour’s 2020-21 schedule, the Valero Texas Open is contested at TPC San Antonio, a Greg Norman-designed par-72, measuring 7,435 yards.

Due to its position on the schedule – sandwiched between a World Golf Championship and Major, the field in south Texas is fairly weak but will feature a pair of high-profile Texans in Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler.

Here are more details about this week’s PGA Tour stop in Texas.


Valero Texas Open

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The Skinny

Valero Texas Open
Dates: Apr. 2-5, 2021
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Course: TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Distance: Par 72, 7,435 yards
Architect: Greg Norman
Format: Stroke play, 72-holes
Field: 144 players, 36-Hole Cut
Purse: $7,700,000
Winning Share: $1,386,000
Defending Champion: Corey Conners


How to Follow

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 4-7 p.m. (GOLF); Sat: 1-3:30 p.m. (GOLF), 3:30-6 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 1-2:30 p.m. (GOLF), 2:30-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 8:15 a.m.-7 p.m. (Groups); Sat: 8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Groups), 3:30-6 p.m. (Holes); Sun: 8:15 a.m.–2:30 p.m. (Groups), 2:30-6 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video

PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 1-7 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Website | Leaderboard | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Valero Texas Open History

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson celebrates with is caddie after making a tournament winning birdie putt on the 18th green in a sudden death playoff during the final round of the 2009 PGA Tour Valero Texas Open at La Cantera Golf Club in San Antonio, Tx. (Photo by John Albright / Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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 Tour’s 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 90th time touring 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 was moved to TPC San Antonio, which early on proved to be 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. In fact, from 2011 – 2014, three of the four winners finished in single-digits under par.

The setup in San Antonio has generally become less penal over the past several years, culminating with 2019 winner, Corey Conners, finishing with the first 20 under (or better) since Armour’s aforementioned record setter nearly 20 years ago.

Over the years, the tournament has been contested at eight different venues with a who’s who of legendary names among its winners, including Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, 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, including Zach Johnson (2008-2009) – the only active player among the group.

History: Tournament Names

2002-21: Valero Texas Open
2001-01: Texas Open at La Cantera
2000-00: Westin Texas Open at La Cantera
1998-99: Westin Texas Open
1995-97: La Cantera Texas Open
1994-94: Texas Open
1990-93: H.E.B. Texas Open
1988-89: Texas Open
1996-96: Vantage Championship
1972-80: San Antonio Texas Open
1970-71: San Antonio Open Invitational
1956-69: Texas Open Invitational
1922-55: Texas Open

History: Recent Winners

2019: Corey Conners (-20)
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)

History: 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 Valero Texas Open Champion

Corey Conners
Corey Conners lines up a putt for birdie on the 1st green during the final round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on Apr 7, 2019 in San Antonio, TX. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Corey Conners shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to reach 20-under for the week, the lowest winning score since the event moved to the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio in 2010, but his scorecard was nowhere near as pristine as one would expect after such a low score.

Coming off a brutal six-start stretch where he had five missed cuts and a T41, the 27-year-old from Ontario put on an impressive display of resilience on Sunday at the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, jumping off to a large early lead, losing it, and then regaining it to pull off his first career victory, a two-shot win over 2016 Valero Texas Open Champion Charley Hoffman.

The Canadian finished his final day in Texas with four bogeys offset by 10 birdies to reach 20-under par, two clear of Charley Hoffman.

Making his feat even more impressive, Conners made the Valero Texas Open field as a Monday qualifier. This was the first time since 2010 that a Monday qualifier won any PGA Tour event.

Final Top-5 Finishers

Pos-Player-Score (Final Rd)
1. Corey Conners -20 (-6)
2. Charley Hoffman -18 (-4)
3. Ryan Moore -17 (-8)
4. Si Woo Kim -15 (E)
4. Brian Stuard -15 (-6)


Valero Texas Open Storylines

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler waits on the 11th tee with his caddie Joe Skovron during the second round of the 2019 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course on April 05, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

1. Last Chance for Rickie Fowler: The popular Fowler hasn’t won since the 2019 Phoneix Open, and is in real danger of missing his first Masters since 2010. His only way to punch his ticket to Augusta is to win in Texas. Fowler was once the best player without a major, but may now be the biggest name not to make the Masters.

2. Can Jordan Spieth Finally Bust Drought: Is this the tournament that finally gets Spieth to the winner’s circle, and breaks a nearly four-year long victory drought? The trend is clearly there. In his last six starts, the three-time major winner has posted five top-15s, including four top-10s and three top-5s. His only poor start was a T48 at The PLAYERS.

3. Scottie Scheffler’s Second Attempt on Home Soil : The 24-year old Texan came up a couple holes short last week in Austin, but Scheffler will give it one more try on home soil to score his maiden PGA Tour win.


Valero Texas Open Field

Jordan Spieth Valero Texas Open
Jordan Spieth plays his second shot on the 11th during Round One of the Valero Texas Open at the Oaks Course on Mar 27, 2014 in San Antonio, TX (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

The field in San Antonio will be headlined by Texas native Jordan Spieth who will seek to bust out of his nearly four-year winning drought – on home soil, no less. Spieth is playing the best golf since the early part of 2018. He enters off four recent top 10s including three top-5s.

In four career starts at the Valero, Spieth owns a runner-up (2015), top-10 (2014), T30 (2019), and missed cut (2013).

The three-time major winner will be joined by fellow Texan Scottie Scheffler who enters off a runner-up in Austin at the WGC-Dell match Play.

A third Lonestar state product is Ryan Palmer who is playing maybe the best golf of his career at 44. The Amarillo, Texas native played on a medical extension in 2018, but since mid to late 2019 has played brilliantly, including into the 2021 season, where he owns three top-5 finishes, and three additional top-20s, in just 11 starts.

Tony Finau
Tony Finau prepares to tee off on the sixth tee during the third round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course on April 22, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

The highest ranked player in the field is Tony Finau (No. 13), who is enjoying another typical Tony Finau season with three runner-ups and a few more top 10s.

Another marquee name is Rickie Fowler who is in a career tailspin that has seen his world ranking fall to 94. For the first time in his career, Fowler failed to qualify for last week’s Match Play, and will need a win this week to avoid missing the Masters for the first time since 2010.

Corey Conners will return to defend, and will do so in solid form. The Canadian enters off a solo 7th- and 3rd-place in his two most recent stroke-play starts (7th PLAYERS, 3rd Bay Hill).

Abraham Ancer, Hideki Matsuyama and Charley Hoffman (the 2016 Valero winner) are among the top-10 betting favorites.

Other names to keep an eye on include Joel Dahmen, who enters off a win at Corales; Danny Willett (T8, Corales); and Sam Ryder who scored a backdoor T2 last week in the Dominican – his second-straight top 10 (T8 Honda).

Top-10 Betting Favorites
1. Jordan Spieth (10-1)
2. Tony Finau (16-1)
3. Scottie Scheffler (18-1)
4. Abraham Ancer (20-1)
5. Hideki Matsuyama (22-1)
6. Corey Conners (25-1)
7. Charley Hoffman (28-1)
7. Ryan Palmer (28-1)
9. Brendan Steele (33-1)
9. Cameron Tringale (33-1)

How the Field Qualified for the Valero Texas Open

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Winner – PGA/U.S. Open Championship
Jordan Spieth
Jimmy Walker
Gary Woodland

Winner – THE PLAYERS Championship
Rickie Fowler
Si Woo Kim

Winner – The Masters
Danny Willett

Winner – The Open Championship
Zach Johnson
Henrik Stenson

Winner – World Golf Championship Event
Hideki Matsuyama
Phil Mickelson

Winners of the Arnold Palmer, Memorial, Genesis (Last 3 Years)
Jason Dufner

Tournament Winner in Past Two Seasons
Ryan Armour
Keegan Bradley
Cameron Champ
Corey Conners
Austin Cook
Tyler Duncan
Brice Garnett
Brian Gay
Branden Grace
Lanto Griffin
J.B. Holmes
Charles Howell III
Sung Kang
Michael Kim
Patton Kizzire
Russell Knox
Satoshi Kodaira
Matt Kuchar
Martin Laird
Andrew Landry
Nate Lashley
Adam Long
Graeme McDowell
Troy Merritt
Keith Mitchell
Sebastián Muñoz
Ryan Palmer
Pat Perez
Ted Potter, Jr.
Andrew Putnam
Brandt Snedeker
Brendan Steele
Nick Taylor
Martin Trainer
Aaron Wise

Career Money Exemption
K.J. Choi
Luke Donald
Jim Furyk
Jerry Kelly
Hunter Mahan
Bo Van Pelt

Sponsor Exemptions (2018-19 FedExCup / 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Category)
Matt Wallace

Sponsors Exemptions – Members not otherwise exempt
Padraig Harrington
Camilo Villegas

Sponsors Exemptions – Unrestricted
Sam Bennett
Akshay Bhatia
Austin Eckroat
McClure Meissner

Designated Sponsor Exemptions
Bernd Wiesberger

PGA Section Champion\Player of the Year
Carlos Sainz Jr

Past Champion of Respective Event
Kevin Chappell
Charley Hoffman

Life Member
Davis Love III

Top 125 on Prior Season’s FedExCup Points List
Scottie Scheffler
Tony Finau
Abraham Ancer
Byeong Hun An
Brian Harman
Joel Dahmen
Danny Lee
Tom Hoge
Adam Hadwin
Harry Higgs
Robby Shelton
Maverick McNealy
Doc Redman
Denny McCarthy
Henrik Norlander
Xinjun Zhang
Sepp Straka
Harold Varner III
Cameron Tringale
Cameron Davis
Vaughn Taylor
Patrick Rodgers
Brian Stuard
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Scott Harrington
Matthew NeSmith
Ryan Moore
Sam Ryder
Adam Schenk
Sam Burns
Scott Brown
Beau Hossler
Lucas Glover
Luke List
Scott Stallings
Rory Sabbatini
Tom Lewis
Bo Hoag

Top 125 (Prior Season Nonmember)
William Gordon
Erik van Rooyen

Major Medical Extension
Chris Kirk
Charl Schwartzel
Kevin Stadler
Sean O’Hair
Wesley Bryan
John Huh
Seung-Yul Noh
Kelly Kraft
D.A. Points

2018-19 Top 125 FedExCup/2019 Top Finishers Korn Ferry Tour (reordered)
Peter Malnati
Doug Ghim
Kyle Stanley
Kramer Hickok
Anirban Lahiri
Cameron Percy
Kristoffer Ventura
Michael Gligic
David Hearn
Chesson Hadley
Hank Lebioda
Chase Seiffert
Roger Sloan
Vincent Whaley
Bronson Burgoon
Rob Oppenheim
Joseph Bramlett
J.J. Spaun
Sebastian Cappelen
D.J. Trahan
Jhonattan Vegas
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Brandon Hagy
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Rhein Gibson


Up Next On Tour

The first major of the season is up next, as all eyes will focus on Augusta National for the 2022 edition of the Masters Tournament.

Credit: Getty Images/Andrew Redington

Carey Hoffman and Paul Daly contributed to this preview.



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