Texas Open offers Masters insight
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 Valero Texas Open | Preview | 25 Mar 2014
The PGA Tour is in Texas for two weeks starting this week at the Valero Texas Open at the Greg Norman designed TPC San Antonio in San Antonio where it has been played since moving from the nearby La Cantera Golf Club in 2010.
With just this week’s event and next week’s Houston Open remaining before the Masters, players are timing their run into the first major of the year by playing this week, next week or not at all in the lead up.
Scot, Martin Laird, defends the title he won when coming from five shots off the 54 hole pace with a final round of 63 to defeat Rory McIlory by two shots.
Laird has not missed a cut in 2014 but neither has he been at his best and has slipped outside the top 100 in the world. Mind you his form is no worse than was the case when heading into this week’s event last year.
Laird also finished 9th in his second to last start in this event in 2011 so he has a liking for this layout.
Phil Mickelson heads the world ranked players in the event although he has played the tournament just once but never at this venue. Mickelson has not had a lot to get excited about this season other then when runner-up in Abu Dhabi but that aside there has been no other top ten in another five starts. He has been plagued with injury issues so appears too much of a risk to back despite his class.
Interestingly, despite being a two time winner of the event, Zach Johnson has not played here for three years since missing the cut in 2010. He has though made a great start to 2014 and although he has not been quite as sharp in recent weeks, as one of only two top ten players in the field and a two time winner he deserves serious consideration.
Charley Hoffman has a great record in this event and has begun to play well again of late. He has not won the Texas Open but he has been inside the top twenty in seven of his eight starts in the event and has been 3rd and 2nd at the TPC San Antonio.
Matt Kuchar has had reasonable finishes in his last two starts in this event and has generally been very good this season. He will be freshened after a break last week and should be a contender.
Jim Furyk appears to be on the verge of a good week and in his only start in this event in recent times he finished third behind Laird last year.
Freddie Jacobson has played really well in recent weeks and has a very good record at this venue having finished inside the top twenty in each of his last five starts at the Texas Open. He could well be the surprise packet.
Australians in the field include recent winner John Senden who will no doubt play this week then have next week’s Houston Open off before his tilt at the Masters. Senden has played this venue just once when 23rd three years ago.
Senden’s form around his recent victory has been average at best and it may be that he will be looking for a green paddock next week to recharge the batteries ahead of Augusta National.
Aaron Baddeley is a much better player than his current world ranking of 207 would suggest. He does enjoy a good record at TPC San Antonio with a 3rd and 15th placing in his last two starts. His form of late has hardly been great but this might be a week for him to improve.
Other Australians in the field are Greg Chalmers, Geoff Ogilvy, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Scott Gardiner, Steve Bowditch and Bronson La Cassie.