Valero Texas Open: The race to The Masters

Rory McIlroy returns to action and Jordan Spieth is back as defending champion at the Valero Texas Open, along with several big names hoping to secure a last-minute invite to The Masters.

McIlroy will be making his first appearance at this Masters dress-rehearsal since 2013 when he finished second behind Martin Laird. After not playing at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last week, he’ll be hoping to re-discover his best form in preparation for the one major he is yet to win.

Spieth returns to his home state to defend the title he won last year when he pipped two-time runner-up Charley Hoffman, also back this weekend, by two strokes, while Bryson DeChambeau is set to continue his recovery from a wrist injury with his second appearance in as many weeks.

Corey Conners won this event in 2019 and could be one to watch after he finished third at the WGC Match Play last week. Champion there, and new world number one, Scottie Scheffler is taking a rest, while reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama could make it three wins on the PGA Tour this season.

Who’s in the race to Augusta?

Earlier this week five players were added to the Masters field due their world ranking, taking the number of players scheduled to compete at Augusta National to 91.

There are however plenty of big names yet to earn their invitation, with the only remaining way to qualify for the first major of the season is by winning the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio this weekend.

England’s Richard Bland is the highest-ranked player (53) in action not yet to secure a Masters place, with the 49-year-old just missing out on breaking into the world’s top 50 despite making it to the round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last week.

Former world number four Rickie Fowler, currently ranked way down at 130, could miss out for a second successive time having not won a PGA Tour event since 2019, while 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley also needs a win in Texas to make it to Georgia.

Ian Poulter could fail to qualify for just the third time since his debut in 2004 if he fails to win in Texas, while new Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson could miss out for the first time since 2006, after his five-year exemption for winning The Open in 2016 expired last season.

Groups to look out for

Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar

Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Luke List

Jordan Spieth, Corey Conners, Charley Hoffman

Hideki Matsuyama, Hudson Swafford, Chad Rame

TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course), Texas

This Greg Norman design is quite long with Bermuda grass greens, while plentiful oak trees (from which the course gets its name) need to be navigated to make successful green approaches. Spieth’s winning total of 18-under last year was around what was expected for the winning score.

The fairways are not too tricky to hit, but the rough is penal, making strategy off the tee a requirement. It looks like it’s going to be hot and sunny, so the course will be energy sapping and it remains to be seen who can handle the heat.

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Niamul Anan
1 year ago

One of the most unique posts regarding this topic. Thanks for sharing with us!

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