Everything you need to know about the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio- AT&T Oaks.
After weather pushed the final round of the RBC Heritage up four hours last week—a scenario that led to a tape-delayed Sunday CBS broadcast and scores of frustrated fans—the PGA Tour moves back into Texas for the third time this year.
This week's stop is the Valero Texas Open at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. It's one of the Tour's oldest tournaments, as the Texas Open has been held in some form since 1922. This, however, is the final year the Valero will be played in its current slot (after the RBC Heritage, before the Zurich Classic of New Orleans), as the tournament will replace the Houston Open as the event immediately preceding the Masters beginning next season.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of Thursday's opening round.
The past champions
Kevin Chappell (-12) picked up his first PGA Tour victory last year when he birdied the 72nd hole to beat Brooks Koepka by a single stroke. Two of the longest hitters on Tour, Tony Finau and Kevin Tway finished tied for third at -9. Chappell's 12-under winning score was consistent with the kind of scoring we've seen at TPC San Antonio in recent years—the winning score has been between -8 and -14 in each of the past eight Valero Texas Opens.
Chappell comes into this year's tournament having missed two cuts in a row, though he does have three top 10s on the season (Bay Hill, Pebble Beach and the CareerBuilder Challenge), while Koepka remains out with the wrist injury that caused him to miss the Masters.
Other recent winners of this tournament: Charley Hoffman (2016), Jimmy Walker (2015), Steven Bowditch (2014), Martin Laird (2013), Ben Curtis (2012).
While there are a couple big-time players teeing it up this week—Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott are probably the three most recognizable names to casual golf fans—this is one of the weaker non-Fall Series fields of the season. Luke List is the highest-ranked player in the FedEx Cup standings in the field at No. 11, and Garcia is the only participant ranked in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
The reason for the relatively weak field? It's mainly just where the tournament falls on the PGA Tour schedule. Most of the top guys plan to take a few weeks off after the Masters to re-charge the batteries before the summer grind. The course also isn't one of the players' favorites, but more on that later.
One guy to keep an eye on this week is 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann from Chile. Niemann is making his professional debut after spending the last 11 months atop the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He apparently was waiting to turn pro until after the Masters, though he missed the cut at Augusta.
Some notable guys who are in the field this week: Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Si Woo Kim (fresh off his playoff loss at the Heritage), Pat Perez, Xander Schauffele, Keegan Bradley, Jhonattan Vegas, Ernie Els, Shubhankar Sharma.
Full tee times can be seen here.
The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio opened in 2010 and is designed by two-time major champion Greg Norman with consultation from Sergio Garcia (despite playing a part in designing the course, Garcia has not played in the Texas Open since 2010). It's a par-72, 7,435-yard course that sits roughly 1,000 feet above sea level, which is just high enough to force players to re-assess their yardages for the week. The entirety of the course is made up of different variations of Bermuda grass, and as the name suggests, the course winds through dense forests of Oak trees. The signature hole is the par-3 16th, which features a big ol' bunker right in the middle of the putting surface.
The course—mainly, the undulating greens—has drawn some less-than-positive reviews from PGA Tour players. TPC San Antonio checked in at No. 3 on Golf Digest's Players' Picks: The 10 Worst Tour Courses. Protected by the veil of confidentiality, the players didn't hold back in their assessment of Norman's design: "A complete disaster," one called it. Another: "The greens need to be blown up."
Sergio Garcia +1400
Charley Hoffman +1800
Luke List +1800
Matt Kuchar +1800
Adam Scott +2500
Kevin Chappell +2500
Ryan Moore +2500
Xander Schauffele +2500
Billy Horschel +3000
Beau Hossler +3300
Brendan Steele +3300
Ollie Schniederjans +3300
Brandt Snedeker +3500
Chesson Hadley +3500
Jimmy Walker +4000
Julian Suri +4000
Pat Perez +4000
Si Woo Kim +4000
Zach Johnson +4000
Ryan Palmer +4500
No surprise to see Garcia as the favorite, as he's the highest ranked player in the field by a decently wide margin...Vegas continues to list Ollie Schneiderjans among the top 20 favorites to win a tournament despite the fact that he hasn't finished better than t41 since the first week of February...Snedeker seems like good value at 35-1... Niemann, for those concerned, is +30000 or 300-1.
My pick last week, Marc Leishman, didn't make the cut. That's always fun, when the guy you pick to hoist the trophy doesn't even make the weekend.
That means we're due for a bounce-back this week. I hate to cherry pick one of the favorites, but I keep coming back to Charley Hoffman this week. He won this event in 2016 and has two other top 3s in San Antonio since 2011. And while he's yet to post a top 10 so far this season, he's coming off two solid-enough weeks at the Masters (t11) and RBC Heritage (t23). Hoffman will be a popular pick this week, and for good reason. He picks up PGA Tour win number five.