The PGA Tour heads to the “Lone Star State” this week for the Valero Texas Open. Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at TPC San Antonio.

Lowdown:
The PGA Tour heads to the “Lone Star State” this week for the Valero Texas Open. Steven Bowditch is the defending champion at TPC San Antonio.

Dating back to 1922, the Texas Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA Tour, with past winners including: Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino.

Last year Steven Bowditch held on in windy conditions to claim his first PGA Tour victory. Despite closing with a 76, the Australian outlasted Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays by a single shot.

The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and Pete Dye. Opened for play in 2010, it’s a natural-looking layout with huge bunkers and sprawling greens, many of the fairways framed by stands of mature oaks giving the course its name.

It’s one of the more testing courses visited by the PGA Tour. Last year the scoring average was 73.286 – only three par 72 layouts on the circuit were tougher through the 2013-14 season.

Scotland’s Marc Warren will be desperately keen to record a good finish at TPC San Antonio. He’s currently 51st on the Official World Golf Ranking and, if he can climb a place by the end of this tournament, he’ll earn an invitation to The Masters. Harris English, currently 52nd on the ranking, is in a similar situation.

The weather forecast for the week suggests wind could be a factor again this year. Sustained winds of over 20mph are expected. And, as they’re predicted to come from the north, it could be rather chilly too.

Venue: JW Marriott, TPC San Antonio, Texas
Date: Mar 26-29
Course stats: par 72, 7,435 yards
Purse: $6,200,000 Winner: $1,116,000
Defending Champion: Steven Bowditch (-8)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Friday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Saturday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30pm

Player Watch:
Kevin Na – He has three straight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and was tied 11th in this event last year.

Ryan Palmer – One of the PGA Tour’s most solid performers in 2015, he has six top-25 finishes so far this season. It’s about time he scored a victory.

Jason Kokrak – Tied seventh and tied sixth in his last two starts, he’s clearly on form right now. He also has a steady record in the Valero Texas Open.

Key hole: The par 5s. The shortest on the course is the 14th at 567 yards so, depending on the wind, any of them could play as a three-shotter. The longer hitters will have a distinct advantage on these holes.

Skills required: Finding fairways. At 7,435 yards, you’d think length was the most important factor at TPC San Antonio. But, with bunkers and huge trees lining the fairways, driving the ball straight is also essential.