Charley Hoffman defends his Valero Texas Open title this week against a strong field that includes former winners Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson, on-form Luke Donald and the ever-consistent Matt Kuchar.
Charley Hoffman is aiming to become the third player since 2000 to win this event in back-to-back seasons. Justin Leonard managed it in 2000 and 2001 and Zach Johnson was the winner in 2008 and 2009.
This is an important week for Ian Poulter. The Englishman is playing on a medical exemption and he needs to earn some $33,000 from this event to secure his PGA Tour playing rights for the rest of this year. He nearly did enough last week in the RBC Heritage but faded in the last round, the pressure will be on Poulter to make the cut in San Antonio.
Curtis Luck makes his professional debut this week after playing all four rounds at The Masters two weeks ago.
Dating back to 1922, the Texas Open is one of the oldest tournaments on the PGA Tour, past winners including: Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino. Last year, Charley Hoffman held off Patrick Reed to win by a single shot
The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman with input from Sergio Garcia. Opened for play in 2010, it’s a natural-looking layout with huge bunkers and sprawling greens. Many of the fairways are framed by stands of mature oaks giving the course its name. The wind can play an important role here. Last year, the breezes were relatively light and scoring was lower than normal. But when it gusts, things can get really tough.
Even without the wind, it’s one of the more testing courses visited by the PGA Tour with narrow fairways skirted with bushes. Back in 2011, Kevin Na made a 16 on the par-4 9th hole. He had so many swipes at the ball in the scrub that he lost count and had to consult with playing partners and the TV to work out what to write on the card.
The weather forecast contains a mixed bag: Things should start fine enough but the wind is expected to pick up with the threat of rain and thunderstorms; A delay to play could well be on the cards at some stage.
Venue: TPC San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
Date: April 20-23
Course stats: par 72, 7,435 yards
Purse: $6,200,000 Winner: $1,116,000
Defending Champion: Charley Hoffman (-12)
Thursday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Friday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30pm
Saturday 22 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm
Sunday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Charley Hoffman – Difficult to look past the defending champion at a course he excels on.
Branden Grace – He played well in his defence of the RBC Heritage last week and he was tied ninth in this event last year.
Matt Kuchar – Playing well with strong Sunday finishes at Augusta and Harbour Town. He has three top-15 finishes at TPC San Antonio in the last five years.
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.