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Lee Elder
Lee Elder (1976)
The Woodlands CC
Valero Texas Open - October 06, 2008

LaCantera Golf Club (Resort)

San Antonio, TX
Par: 35-35—70Yards: 6,881
Purse: $4,500,000Winner: $810,000
2007 Champion: Justin Leonard (261, -19)

Justin Leonard, a candidate for 2008 PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year, will try to become the first player in tournament history to win the Valero Texas Open four times when he defends his title this week. Leonard and Arnold Palmer are the only players to win this event three times. This is Leonard’s first PGA TOUR start since he played in TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, the final event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.

This season, Leonard is 10th on the money list, with $3,963,661, a career high for earnings. He finished eighth in the FedExCup and is currently ranked 22nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Valero Texas Open is one of the oldest stops on the PGA TOUR and is the third of seven Falls Series events on the 2008 PGA TOUR schedule.

Valero Texas Open Notes

Beginning in 2009, the Valero Texas Open will be played in May and be included in the PGA TOUR’s Regular Season. For the last two years, the tournament has been part of the TOUR’s Fall Series.

The Valero Texas Open again set the mark for the most money given to charity in 2007 with $8.4 million raised. The tournament has surpassed $33 million in contributions since its inception. Golf San Antonio, which organizes the Valero Texas Open, raises charitable dollars through its pro-am events, the Birdies for Charity program and the Chip In for Schools program that allows schools to sell discounted tournament tickets and keep all the proceeds.

Justin Leonard won his third Valero Texas Open last year, joining World Golf Hall of Fame member Arnold Palmer (1960-62) as the only players with that distinction. Leonard first won the tournament in 2000 and successfully defended his title in 2001. His win a year ago came in a playoff over Jesper Parnevik. Six other players have multiple victories in the tournament’s history. The others: Bill Mehlhorn (1927-28), Dutch Harrison (1939, 1951), Sam Snead (1948, 1950), Ben Crenshaw (1973, 1986), Jay Haas (1982, 1993) and Duffy Waldorf (1995, 1999).

Justin Leonard is one of three players to have successfully defended their titles in the tournament. The others are Bill Melhorn (1928-29) and Arnold Palmer (1960-62).

Justin Leonard’s victory last year continued a trend of Texas natives/residents to win the Valero Texas Open. The others are Byron Nelson (Dallas, 1940), Ben Hogan (Fort Worth, 1946), Jack Burke, Jr. (Houston, 1952), Tony Holguin (San Antonio, 1953), Wesley Ellis (San Antonio, 1959), Ben Crenshaw (Austin, 1973, 1986), Don January (Denton, 1975), Lee Trevino (Dallas, 1980), Bill Rogers (Texarkana/San Antonio, 1981), John Mahaffey (The Woodlands, 1985), Blaine McCallister (Fort Stockton, 1991), Bob Estes (Austin, 1994), David Ogrin (Garden Ridge, 1996), Justin Leonard (Dallas, 2000-01, 2007) Tommy Armour III (Irving, 2003) and Bart Bryant (Gatesville, 2004).

There are eight past major championship winners in this week's field. They are Davis Love III (1997 PGA Championship), David Duval (2001 British Open), David Toms (2001 PGA Championship), Steve Elkington (1995 PGA Championship), Rich Beem (2002 PGA Championship), Zach Johnson (2006 Masters Tournament) and Justin Leonard (1997 British Open).

Justin Leonard’s three-hole playoff victory a year ago at the Valero Texas Open was his first overtime win in five tries on the PGA TOUR. Previously, Leonard suffered playoff losses at the 1996 Phoenix Open, the 1999 British Open, the 2002 Bell Canadian Open and the 2004 PGA Championship.

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