|Valero Texas Open - May 10, 2010
VALERO TEXAS OPEN
TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course)
San Antonio, TX
Par: 36-36—72 Yards: 7,522
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 600
Purse: $6,100,000 Winner: $1,098,000
2009 Champion: Zach Johnson (265, -15)
Johnson Goes for 3 Straight Wins
at Valero Texas Open
After his playoff victory over James Driscoll last year, Zach Johnson returns to San Antonio to try and become just the second player in the event’s history to win three straight years. Arnold Palmer achieved the feat by winning from 1960 through 1962. Johnson is searching for his first top 10 of the 2010 campaign after a tie for 22nd last week at THE PLAYERS Championship.
After 15 years at the Westin La Cantera Resort, this year’s tournament moves to the new TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course. Designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman, with the assistance of Sergio Garcia, this 7,552-yard, par-72 layout opened for play in January.
Besides serving as a course consultant on the Valero Texas Open’s new home, Garcia will also play in the event. Last week at THE PLAYERS, he tied for 47th.
Valero Texas Open Notes
Zach Johnson was four strokes worse last year but was still able to walk away with his second Valero Texas Open title. In 2008, Johnson was 19-under in defeating Charlie Wi, Tim Wilkinson and Mark Wilson by two strokes. A year ago, Johnson was 15-under, tying him with James Driscoll at the end of regulation. Johnson won the playoff with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
John C. Little II is 2009’s All-Armed Forces champion who received a sponsor’s exemption into the 2010 Valero Texas Open field. Little, a native of Phenix City, AL, is currently on active duty as a senior airman in the Air Force at MacDill Air Force base in Florida.
This year, the tournament moves to TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks Course. The new course can stretch to 7,500 yards and includes three par 5s measuring more than 600 yards. The project also includes the Pete Dye-designed AT&T Canyons Course, the future home of the city's Champions Tour event, and the J.W. Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.
Not only has Justin Leonard won this tournament three times (2000, 2001 and 2007), the Texas native has also had disappointment, twice finishing as runner-up. Prior to his first victory, Leonard was second to Duffy Waldorf in 1995 and tied for second (with Jay Haas), a stroke behind Hal Sutton in 1998.
Bobby Gates, a Texas A&M graduate and this season’s Nationwide Tour leading money-winner, is taking a break from his home Tour to tee it up in San Antonio this week. Gates received a sponsor’s exemption into the event. Gates also played at the Valero Texas Open in 2009, tying for 47th. That remains his only PGA TOUR start. This season, the Gainesville, FL, native won the season-opening Michael Hill New Zealand Open. He has earned $186,383. In his last start, Gates tied for seventh at the Stadion Athens Classic at UGA in Georgia. Prior to this season, Gates had never played a Nationwide Tour event.
Ernie Els, a two-time winner in 2010—including his first World Golf Championships win, at the CA Championship—is making his first Valero Texas Open start this week. Els is first in the FedExCup standings and counts two other top-10 finishes this season to go with his two victories.
A veritable who’s who of golf has won this tournament, including 15 different World Golf Hall of Famers. They are Walter Hagen (1923), Denny Shute (1930), Byron Nelson (1940), Lawson Little (1941), Ben Hogan (1946), Sam Snead (1948 and 1950), Jack Burke, Jr. (1952), Gene Littler (1956), Arnold Palmer (1960-62), Chi Chi Rodriguez (1967), Deane Beman (1969), Ben Crenshaw (1973 and 1986), Hale Irwin (1977), Lee Trevino (1980) and Nick Price (1992).
• Ernie Els (West Palm Beach, FL) will be playing in the Valero Texas Open for the first time this week. Els leads the FedExCup race and cannot be caught this week.
• Zach Johnson (St. Simons Island, GA/Drake) will be looking to join Arnold Palmer as the only players to win the Valero Texas Open in three consecutive seasons. Palmer did it in 1960 to 1962.
• More on Johnson: When he fired a third-round 60 in last year’s Valero Texas Open he became the first player in TOUR history to record two scores of 60 or better. Johnson also had a 60 in the third round of the 2007 TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
• Justin Leonard (Dallas, TX/Texas) will be seeking to become the first player to win the Valero Texas Open four times in a career. Leonard, with wins in 2000, 2001 and 2007, and Arnold Palmer are the only players to capture this title three times.
• Sergio Garcia (Borriol, Spain) will be making just his second career appearance in the Valero Texas Open. Garcia served as the Player Consultant to Greg Norman who designed the TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course where the tournament will be held for the first time.
• Fifteen different native Texans have won the Valero Texas Open — Bill Mehlhorn, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jack Burke Jr., Tony Holguin, Wes Ellis, Ben Crenshaw, Don January, Lee Trevino, Bill Rogers, John Mahaffey, Blaine McCallister, Bob Estes, Justin Leonard and Bart Bryant.
• Very quietly Bo Van Pelt (Tulsa, OK/Oklahoma State) has put together a strong season resulting in a 23rd place showing in the FedExCup points race. Van Pelt has collected three consecutive Top-5 finishes—T3 at the Verizon Heritage, 5th at the Quail Hollow Championship and a T4 at THE PLAYERS.
• Tim Clark’s (Scottsdale, AZ/NC State) victory last week at THE PLAYERS was the 273rd win by a former Nationwide Tour player on the PGA TOUR and the fourth (David Duval, Craig Perks, Stephen Ames) at THE PLAYERS. Former Nationwide Tour players have won 13 of the first 20 events on the PGA TOUR this season.
• Clark wasn’t the only Nationwide Tour alum to enjoy success last week at THE PLAYERS as Lucas Glover (Greenville, SC/Clemson) finished 3rd while Ben Crane (Westlake, TX/Oregon), Heath Slocum (Alpharetta, GA/South Alabama) and Bo Van Pelt (Tulsa, OK/Oklahoma State) all finished T4
• Former NFL superstar Jerry Rice will be competing for the second time this year as a professional on the Nationwide Tour when he tees it up this week at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation.
• Ken Green (West Palm Beach, FL) will be competing in an individual stroke play event for the first time since his tragic car accident last June when he tees it up this week at the Regions Charity Classic. Green teamed with Mike Reid recently in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
• The Regions Charity Classic will have a strong collection of former or current athletes and coaches in the Pro-Am portion of the event. Expected to play are Tony Barbee, Charles Barkley, Cornelius Bennett, Gene Chizik, Brodie Croyle, Al Del Grego, Jimbo Fisher, Anthony Grant, Bo Jackson, Dan Mullen, Phil Niekro, Nick Saban, Wimp Sanderson, Takeo Spikes, Pat Sullivan and John Parker Wilson.
• The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge is the longest course ever played on the Champions Tour, listed at 7,525 yards.