Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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The First Look: Valero Texas Open

Corey Conners returns to defend his maiden PGA TOUR title as the Valero Texas Open returns to the TOUR schedule after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

FIELD NOTES: Dustin Johnson, the reigning FedExCup champion, was a late entrant and will return to the Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2015, when he finished T6. Johnson made his PGA TOUR debut as a sponsor exemption in 2007 at the same event … Jordan Spieth will make one more start in his run-up to the Masters and return to TPC San Antonio. He finished T30 in 2019, his first start at Valero since 2015 when he finished runner-up … Corey Conners will finally have a chance to defend his 2019 title. That year Conners became the first golfer to go from Monday Qualifier to TOUR winner since 2010 … Besides Johnson, who will defend his Masters title the following week, and Spieth, other past Masters champs in the Valero field include Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, and Danny Willett … Sponsor exemptions include Sam Bennett, Austin Eckroat, Mac Meissner of SMU, and 18-year-old Akshay Bhatia. Eckroat, who was named to the 2021 Walker Cup team, finished T12 in this season’s Mayakoba Golf Classic presented by UNIFIN. Bhatia has made the cut in three of five starts this season, including a T9 at the Safeway Open … Other notables who are looking to keep rising in the FedExCup standings with a start at TPC San Antonio include Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, and Hideki Matsuyama.   

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.

STORYLINES: Will someone else follow in Corey Conners’ footsteps and go from Monday to Masters? There are four spots open for a Monday qualifier to try to do just that … The Valero is the final opportunity for someone to win a TOUR event and punch his ticket to Augusta National. Some still looking for their invite for 2021, and who are in the field at TPC San Antonio, include: Rickie Fowler (who hasn’t missed the Masters since 2010), 2016 Valero winner Charley Hoffman, FedExCup champions Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk, and Canadian TOUR winners Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor (hoping to follow in Conners’ footsteps from 2019) … The Valero Texas Open was first contested in 1922, making it one of the longest-running events on TOUR.

COURSE: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks), par 72, 7,494 yards (yardage subject to change). PGA TOUR winner Sergio Garcia assisted Greg Norman of the design of the AT&T Oaks course at TPC San Antonio. The course features rolling greens, tree-lined fairways, only 100 feet of elevation change and was carved out of rocky San Antonio Hill Country terrain. 

72-HOLE RECORD: 254, Tommy Armour III (2003 at La Cantera). TPC San Antonio record: 268, Corey Conners (2019).

18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Bart Bryant (3rd round, 2004 at La Cantera), Zach Johnson (3rd round, 2009 at La Cantera). TPC San Antonio record: 62, Trey Mullinax (3rd round, 2018)

LAST TIME: It was truly a tale of two nines for Corey Conners in the final round in 2019, the last time the Valero Texas Open was contested. But in the end the Canadian was victorious by two over Charley Hoffman – and punched the final ticket to the Masters after Monday qualifying for the Valero earlier in the week. On Sunday, Conners birdied four of his first five holes but gave them all back with bogeys from Nos. 6-9. He bounced back with three birdies in a row on Nos. 10-12 and added three more for good measure on the back nine to close with a 6-under 66 and finish at 20-under for the week. Hoffman, a past champion at Valero, ended up at 18-under, while Ryan Moore (after tied for the low round of the week Sunday, an 8-under 64) finished a shot back and solo third. Brian Stuard and Si Woo Kim rounded out the top five, finishing at 15 under.


HOW TO FOLLOW

Television: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-3:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3:30-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-6 p.m. (NBC).

PGA TOUR LIVEThursday-Friday, 8:15 a.m.- 7 p.m. (Featured Groups). Saturday, 8:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (Featured Groups), 3:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes). Sunday, 8:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Featured Groups), 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes).

Radio: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).

TOURCast: Get shot-by-shot info in real time with shot tracks and video with TOURCast.

TOUR Pulse: Get the PGA TOUR app to utilize TOUR Pulse, which provides users the ability to experience a mix of content, such as video highlights, written hole summaries and stat graphics on every player after every hole they complete.


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