Plenty of history and scoring at the Texas Open
By DOUG FERGUSON
Apr. 20, 2017
Few other PGA Tour events have such a long and storied tradition as the Valero Texas Open.
It began in 1922, making it the sixth-oldest tournament on the PGA Tour schedule behind the British Open, U.S. Open, BMW Championship (formerly the Western Open), the Canadian Open and the PGA Championship.
The list of champions includes Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson.
It has a history of low scoring. Mike Souchak set the 72-hole scoring record at 256 in the 1955 Texas Open, a record that stood for 46 years until Mark Calcavecchia beat it by one shot at the 2001 Phoenix Open. And then two years later, Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the Texas Open, and that record stood for 14 years until Justin Thomas broke it at the Sony Open this year.
And then there's Kevin Na, delivering a line rarely heard at the highest level of golf.
"How are we going to count all the shots?" Na said to his caddie in 2011 when he needed video help to mark down a 16 on the ninth hole at the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. And that's not even a record.
The 86th edition of the Texas Open is the centerpiece of another flat week for golf. For the second straight week, no one from among the top 10 is playing on the PGA Tour. Patrick Reed at No. 15 is the highest-ranked player at the TPC San Antonio.
Bubba Watson has taken his colored golf balls to China to play in the Shenzhen International on the European Tour. The Web.com Tour returns to action after a month break, and two players will post the lowest score of the year on the PGA Tour Champions — it's a team event, and one of the courses is a par 3.
Golf has seen a lot more fist pumps from a guy in a red shirt, though Hoffman was no less excited when he won the Texas Open a year ago. He was momentarily tied with Patrick Reed when Hoffman holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a one-shot victory.
The AT&T Course opened in 2010 and was designed by Greg Norman, with Sergio Garcia as a "consultant." Garcia has played the tournament just one time since it moved to the TPC San Antonio.
Phil Mickelson is not returning after three straight years at the Texas Open, none particularly memorable. He withdrew after 36 holes with a pulled oblique muscle in 2014. He missed the cut last year. He tied for 30th in 2015, where he made highlights when his club flew off the shaft while hitting a bunker shot.
This will be the professional debut of Curtis Luck, the pony-tailed Australian who sailed to an easy victory last year in the U.S. Amateur .
And it's a home game for PGA champion Jimmy Walker, who only a few weeks ago realized Lyme Disease is why he has been feeling so fatigued this year.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS Sports).
The European Tour considers itself a world tour, and it's hard to argue. It has more tournaments in China (3) than Scotland (2) this year.
The Shenzhen International began only three years ago, but there was enough appeal (not to mention appearance money) for Watson to play every year. The two-time Masters champion hasn't performed very well, though he did make a trick-shot video a few years ago at night.
Also in the field is Tommy Fleetwood, who beat Dustin Johnson by one shot in Abu Dhabi and finished one shot behind Johnson in Mexico City.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-5 a.m. (Golf Channel).
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
Tiger Woods made an appearance at a PGA Tour Champions event this week, but only to announce he will be building a public golf course at Big Cedar Lodge. Woods also hit a few shots to a par 3, though the first one bounced in the rocks and didn't suggest he was on his way back to competition anytime soon.
The Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf is a two-man team event that features fourballs at the par-71 Buffalo Ridge Springs course, and two rounds on the par-3 course called Top of the Rock — nine holes of fourballs, nine holes of modified alternate shot.
Among the teams are Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly of Wisconsin. They also will be a team next week in New Orleans.
Television: Friday, noon-3 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5-7 p.m. (Golf Channel).