Tournament: Valero Texas Open, April 20-23
Course: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks), 7,435 yards, par 72
Defending Champion: Charley Hoffman. The UNLV product held off a charge by Patrick Reed (UGA/Augusta State) with a birdie on the 72nd hole to win by a stroke. He has tons of top finishes here in the past, so he was due.
Fun Fact: Greg Norman was the chief designer of this course that opened in 2010, but of interest is the person given “consultant” credit in the design: newly crowned Masters champ Sergio Garcia. At the time, Sergio was dating Norman’s daughter, and was reportedly crushed by their subsequent breakup. Awkward.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). You guys know this is carried on radio too, right? Sirius XM PGA Tour radio carries coverage pretty much all afternoon each day of the tourney. I can include the specifics if you want me to - just say as much in the comments.
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (One): Chris Kirk.
If you’ve read these entries before, you’ll know I sometimes have offbeat perspective on these golf tournaments. With only 1 former ‘Dawg teeing it up this week, my attention was once again drawn away from meaningful statistical analysis. My findings?
There are 5 players named “Ryan” in the field. There are just as many named “Cameron” as named “John” or “Kevin”. There are two “J.J.”s playing; the same number of guys named “Chris”. Now back to your regularly scheduled tournament review:
This used to be part of the “Texas Swing” where the PGA Tour put all of its Texas tournaments together. Now it stands alone, with the remaining Texas tourneys (Colonial and Nelson) coming in late May, with stops in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida in between. If you pay attention to golf like I do, you’ll know that many players are frustrated by this skipping around on the Tour schedule. They would prefer to keep their RV and tour bus mileage, and Delta Medallion status, to a reasonable minimum.
But we’re in Texas this week, and specifically San Antonio. Yes, I made fun of it in the byline, but it truly is a great city. That doesn’t mean I can’t look down on them since I was born and bred in the great State of Georgia.
This is a pretty tough course, and being in Texas, it uses the wind as a hefty defense. Just enough water to make some shots treacherous, and just enough cottonwood trees to give players pause. The winning score is usually 10-15 under par, so no one runs away from the field. It is a par 72 with 4 par fives, but even those can cause problems. And it has elevation too; this is hill country after all.
It is easy to know who to root for, since Chris Kirk is the single UGA alum playing this week. He is number 93 in the world, but number 63 in the season-long FedEx Cup points race. He has 4 Tour titles, 4 runner up finishes, and has made the cut in over 72% of his starts on Tour. That equates to over $14 million in earnings in 10 years as a pro.
Chris has the game to compete here, we just don’t know if he is sharp right now. He is ranked 32nd in hitting greens in regulation, and 14th in birdie average. Some of his driving stats aren’t that great, but nothing really bad. It basically supports his world and FedEx Cup current status. If that doesnt’ do it for you, I’ll just ask you to tweet @vineyarddawg how superior you find the NCAA Gymnastics Regional and Super Six technical coverage.
So we have a down week, but this will get drowned out with G-Day coverage anyway. No matter how much I love and follow the sport of golf, my spare time Saturday will be watching football Between The Hedges.
And as always...