First a quick recap of last week’s WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship:
Group play wasn’t kind to Bulldogs. Keith Mitchell won one match, lost another match, and tied a third (1-1-1). He did not advance. Russell Henley played well, but lost 3 close matches and also did not advance (he did remain inside the top 50 in the world ranking and will play at the Masters). Sepp Straka won a match but lost two others. Bubba Watson and Brian Harman tied in their match Friday, and that assured neither would move into the round of 16.
There was some good news: Kevin Kisner was perfect in group play (3-0-0), beat Adam Scott 1 up in the round of 16, disposed of Will Zalatoris 4 & 3 Saturday afternoon, and outlasted Corey Conners Sunday morning to make the finals. But he ran up against a buzzsaw in the Sunday afternoon finals, falling to Scottie Scheffler 4&3. There’s no shame there, as this is the third victory for Scheffler in 2 months, and he is now the #1 player in the world.
Onward and upward. Or in this case, sliding a little south and west as the Tour leaves Austin and moves to San Antonio for the last chance to get your invite to Augusta National.
Tournament: Valero Texas Open, March 31 - April 3, 2022.
Course: TPC San Antonio (played on the Oaks Course), 7,438 yards, par 72.
Purse: $7.9 million in total, $1.386 million to the winner.
Defending Champ: Jordan Alexander Spieth. The Texas born, bred, and somewhat educated (left UT after 1 year) wunderkind broke back into the winners circle for the first time since his British Open win in 2017. There’s really not much more to be said. The hordes who worship Spieth as the next Tiger fell all over themselves with the locally famous “he’s BACK”!! I like him, he’s just not my cup of tea. I also don’t like Arnold Palmer, so I am fully aware the problem is probably with me.
Fun Fact: The Valero is the oldest professional tournament played exclusively in the same city. The first version was held in 1922 at Brackenridge Park - one of the first municipal courses in the country. The course actually wound through the park, which also housed an outdoor city zoo. If legends are true, there was a wolf den beside the 6th green. Wild stuff, man, wild stuff.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 1 p.m.-2 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 4. Chris Kirk, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd, and Greyson Sigg.
The golf world’s eyes have turned to Augusta, as that hallowed ground will host the 86th Masters next week. So it is understandable that this week’s tournament is overlooked. Many of the top pros are taking the week off to rest, sharpen up their game, maybe take in a practice round at Augusta National with their son. After all, the Masters field is set... or is it?
The winner of this week’s Valero Texas Open, if not already qualified, will earn an invitation to next week’s Masters. And there’s about 100 fellas in the field this week who would love to snag that Sunday night flight between SAT and ATL (actually, the tournament has a charter that will fly the players directly to Augusta). And three of our former Bulldogs are in that group. Hudson Swafford is already playing the Masters due to his win in late January.
We’ll have a little bit more golf coverage next week as usual. That also serves as a warning. But for now, there are 3 more ‘Dawgs trying to qualify for the Masters, so that is good enough for me. And as always...