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Valero Texas Open

Tournament Preview

Jordan Spieth stunned golf fans from Amarillo to Zapata in December of 2012 when he announced halfway through his sophomore year at the University of Texas that he was turning pro.

A turn as PGA Rookie of the Year and a spot in the FedExCup Finals made skeptics realize just how good the young man could be.

Spieth will be one of the favorites beginning Thursday at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, just a few hours south of his hometown of Dallas and about a 45-mile drive from Austin, where he helped the Longhorns to the national championship in 2012, his last year as an amateur.

Played at the JW Marriott TPC, the Valero has a purse of $6.2 million and awards 500 FedExCup points to the winner.

Last year’s champion, Martin Laird, won the event by two strokes over Rory McIlroy. Recent winners of note include Adam Scott (2010) and Zach Johnson (2008-2009).

Laird and Spieth will be joined in an opening round trio by legend Phil Mickelson, with all three men in search of their first tournament title of the 2013-2014 season.

It’s Mickelson’s first time in San Antonio in more than 20 years, while Laird wants to emulate his final round last year, a 9-under 63 that won him the title.

The course itself is a par-72, 7,522-yard masterpiece with Greg Norman serving as its architect and Sergio Garcia helping reshape it.

Another trio who should put up some low scores over the weekend is Jimmy Walker, Ernie Els and Justin Leonard.

Two of the three are have ties to Texas. Walker, the current FedExCup leader, lives in San Antonio, although he was born in Oklahoma, he played in college at Baylor, about three hours north of San Antonio. Leonard is from Dallas and, like Spieth, played college ball at Texas.

03/27/14, Thursday

The saying in Texas has always been that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes and it’ll change.

Unfortunately, rain hung around the TPC San Antonio for much of the day on Thursday, curtailing the action at the Valero Texas Open, with nearly half the field unable to finish their opening 18 holes.

Of those who did, American Pat Perez and Australian Danny Lee finished with 4-under 68s to sit atop the leaderboard entering Friday.

Perez was at 1-under before finishing his round with three straight birdies, nearly a carbon copy of Lee’s back nine. Lee was at even par through 13 holes, then recorded birdies on No. 14, 15, 17 and 18.

American Andrew Loupe is also at 4-under, but has only completed 11 holes. He started on the back nine and five birdies and two bogeys in a wild seven-hole stretch.

The 25-year-old Loupe, a graduate of LSU, enters the tournament ranked 187th in the world.

A quartet of players reached the clubhouse at 3-under par to sit one stroke off the lead: Americans Will MacKenzie, Cameron Beckman and Chesson Hadley, and Korea’s Seung-yul Noh.

Among those at 2-under are Jim Furyk, who hit only one bogey on the day, and Zach Johnson, who overcame bogeys on No. 1 and No. 5.

The tournament’s “Big Three” on opening day were nowhere to be found on the leaderboard.

Defending champion Martin Laird is tied for 51st at even par with a 72. Local favorite Jordan Spieth had a disastrous back nine after reaching the turn at 3-under thanks to four front nine birdies.

Spieth hit four straight bogeys on No. 10-13, and added two more on 15 and 16 en route to a 3-over 75.

Worse still was Phil Mickelson, playing the tournament for the first time in two decades.
Mickelson’s 5-over 77 tied him for 135th out of 144 players.

He was particularly bad on the front nine, with two bogeys and a double bogey.

03/28/14, Friday

Steven Bowditch and Chad Collins started off Friday tied for 30th at the Valero Texas Open; they ended it holding the top two spots in the tournament.

Bowditch fired a 5-under 67 and Collins a 6-under 66 to clamber up the leaderboard in San Antonio.

Bowditch is atop the leaderboard at 8-under through the first 36 holes,with Collins and Day One leader Andrew Loupe each a stroke behind at 7-under.

If not for a double bogey on No. 9, the Australian Bowditch might be running away with the tournament.

 It was his only hole over par, the rest of the way he compiled five birdies and a gorgeous eagle 2 on the par-4 No. 12.

Collins had the same type of round - just one blemish, a bogey on No. 12. The rest of his round was a concoction of 10 pars and seven birdies.

Loupe slipped to second from first with a 2-under 70. Fellow Day One co-leader Pat Perez dropped to a tie for fourth after shooting a 1-under 71.

Cameron Beckman is tied with Perez at 5-under after hitting a 2-under 70.

With the cut set at 3-over, fan favorites Phil Mickelson and JImmy Walker were able to just slip in to the third round.

After staggering to a 5-over 77, Mickelson bounced back with a 2-under 70, but still needed to birdie the final hole to make the cut.

Walker dug himself an early hole with a double bogey on No. 1, but rallied with three birdies in the final five holes, including back to back on 17 and 18.

On the wrong side of the cut was 2013 Valero Texas Open champion Martin Laird, who struggled to a 5-over 77 and finished at +5.

Former University of Texas standout Jordan Spieth shot a 2-under 70. Spieth jumped from 105th to a tie for 43rd.

03/29/14, Saturday

Steven Bowditch has never won a PGA tournament his life, but he’s not acting like it.

Bowditch extended his lead at the Valero Texas Open to three strokes on Saturday by firing a 4-under 68.

Matt Kuchar and Day One co-leader Andrew Loupe are tied for second after Kuchar shot a 7-under 65 and Loupe a 2-under 70.

Bowditch is 12-under for the tournament and was red-hot early in the round, notching two birdies and an eagle in his first five holes.

Kuchar jumped from 16th to tied for second by notching five birdies in his first seven holes and recording eight birdies on the round.

Pat Perez is fourth at 8-under, followed by Kevin Na at 7-under.

Jordan Spieth had his best round of the tournament, a 4-under 68 highlighted by three birdies in his last five holes.

British Open champion Phil Mickelson, who barely made the cut on Friday, withdrew from the tournament after 10 holes with a muscle injury.

Tournament Recap

There’s a certain fantasy that most players have about their first PGA championship: a dominant Sunday; a string of birdies; a clutch putt on No. 18.

Steven Bowditch had none of those things on Sunday in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open, but he did walk away with his first PGA crown.

Bowditch fired a 4-over 72, but the lead he built during the first 54 holes was just enough to hold off Americans Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays by a stroke each.

Bowditch finished 8-under for the tournament despite an ugly Sunday that featured four bogeys, a double bogey and just two birdies.

He bogeyed No. 18 to put himself even further at risk, but neither Summerhays nor MacKenzie could birdie the final hole to force a playoff.

MacKenzie shot a 2-under 70, and Summerhays a 1-under 71 in the final round. Bowditch picked up $1.16 million and 500 FedExCup points for his victory.

Day One leader Andrew Loupe and Matt Kuchar finished tied for fourth at 6-under. Neither man could make much of a dent in Bowditch’s lead as each shot a 3-over 75.

Only one man who finished in the Top 10 shot less than a 70 on Sunday: American Brendon Todd, who fired his second straight 68 to finish tied for sixth at 5-under with a host of other players including Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson.

Local favorite Jordan Spieth fired a 71to end up in 10th place at 4-under. It was Spieth’s second Top 10 finish of the year and fourth finish in the top 20 in five tournaments on the season.

The PGA Tour moves three hours east of San Antonio this week for the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas where D.A.Points will try to defend his 2013 title.

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