Proven winners gather at Valero Texas Open

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April 18, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

Two of the game's steadiest players and perhaps this season's most improved are grouped together for the first two rounds of the Valero Texas Open.

But only one of the three, Johnson Wagner, has ever played TPC San Antonio in competition. His best finish is a tie for 15th in 2011, the second year the course hosted the sixth oldest tournament in the world.

Valero.jpg
Tee times
Tee times for Johnson Wagner-K.J. Choi-Matt Kuchar are below. Click here for all tee times.

K.J. Choi, meanwhile, is returning to the Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2005 while Matt Kuchar is making his first appearance since 2008. Both have top-10 finishes at the tournament on their resumes, but those came at La Cantera Golf Club.

Wagner has staked his claim to the most improved title after a win and a runner-up among five top-15 finishes this season. He ranks fifth in the FedExCup and is the only player to have been ranked among the top five since the second week of the season.

The Virginia Tech product and Charlotte resident could regain the No. 1 spot in the rankings with a victory this week in San Antonio. How well is Wagner playing? He ranks first in total birdies and is tied for first in eagles and sub-par rounds on TOUR this year.

Kuchar comes to Texas on the heels of his best-ever finish in a major when he closed with a 69 and tied for third at the Masters -- which was his fourth straight top-10 finish of the season. He'll be looking to get back on track after tying for 44th in Hilton Head last week.

Kuchar currently ranks 23rd in the FedExCup and ended up second in 2010 and sixth a year ago in the season-long competition. The former Georgia Tech standout has been the model of consistency over the last three-and-a-half years with a two wins, 29 top-10s and 55 top-25s in 82 starts.

Choi, who will defend his title at THE PLAYERS Championship next month, has started slowly this season.

The eight-time PGA TOUR winner tied for fifth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions but only has one top-25 finish in seven starts since. His lone missed cut of the year came in his last start at the Masters but he only has shot in the 60s in five of his last 22 rounds.

Wagner-Choi-Kuchar tee times
Tee times for first two rounds for Johnson Wagner/K.J. Choi/Matt Kuchar
Round 1
8:40 a.m. ET
No. 10 tee
Round 2
1:40 p.m. ET
No. 1 tee
More featured groups
STEELE-NA-CAULEY
1:40 p.m. ET No. 1, 8:40 a.m. ET No. 10
Brendan Steele obviously knows his way around TPC San Antonio after last year's win. Both Kevin Na, who tied for eighth last week, and rookie Bud Cauley, who has three top 20s in his last four starts, are playing well.

FRAZAR-PALMER-LEONARD
1:50 p.m. ET, No. 1, 8:50 a.m. ET No. 10
The three Texans should have a big following. Justin Leonard is a three-time champion with two runner-up finishes. Ryan Palmer's best finish of the year was T21 in Houston while Harrison Frazar opened the season with two top 5s but is trying to recapture that momentum after three missed cuts.

WEEKLEY-LICKLITER-O'HERN
9:30 a.m. ET No. 1, 2:30 p.m. ET No. 10
Nick O'Hern may be the odd man out in this group with two avid outdoorsmen. The rejuvenated Boo Weekley is coming off a tie for sixth last week at Harbour Town.

Like Kuchar, Choi is striving to make the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the third straight season. He's got some ground to make up, though -- Choi currently ranks 67th in the FedExCup standings.

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