Charley Hoffman turned a very difficult bunker shot into a potential birdie Saturday on the par-5 18th. He would have to settle for a par, however, that left him two back of leader Billy Horschel after 54 holes.
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- The last time Bob Estes won the Valero Texas Open -- 19 years ago -- it came at a course that was anything but a bomb-and-gouge layout at the crafty A.W. Tillinghast-designed Oak Hill Country Club.
Though there are some similarities between the pushed up greens that the master Tillinghast designed and the earth eruptions that make up the green complexes on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, the 47-year-old Estes has a hard time remembering all of them.
“That was almost like a full career ago,” Estes said Saturday after his 3-under 69 has him four shots out of Billy Horschel’s lead. “So much has changed since then. It’s still about managing your game. It’s still just golf.”
Estes, who played following the Crenshaw-Kite era at the University of Texas, appears cemented in the here and now. He shaved a stroke off the lead with his play in the third round and, with the way he plays on this TPC course that stresses the course management that Estes loves, he looks to have a shot at his first PGA TOUR victory since 2002 which would net him his first Masters appearance since 2005.
But Estes won’t budge through these 25 mph winds in San Antonio to look ahead. The Masters?
“I don’t like talking about it,” he said. “I’m just thinking about tomorrow. There’s plenty to stress out about, think about, playing in this wind.”
He’s made six of seven cuts this season. Though he’s not cracked the top 15, he does have a 16th place at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
Last year at TPC San Antonio he had his season-best finish of tie for fourth. His Texas Open victory in 1994 was his first of four PGA TOUR wins.
He said he feels good about where he can miss on this golf course, places where he can still get up and down and avoid three-putts.
Though he’s in the top 35 in greens hit, his putting (26 strokes per round) is in the top five and his 4-for-4 sand saves is first.
“It’s just course management,” he said. “A lot of guys, when the wind is blowing, they have trouble keeping it down or playing the right shot, and sometimes you have to play some pretty good defense. You play too aggressively in certain places and you hardly have a chance to two-putt or get it up and down.”
By PGATOUR.COM staff
A two-shot leader entering the third round, Billy Horschel did nothing to hurt his chances at winning the Valero Texas Open on Saturday.
Horschel, in search of his first win on TOUR, carded five birdies against three bogeys Saturday in a 2-under 70 that leaves him two clear of Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman at TPC San Antonio. Horschel opened the event with a pair of 68s.
Furyk started the day three back and made up quick ground with birdies on his first two holes. He played the next 15 at even par but added another birdie on the 18th to secure a spot in Sunday’s final group.
Hoffman also started quickly, with three birdies on his first eight holes to briefly take the lead from Horschel. He played the final 10 holes in 1-over after missing a 7-foot birdie putt on the closing hole.
Lurking on the leaderboard will be Rory McIlroy, Bob Estes and Ryan Palmer, who each completed 54 holes at 6 under. Padraig Harrington, Martin Laird, Jeff Overton, K.J. Choi and Daniel Summerhays are another shot back at 5 under.
Horschel earned a career-best T2 finish last week at the Shell Houston Open where he carded weekend scores of 67-66 to move up the leaderboard. He’s got a grand opportunity to 1-up that showing on Sunday.
Marcel Siem has played fantastic golf since a very tough start to his week. (Little/Getty Images)
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- Before the Valero Texas Open came to TPC San Antonio three years ago, the tournament was played at a course that bordered a roller coaster.
That thing is a long-gone part of the 90-plus-year history of the event, yet there’s someone making a roller coaster ride here this week. It’s Marcel Siem, the recognizable “Man With The Golden Bun.”
Consider the action: Siem looked to be in the field for The Masters when he impressively won the Trophy Hassan II in Morocco last week.
When Russell Henley shot a 68 in the final round in the Shell Houston Open a few hours after Siem‘s win, Siem was out by .003 points in the top 50 of the world rankings.
Siem took the sponsor’s exemption to come to San Antonio, needing a win to go to Augusta. But he quickly hit the depths once again by playing the first 16 holes in 5-over on Thursday. But he’s 9-under since then.
His opening 16 holes included four bogeys and two doubles. He’s got 12 birdies in the 38 holes since, with three bogeys and no doubles.
So, the 32-year-old Siem thinks it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to win and pull out a Masters invite. His 3-under round of 69 on Saturday has given him at least a miracle-seekers chance of winning. He’s 4-under with 18 to play.
“You never know,” Siem said. “If I got it to six or seven under there would be a great chance for tomorrow still. There’s still a chance. I like the course. I see a six or seven under here possible, even with the wind if you get it in the right positions.”
Siem would have the momentum if not for the final three holes at AT&T Oaks. He practically shanked his tee shot on the seventh (his 16th hole) and bogeyed. He birdied No. 8 but, with that shank still in his mind two holes later, he hit a shaky gap wedge to miss the green at No. 9 after a 330-yard drive to finish his round with bogey.
“(Without) those two hiccups on 7 and 9 today on the last three holes I would be very happy,” Siem said. “I hit a -- I don’t even want to say that word -- on 7. It was pretty close to the shaft there, first time in my life (to hit it like that) in a tournament.
“I had the gap wedge in (at No. 9) and backed off, thought about the shot at 7, then hit it on the toe. It’s weird. I’m full of confidence actually. I will be all right tomorrow.”
Jordan Spieth struggled on TPC San Antonio's green complexes Friday. (Dykes/Getty Images)
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- It’s not often that a PGA TOUR pro feels like a weekend player, but Jordan Spieth went through it Friday when he shot a 4-over 76 at TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course and missed the cut by two shots.
“I just feel like my little sister could have putted for me and shot a better round,” Spieth said. “I made everything on the practice green. And then I got out there and missed a couple early and I was never able to settle down.”
It’s oft the plight of the weekend golfer; hit everything well on the practice range and get out to the course only to rake it around.
Spieth, the 19-year-old who is playing his way onto the TOUR after leaving the national champion Texas Longhorns after one year, counted 36 putts in his round. TOUR stats counted 30, yet Spieth doesn’t sound like numbers would make him feel better.
“You don’t see a round coming when you’re hitting 15 greens and you have seven looks at birdie,” Spieth said. “Most people look at that as a 2-under or 3-under round, especially on a difficult course like this.”
He missed a five-foot birdie putt on No. 2, missed from inside 10 feet at No. 3, missed a six-footer on the fifth and the damage was done. He sank no putts past four feet all day, and in the first round Thursday he had 25 putts and made six putts past four feet including a 28-footer.
Spieth played in the group with top-10 players Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar, and he saw McIlroy rally to get within three shots of the lead with a 67 and saw Kuchar rally back from the danger of missing the cut (he was 3-over and a stroke past the cut line) by saving some crucial pars and adding two birdies on the back nine.
“Matt was in a lot of really hard positions and he made his seven- to eight-foot par putts,” Spieth said. “I had seven putts for birdie inside 10 feet and made zero. Even the (player who’s) ranked last on TOUR makes two or three of those.”