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18D AGO

The First Look: Valero Texas Open

5 Min Read

The First Look

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    Written by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley

    It’s the final week before the season’s first major, with four of the world’s top-10 players heading to TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.

    The Aon Swing 5 for the RBC Heritage will also be finalized this week. With less than 10 FedExCup points separating Nos. 5 to 7 in the Aon Swing 5 standings heading into this week, it’s set to be a dramatic finish at TPC San Antonio.

    The winner – if not already qualified – also earns the final invite to the Masters, something that’s happened in two of the last four Valero Texas Opens.

    Here’s everything else you need to know as the TOUR’s Texas two-step continues in San Antonio.

    FIELD NOTES: Rory McIlroy returns to make his third start of this event’s TPC San Antonio era; he finished runner-up in 2013 and missed the cut in 2022. Since McIlroy’s last Valero start, he has won six times worldwide … Corey Conners will look to become the first back-to-back winner at the Valero Texas Open since Zach Johnson in 2008-09. He is also looking to join Justin Leonard and Arnold Palmer as the event’s only three-time winners … Jordan Spieth, the 2021 winner, returns to action. He looks to right the ship leading into the Masters after missing his last two cuts on TOUR … Collin Morikawa is making his tournament debut. It’s been an up-and-down 2024 campaign for Morikawa so far, with just one top-10 finish in six starts … Max Homa is set to tee it up in San Antonio for the first time since 2019 … Ludvig Åberg will play the Valero Texas Open for the first time as a pro after missing the cut in 2022. Åberg has gone 7-for-7 in cuts made this season and has three top-10s, including an eighth-place finish at THE PLAYERS Championship, his last TOUR start. Åberg is set to make his major championship debut next week at the Masters … Reigning Open champion Brian Harman returns to TPC San Antonio for the first time since 2019. His best finish to date is a T16 in 2014 … Upwards of 25 players in the field are also headed to the Masters. This marks the final opportunity for Masters qualification; if the winner this week is not already in the field, they’ll punch the final ticket to Augusta National.

    HIGHEST-RANKED PLAYERS IN THE FIELD
    World RankingFedExCup
    2. Rory McIlroy3. Hideki Matsuyama
    8. Brian Harman7. Byeong Hun An
    9. Ludvig Åberg9. Ludvig Åberg
    10. Max Homa12. Brian Harman
    11. Matt Fitzpatrick17. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
    12. Tommy Fleetwood20. Harris English
    14. Hideki Matsuyama26. Austin Eckroat
    17. Collin Morikawa28. Erik van Rooyen
    19. Jordan Spieth29. Eric Cole
    22. Tom Kim30. Grayson Murray

    SPONSOR EXEMPTIONS: Joe Sullivan, a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, won the inaugural Valero Texas Collegiate last September to earn a spot in this week’s Valero Texas Open – prevailing in a three-man playoff. Sullivan, who is from England, spent his first three collegiate seasons at Jacksonville University. He led the team in scoring average in 2022-23 … Ryan Palmer has played every Valero Texas Open hosted by TPC San Antonio and is back in action this week. He notched three straight top-six finishes from 2015-17 at this event … Padraig Harrington will play his second straight PGA TOUR event after winning the Hoag Classic Newport Beach on PGA TOUR Champions two weeks ago. Harrington finished T10 at the Valero Texas Open last year. It was his first top-10 on TOUR since the 2021 PGA Championship when he finished T4 … Other sponsor invites were awarded to 2017 winner Kevin Chappell, 2015 winner Jimmy Walker and European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.

    SIGNATURE EVENT STORYLINES: Stephan Jaeger’s win at the Texas Children’s Houston Open saw him move to No. 3 in the Aon Next 10 standings; however, he’ll be exempt for the remaining Signature Events in 2024 regardless of his position in the Aon Next 10 by virtue of his victory at Memorial Park … Thomas Detry, after finishing T2 in Houston, jumped inside the Aon Next 10 standings from No. 13 to No. 9 … The next Signature Event on the PGA TOUR schedule is the RBC Heritage. The Aon Swing 5 standings for that event started with the Puerto Rico Open and have continued through the Valspar Championship and Texas Children’s Houston Open; this week’s Valero Texas Open marks the final event to try to qualify … Alejandro Tosti (T2 in Houston) and Billy Horschel (T7 in Houston) both moved inside the Aon Swing 5 and are both teeing it up this week at TPC San Antonio … The Aon Next 10 for the RBC Heritage will be finalized after the Masters.

    COMCAST BUSINESS TOUR TOP 10 UPDATES: With his win at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, Stephan Jaeger jumped to No. 10 in the standings, a move up 37 spots … Scottie Scheffler kept a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot of the FedExCup standings after his tie for second in Houston … Nick Taylor was bumped by Jaeger from No. 10 to No. 11 … The rest of the TOUR TOP 10 remained unchanged with Byeong Hun An and Chris Kirk remaining as the only players to be inside the TOUR TOP 10 for every week so far this season.

    FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.

    COURSE: TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course), 7,438 yards, par 72. Opened in January 2010, the layout features just 100 feet of elevation and boasts a traditional design that balances wider fairways with narrower tree-lined fairways for strategic options to the greens. The downhill holes often play into the prevailing wind while uphill holes play downwind. This is the 15th time the design will play host to the Valero Texas Open.

    72-HOLE RECORD:

    • 254: Tommy Armour III (2003 at La Cantera)
    • TPC San Antonio record: 268, Corey Conners (2019)

    18-HOLE RECORD:

    • 60: Bart Bryant (Round 3, 2004 at La Cantera), Zach Johnson (Round 3, 2009 at La Cantera)
    • TPC San Antonio record: 62, Trey Mullinax (Round 3, 2018)

    LAST TIME: Corey Conners won the Valero Texas Open for the second time in his career, closing with a 4-under 68. Conners was a shot back of Patrick Rodgers through 54 holes, but the Canadian built up a three-shot advantage through 15 holes Sunday. Rookie Sam Stevens eagled the par-5 17th but missed a 9-foot birdie try on the 72nd hole that would have tied it. Conners, who had the first-round lead after a 64, tapped in for par on 18 to win by one. Sam Ryder and Matt Kuchar finished a shot back of Stevens, at 13 under, and tied for third. Rodgers shot a 1-over 73 in the final round and ended up fifth.

    HOW TO FOLLOW: (all times ET)

    Television:

    • Thursday-Friday: 4-7 p.m. (Golf Channel)
    • Saturday: 1-3:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3:30-6 p.m. (NBC).
    • Sunday: 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)

    PGA TOUR LIVE:

    ThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
    Stream 1Main feed: 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Main feed: 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Main feed: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Main feed: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured group: 4-7 p.m.Featured group: 4-7 p.m.Featured group: 1-6 p.m.Featured group: 1-6 p.m.
    Stream 2Marquee: 9:15 a.m.-4 p.m.Marquee: 9:15 a.m.-4 p.m.Marquee: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.Marquee: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured group: 4-7 p.m.Featured group: 4-7 p.m.Featured group: 1-6 p.m.Featured group: 1-6 p.m.
    Stream 3Featured groups: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.Featured groups: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.Featured groups: 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m.Featured groups: 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured hole: 4-7 p.m.Featured hole: 4-7 p.m.Featured hole: 1-6 p.m.Featured hole: 1-6 p.m.
    Stream 4Featured holes: 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m.Featured holes: 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m.Featured holes: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.Featured holes: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Featured hole: 4-7 p.m.Featured hole: 4-7 p.m.Featured hole: 1-6 p.m.Featured hole: 1-6 p.m.

    PGA TOUR LIVE is available exclusively on ESPN+

    • Main Feed: Primary tournament coverage featuring the best action from across the course
    • Marquee Group: New “marquee group” showcasing every shot from each player in the group
    • Featured Groups: Traditional PGA TOUR LIVE coverage of two concurrent featured groups
    • Featured Holes: Combination of par 3s and iconic or pivotal holes

    Radio on SiriusXM and FREE at PGATOUR.com/liveaudio:

    • Thursday-Friday: 1-7 p.m.
    • Saturday: 3-6 p.m.
    • Sunday: 1-6 p.m.
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