After a quick stop outside the state, the PGA Tour schedule thrusts us right back into Texas for the third Tour stop of 5 during this year.
We are also currently on a stretch of admittedly bland PGA Tour events. Filler stops right before a packed summer schedule. But that doesn’t mean the tournaments are completely worthy of ignoring! There are still storylines from players trying to get their PGA Tour card (the guy with the hat), to old guys trying to make the Ryder Cup team (PMick). Plenty to watch for this week during the Valero Texas Open!
Back to TPC branded courses! The JW Marriott TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks, 7,435 yards, par 72, will host the players this week. Corporate branding really going overboard here. Not only does this have the Marriott brand for the resort (there are two courses here), but this specific course at the resort is sponsored by AT&T. Can’t say I’ve seen the double branding elsewhere.
Design credit goes to Greg Norman, who apparently was “assisted” by Sergio Garcia for whatever that’s worth. A lot of times they put names of famous players as partial course designers. I’m curious how much input Serg had. Actually, I’m curious how much input the Shark (Norman) had. Seems like this could be a case of ghost designing, where a famous person puts their name as designer, but really that’s just for marketing purposes. They have a bunch of underlings who do the actual designing. Then again, could be wrong on that front.
Check out Norman’s description of the course on his janky website here.
Poor Kevin Na
Inevitably, Kevin Na will get some air time this week.
I feel torn talking about this. On one hand, I’m not a fan of mentioning specific player’s miscues, especially because they get mentioned every year a tournament swings around. Bad holes happen, particularly noteworthy bad holes happen as well, and yet the media loves to talk about them as if it’s the funniest thing in the world. I don’t want to be like that media.
On the other hand, it’s going to be mentioned, so by me talking about it here, I’m hoping you know it’s going to be talked about, and that you should just ignore it when you see it.
The event. Kevin Na made a 16 on the par 4 9th hole at TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks.
Things happen. So remember, just ignore this when you hear it mentioned.
The tournament is no longer contested at La Cantera, but I’m going to give it a shoutout anyway for having one of the best backdrops on Tour! Lot of courses on Tour have a famous monument associated with them. For example last week at the RBC, we had the striped lighthouse off 18. At La Cantera in past Valero Texas Opens, we had the roller coaster from the nearby Six Flags. Pretty much as iconic as a lighthouse.
But alas, the tournament is no longer played there, and we are left with the mere memory of that amazing view etched into our collective brains. The current course’s only iconic image is the resort’s hotel and swimming pool in the background.
Texas is known for a few things. Guns, NASCAR, cowboy apparel (both football and ranching related), Jesus (both religious and Mexican), and wind. The most important in terms of playing golf is, of course, wind!
Last year during the morning of the first round, the wind touched 38 mph at times. 38 mph is actually tough for us sitting here to comprehend, but I remember watching and don’t understand how players were getting around. Never fun when you have to worry about the wind blowing your ball off the green.
This week there isn’t expected to be this much wind, but possible storms in the forecast could bring some wind for sure.
Ok fine, despite my general dislikeness for Bryson DeChambeau, who will only be known as “The Hat” from now on so I don’t have to say his name, I’ll admit he’s pretty good at golf. He was going to be in the field this week with a sponsor’s exemption, but because of his 5th place finish last week at the Heritage, he gets into the field with a top 10 exemption meaning he saves one of this 6 remaining sponsor exemptions for later in the year.
I’m sure the rest of the media loves him and his quirkiness and his “I’m just happy to be here” approach, but I’m going to be annoyed at how much airtime he’s going to get. Seems like the tv coverage just vomits up old quotes about him over and over.
“Did you know his irons are the same lengths?!?!?” “Did you know he was a physics major at SMU?!? He’s so smart!” The only thing I’ll say he’s smart at is his personal branding, signing a big deal with Puma / Cobra.
Anyway, he still is a player to watch, just to see if he can get his tour card without going through the web.com tour route. And no, I’m not going to post a picture of his hat. Or his face cause nobody want to see that.
Gonna give Jimmy Walker, the defending champ, a shoutout for seeming to always play great at the beginning of the year, and then falling off the face of the earth to obscurity. He’s yet to win this year however. But since he knows the course, and gets to stay at home during this event even, I’m expecting him to play well. Also, great hat hair.
Also in the field are old guys who haven’t played well in a while — Matt Kuchar, and Hall of Famers Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. All late additions, adding their names within the final 72 hours before the deadline.
You win, you get a pair of black cowboy boots. Definitely cliche, and definitely along the lines of having named holes to make a boring course seem more interesting. The VTO following the train of tournaments who give out prizes to its winners (last week was the tartan jacket). Seems like we might need a list of all winners’ prizes on Tour. Watch out for that in the near future.