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Valero Texas Open. Steve Bowditch Wins First PGA Tour Title

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open LogoSteve Bowditch won his first PGA TOUR title at the Valero Texas Open on the TPC San Antonio golf course

.Bowditch holds on for first win

Steve Bowditch and his first Trophy / Getty Images

Steve carded a final round of +4 over par 76, but his -8 under par total was still enough to lift the trophy. His  final-round score was the highest by a winner since Vijay Singh at the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. The field today averaged a very mediocre  73.8 on a windy day at TPC San Antonio.

Steve said he knew early on that is was going to be a tough day at the office;

“I was able to stay pretty positive, to be honest. After a period of time out there, with the way I was playing, I kind of just accepted the fact that I was going to be playing from cactus, moving rocks, missing putts and just had to deal with it every time. It happened so frequently that it never really surprised me. I was just lucky enough that the wind was up enough today that no one else could squeeze in there and shoot a good score.”

Steve swapped his  putter after the first round, but said that is something he does on an almost weekly basis;

“After I played well on Thursday, with my ball-striking, I thought, ‘Hang on a moment, I might be able to get in contention this week with the way I was hitting the ball.’ I just wanted to go back to a putter that I was completely comfortable with.”

Will Mackenzie and Daniel Summerhayes tied for second place at -7 under par, Will with a final round -2 under par 70, and Daniel a -1 under par 71.

Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe shared fourth place at -6 under par, both of them carding  last rounds of +3 over par 75.

 

Valero Texas Open. Bowditch Bowls Along, While Phil Withdraws.

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open LogoSteve Bowditch bowls happily along in the Valero Texas Open, opening up a three shot lead at TPC San Antonio. Poor Phil pulled a muscle and has had to with-draw.

Steven Bowditch made a late birdie to extend his margin in Texas. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Steve Bowditch / Getty Images

Steve, seeking his first PGA TOUR title, shot a – 4 under par 68 third round to reach -12 under par tournament total at the Valero Texas Open. His score was helped by his good short game, he chipped in on his first two holes, for birdie and then Eagle, which got him off to a great start. He has never slept on a lead before;

‘I’ve won four or five times in between Australia and Web.com. I’ve got a little experience, but not a great deal, especially at this level. I’ve never slept on a lead, so we’ll see how we go.”

” The chip on the first hole calmed my nerves a little bit, it was as easy a chip as you’re going to have out here.”

Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe are tied in second place at -9 under par, while Pat Perez is next in line at -8 under par. These guys must be wondering if Steve is going to continue with his excellent play.

Matt was surprised with his score today, the best round of the week so far at -7 under par 65;

Still surprised to be at 7 under today. It’s not a score I would have thought was out there with these sort of windy conditions.”

Someone said that watching Andrew prepare to hit the ball is like getting teeth pulled.

Phil Mickleson tweaked a muscle in his back and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, he explained what happened;

” My back’s feeling great, my body’s feeling great. I felt as good as I have all year. My speed is back, I was hitting the ball hard, driving it great.I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit it hard, It just killed me and it wouldn’t subside for ten or twelve seconds. I’m going back to San Diego for a couple of days and have a doctor look at it, but there’s really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I’ll be OK to play the Shell in Houston, but I just don’t know.”

Phil’s caddie Jim Bones Mackay thinks it will not stop Phil from playing in the Shell Houston Open next week;

”It’s definitely not his back, it’s his right side. The thing he had been talking about is how good his back had been feeling here. He’ll definitely play Houston, if he can.”

” As you might imagine, he’s trying to get ready for Augusta, he’s hitting a lot of drivers, hitting them harder. He hit one off the first tee, his 10th hole today and just felt a little pain in his side. It continued on for a few minutes and he just decided that he didn’t want to take anything to chance relative to what’s going on the next couple weeks.”

“In a perfect world, he’d love to play Houston. He loves the tournament, loves the city and it’s great preparation for Augusta. Obviously, he’s going to make the right decision relative to what his body’s telling him.”

Valero Texas Open. Bowditch Leads, Marvelous Mickleson Makes Cut.

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open Logo Steve Bowditch leads the Valero Texas Open, and a marvelous round from Phil Mickelson sees him make the cut at TPC San Antonio.

Bowditch leads in Texas

Steve Bowditch / Getty Images

Steve Bowditch holds the lead  for the first time in his career, after a second round -5 under par saw him post -8 under par to top the leaderboard at the Valero Texas Open. His lead could, and should, have been greater except  for carding a double-bogey on his final hole. A poor approach left him with an awkward chip from the side of the green, which he under hit. the next chip still left him short of the cup, resulting in a two putt double bogey. He puts the putting down as enemy number one;

“My putter has really been a big problem this year. I’ve been fighting that, but ball-striking wise has been pretty good. I’m not making many putts at the moment, so most of my birdies have been sort of coming inside of six or five feet. I’ve hit a lot of good wedge shots. I made a couple good par saves on my back nine this afternoon, but all in all it’s been more of hitting my approach shots pretty close.”

“It was a frustrating way to finish, but it is what it is. Hit a couple bad shots on the last hole unfortunately, but all in all, it was good. Happy with it.”

Chad Collins shares  second place, just one shot back of the lead at -7 under par, with Andrew Loupe. Chad  carded one of the low rounds of the day, a -6 under par 66.

Phil Mickelson made a miraculous birdie on his final hole,  TPC San Antonio’s par five 18th, to shoot -2 under par 70 on Friday and make the cut on the number at  +3 over par 147.

Phil Mickelson hit this shot to 5 feet, then made the birdie putt to make the Valero Texas Open cut. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Phil, from here to birdie on the final hole, to make the cut / Getty Images
In certain circles this is known as the Masonic shot, Phil explained his dilemma;
“I was right in between going for the green or playing a little bit to the right trying to get up and down, and I hit a very close to being a great shot and it went in the water. Unfortunately, it just barely went in where I hit my shot. It looked like the water overlapped the grass and it was not that hard of a shot. There was a rock that I hit but, I didn’t see it at address.”
” I haven’t had the success I’ve wanted to early on at the start of the season. I want to get in contention, I want to have a competitive round and work on playing proper golf and managing the game and the rounds.”
Two weeks ago, Danny Lee had held a share of the first-round lead at the Valspar Championship, but slumped to a second round 79, to miss the cut. Unfortunately he has repeated the fatal feat this week at TPC San Antonio, going from the top of the leaderboard to sink lower than a snakes belly after rounds of 68 and 83. Danny had only one birdie Friday and made nine bogeys in addition to a triple bogey on his sad trip to an early exit.

Valero Texas Open. 1st Round play Suspended. Fog in Texas ?

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open Logo

TPC San Antonio was shrouded in fog during the opening round of the Valero Texas Open, causing a suspension in Play.

Valero Texas Open - Round One    Valero Texas Open - Round One

                                          Pat Perez   and Danny Lee/ Getty Images

At the time the horn blew Pat Perez and Danny Lee had completed their first rounds and sat at the top of the leaderboard of the Valero Texas Open. They both carded opening rounds of -4 under par 68. The fog kept temperatures in the 50s before it burned off and gave way to sun and readings in the 80s.

Pat spoke of the conflicting temperatures;

“This morning it was freezing, and I hit balls on the practice range in four layers of clothes. Now, I’m sweating.”

What is worrying, and noteworthy, is the form of Phil Mickleson, who shot a +5 over par 77 opening round, to fall nine strokes back of the lead.  That horrible 77 was Phil’s highest score since he shot a 78 in August in the PGA Championship.

It seems Phil was as surprised as the rest of us;

“I had been playing real well at home, so to come out and play like this is disappointing, just didn’t feel quite sharp. I didn’t putt well, I had a couple of three-putts that hurt. Iron play wasn’t great. I didn’t drive it bad, until that last hole.”

In his previous two starts, Phil missed the cut in the Honda Classic, and then tied for 16th at Doral in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. This is not good preparation for The Masters, just two weeks away. Phil will play in the Houston Open before heading to Augusta National.

Looks like Phil will have plenty of time to practice, making the cut here is a long way off, currently T 135 out of a field of 144.

Valero Texas Open. Laird of the Manor.

Martin is the Laird of the Manor, with his win at the Valero Texas Open, on the TPC San Antonio, AT&T Oaks Course.

 

Foot on the gas

Martin Laird / Cohen / Getty Images

Martin won by two shots, conjuring up an amazing final bogey free round of -9 under par 63, for a tournament total of -14 under par, to win the Valero Texas Open. He needed something special to hold off a resurgent Rory McIlroy, who had a lovely last round -6 under par 66 for his total of -12 under par, giving him second place on his own.

This win puts Martin into the field next week at Augusta National, the Masters. Martin said he had felt pretty confident about his golf game;

I came in here quietly confident, even though my record this year has been poor to say the least. But golf’s a funny game, doesn’t matter what you did two weeks ago. It turns around pretty quickly. I know how good Rory is, but it doesn’t matter if it’s Rory or Jim or Billy, if someone’s behind me making birdies like they were, I know I’ve got to keep making birdies. That was a pretty strong leaderboard at the top there.” 

Rory was happy with his game and his form going into next weeks Major;

“I feel like my game’s in really good shape going into next week. A round like that gives me a nice bit of confidence. I thought if I got to 12 under today that might have been good enough, but Martin just played too good and holed so many putts. It was hard to keep up. Everything I wanted to accomplish this week, I accomplished. I’m very happy that I’m going into next week with my game in good shape and my confidence level pretty high. I think it’s just about getting my short game as sharp as possible around there, I think everything else is pretty good. Iron play is good. Driving the ball,  I didn’t quite drive the ball that well today but my 3-wood was working pretty good.”

There were three players tied in third position at -11 under par, Jim Furyk, Charlie Hoffman and Billy Horschel, the long time leader of this tournament, and runner-up last week. Billy put his failure to convert a winning lead down to nerves;

“Everyone’s going to have butterflies, I don’t care if it’s Tiger Woods or Joe Schmo at the golf course, you’re going to have butterflies, and you have to learn how to deal with it.”

 

 

 

Valero Texas Open. Billy Battles On.

Billy Horschel battles on at the top of the leaderboard at the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio,  AT&T Oaks Course.

Billy's ballgame

Billy Horschel / Cohen / Getty Images

Billy Horschel shot a third round -2 under par 70, to lead the field at the Valero Texas Open by a comfortable two shots with a -10 under par total. Billy is full of confidence, and is no shrinking violet when it comes to making statements about his ability;

” I’ve never been star struck out here, I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that’s put their time in out here. But at the same time, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now. I didn’t even know I fell out of the lead until someone just told me,  I couldn’t care less whether I was leading after eight holes or whether I’m leading right now. I knew that I was playing well. I’m trying to stay loose, I think I’ve learned in the past that the looser I am, the more it helps.”

Tied in second place at -8 under par are Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman, Jim with a third round of -3 under par and Charley had a -2 under par score on the day. Jim will partner Billy for the final round, thanks to the former U.S. Champion’s consistent form from tee to green, Jim hit fifteen greens in regulation, a remarkable feat as the San Antonio wind switched to the South for the first time during the tournament.

“It was funny to wake up and have the wind the dead opposite. What I was hitting hybrid into Thursday and Friday, I’m hitting 9-iron today.  I’m glad I got a couple rounds under my belt before that wind switched.”

Sharing fourth spot at -6 under par, are Ryan Palmer, with a -4 under par 68 round today; Bob Estes, -3 under par  69, and World Number two Rory McIlroy, scrambling home with -1 under par round of 71. Rory is now four shots off the lead and will need a really low round tomorrow if he is to contest this title. It seems unlikely as he only managed to get on seven out of the fourteen 14 fairways, this was for the second time in the tournament, continuing his trend of up-and-down play this year after an off-season equipment change.

” It was a tough scoring day, It was hard to really go low under par. I probably should have been a couple better, but at the end of the day, it’s still a solid round, and I still have a chance coming into tomorrow.”

Bob Estes is not even thinking about the Masters, just tomorrow;

” I don’t like talking about it, I’m just thinking about tomorrow. There’s plenty to stress out about, think about, playing in this wind. It’s just course management, 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.”

If the wind does blow at up to 25 mph tomorrow, I guess anything could happen, but I don’t expect Billy Horschel to let another victory chance slip through his fingers.

Valero Texas Open. Billy Horschel Bounces Back.

Billy Horschel bounced back from last weeks disappointment at the Shell Houston Open, to lead after the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

Here he comes again

Billy Horschel / Halleran / Getty Images

Billy Horschel is two shots clear of the field in San Antonio, courtesy of his second round of -4 under par 68, for a tournament total of -8 under par. Last week at the Shell Houston Open Billy finished tied in second place, his last round of -6 under par just one shot off the lead, and this week is continuing to show his recent good form.

There are three players within one shot of the lead, Daniel Summerhays, Steven Bowditch and Charley Hoffman. Charlie always seems to play well in San Antonio, but not sure why, maybe its the Mexican food;

” I don’t know, I played good over at La Cantera when it was played over there, and ever since it’s moved here to TPC  I’ve played well also. I hit a bunch of fairways and gave myself an opportunity to make a lot of birdies, hopefully I can keep this going this weekend.”

Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy are in a group of players who are at -5 under par, three shots off the lead. Jim only arrived here the night before the pro-am and only managed to get in four holes before rain and lightning halted play at the AT&T Oaks Course. Jim has two drivers in his bag this week and hopes the gamble works out well enough to give him encouragement to take them to Augusta National next week. He tried to get some information on-line;

”  Tried to go online to get an idea where guys were hitting balls off the tee. I wanted to give it a practice run, I’m having a hard time. I may have to switch shafts out. I’ll make a couple of adjustments and try to play through it. There aren’t many birdies at Augusta anymore either. If they lengthen it out another 400 yards, there would be no birdies at Augusta.”

Rory showed his greenhorn credentials in the desert, searching for a miss-placed tee shot off the fairway he discovered that the cactus on this course may be smaller than the ones that soar up through the Arizona desert, but they spike you just as hard. He said of the incident;

” I shouldn’t have been there anyways, so I guess it was deserved, getting a, whatever it was,  off the cactus.”

Rory thinks he is in fine shape for this tournament, and Augusta, after reaching two par fives here in two shots;

“I think that shows where my game is, those two par fives are probably the toughest to hit in two with how small the greens are. It shows that my ball-striking is there. If I can keep hitting shots like that into par fives, I’ll be doing OK.”

Valero Texas Open. Matt Bettencourt & Peter Tomasulo Lead after 1st Round

Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo opened the Valero Texas Open, both with  -5 under par 67, to lead by just one shot at TPC San Antonio, in Texas.

Two for five

 Peter Tomasulo and Matt Bettencourt / Getty Images

Matt Bettencourt overcame the severe asthma problems that had been dogging him, thanks to some new medication. Matt said he was never worried about his game, just his health;

” My game hasn’t been the concern, I’ve gone back and forth from three to four different inhalers and some different medications, which has helped my health, but I haven’t been able to play golf with it at all.”

Peter Tomasulo was happy to get round with no bogies, for his -5 under par round;

‘ I just played a solid round of golf to go around here with no bogies.  We got a good end of the draw, I think, with the weather calming down late in the day.”

Padraig Harrington and Billy Horschel are tied in third place, along with Bryce Molder and Harris English, all of them at -4 under par. Padraig just coming back from a snowy Ireland said it was not as cold over the Atlantic;

” Last week back in Ireland, it was snowing, and I didn’t feel as cold.”

Billy Horschel said he had another good day on the golf course, after challenging last week;

“All in all, it’s a good day, I could hit the ball a little bit better, but I did a good job of managing it and making a couple putts.”

World number two, Rory McIlroy, entered the tournament as a final opportunity to gain some form in time for next week’s Masters at Augusta National, he opened with an even-par 72 and is tied for 45th. Rory said his mistakes are more mental than physical;

” More mental than anything else, It’s just about limiting those mistakes. It’s definitely more mental mistakes than physical.”

There are ten players,  including Jim Furyk and Brian Davis, who are only two shots back of the leaders, they are at -3 under par for the tournament.

Shell Houston Open. Darren Points the Way and Wins

Logo Image

Darren Andrew Points won the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club on Sunday.

D.A. Points at the Shell Houston Open

Darren Andrew Points / Getty Images

D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open with a thirteen foot par saving putt on the 18th hole at Redstone, to capture his second career victory with a tournament total of -16 under par. His final round was a solid -6 under par 66, the same score as Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel, who both tied for second place at -15 under par.

Darren, who is now going to the Masters at Augusta said he never counted himself out;

“I never count myself out, I never just chalk it up like, `Oh, this year is over with.’ I’ve never felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that like, `Boom! There it is.’ And there I go. Fortunately, it was this week and I capitalized on it. I’ve been having a really tough year, to have a putt to win, you want that starting out every week. I would have liked for it to have been closer. I never not think it’s on my radar, I want to win. I want to win more than once. I want to have the opportunity to win majors. I want to play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cup. These are things I want to do, and I know I’m capable of doing.” 

Henrik is also going to Augusta;

” I said to my caddie walking up 18, no matter what, we’re playing for a green jacket in a couple of weeks, that will be nice.”

Rory McIlroy,  the world’s No. 2 player finished his week at the Shell Houston Open by making a 25-foot birdie putt for a 70 and a tie for 45th place. A long way from where he wanted to be, and not a good omen for Augusta National. Rory will now play the Valero Texas Open next week before heading to the Masters.

 

 

Shell Houston Open. Wheatcroft Weaves Magic

The Shell Houston Open has a qualifier, Steve Wheatcroft, at the top of the leaderboard after the second round at the Redstone Golf Club, on the Tournament Course in Texas.

More than qualified

Steve Wheatcroft / Halleran / Getty Images

Steve Wheatcroft only just qualified for the Shell Houston Open carded another round of -5 under par 67 to lead the tournament at -10 under par. Unfortunately for Steve he has no status on the PGA Tour, and only conditional status on the Web.com Tour, so Monday qualifiers are the only way to get into tournaments, and he hates them;

” Monday qualifiers are terrible. They’re just not fun, plain and simple. I was on the PGA TOUR in ’07, played terribly. I had no status, so I had to be back to Monday qualifiers and pre-qualifiers the next year. I hate them. If I can be on top of the leaderboard at this point, I know I can keep playing well, there’s no reason to think I can’t. I’ve never won on the PGA TOUR. I’ve won on the Web.com Tour, I’ve won by 12. I know I can keep going forward. Who knows? I could shoot 61 tomorrow. I could shoot 81 tomorrow. I really don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and think about it too much. I’m going to think about the first tee ball and we’ll go from there.”

D.A. Points is still there in the mix, tied in second place with Jason Kokrak at -9 under par, Darren had a -1 under par second round, making only one birdie as his putter went suddenly cold;

“I made everything yesterday and made nothing today. To be one shot back and be right in the mix is huge.”

Jason Kokrak had a second round -3 under par 69, and said he was happy for Steve, but would like to overtake him on Sunday;

“I’m happy for him, I’m happy he’s doing well. Hopefully, I can go out there and overtake the lead. Hopefully, I overtake him late Sunday.”

Two big name players who just made the cut on the number, -1 under par, were Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

Rory was happy to be playing the week-end, not with any hopes of contending, he is just seeking confidence. He will now get even more rounds in before the Masters, because he feels he needs more rounds to get ready for the Masters, Rory has decided to enter the Valero Texas Open next week;

“It’s a weekend where I can have a couple more rounds and try and get confidence in what I’m doing. The game is fickle, you make a couple of birdies, a few good shots, and your confidence goes up. A few bad ones, and it goes down a bit. I hit a couple of drives, and 17 is a good example, when I let it go and it’s fine. It gets out there.”

Phil decided to play Redstone on Friday with two 3-woods in the bag, though one of them is so strong it acts like a driver, and he is still up-beat about his chances;

“If I can play like I did the back nine, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie chances.”

 

 

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