PGA Tour Preview: The Land of the Alamo

Last Week

Satoshi Kodaira sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death to defeat Si Woo Kim, who had serious putting woes coming down the stretch in regulation at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Kodaira, a 28-year-old from Japan, will have full status on the PGA Tour for at least the next two years, something he appears ready to take full advantage of.

Meanwhile, Kim, now in his third PGA Tour season, seems to bring his A-game about once a year. He's a two-time winner, his last coming at the 2017 Players. He missed short putts on the back nine, most notably at the 72nd hole that would have clinched his third Tour title.

Kodaira began the day five shots off the lead, but three opening birdies and another at the seventh put him in the hunt. After a bogey at the eighth, he added three more birdies coming in before a bogey at the 17th left him at 12 under par with close to an hour to kill before the leaders finished. As Kim stumbled with three back-nine birdies, Kodaira continued to wait, hitting balls at the practice range in preparation for a possible playoff. His strategy paid dividends and he'll now be a fixture in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

The tournament organizers and the PGA Tour decided to move Sunday's tee times up several hours and sent the players off both tees in threesomes. It was probably a good move ahead of inclement weather. Unfortunately, the broadcast times on the Golf Channel and CBS were not adjusted accordingly, with no live coverage available for the final round. Instead, TGC chose to show the European Tour live and left the PGA Tour event for tape delay.

In this age of social media and live streaming availability, it took some effort to keep from seeing the final results well before the television broadcast. The decision to move up the finish was made the previous afternoon, so there's no excuse for the lack of live coverage available. Golf Digest reported on Monday that CBS is "re-examining" its policy on the matter.

This Week

Valero Texas Open
San Antonio, Texas
TPC San Antonio - AT&T Oaks, Par 72
Defending Champion: Kevin Chappell - 276


The Valero Texas Open, which began in 1922, is the third oldest PGA Tour event and has the longest tenure in a single city. The tournament has moved around in other ways, including the course venue and the spot on the PGA Tour schedule. It's been held at a number of courses in the San Antonio area and for most of its history took place in the fall. Now it seems to have a good location, where it's been since 2010 and a more favorable place in the schedule. In past tournaments, it was known for low scores, with many winning scores of better than 20 under par.

Despite a field that is not considered one the stronger ones on the Tour, there is a fairly strong list of major winners as champions in the event. It includes Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Burke, Jr., Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino, Justin Leonard, and Zach Johnson, among others. With five PGA Tour events in the state of Texas, the namesake tournament is generally considered the weakest of the group.

2018 Field

* Seventeen of the top 26 finishers from last year's tournament are in the field

* None of the top 10, three of the top 20, and 16 of the top 50 in FedEx Cup points

* One of the top 10, one of the top 20, and eight of the top 50 in the World Golf ranking

* Twenty-one countries represented

* Sixteen colleges have three or more former players represented: Florida (6), Texas A&M (5), Georgia (4), Georgia Tech (6), Arkansas (4), Texas (4), Oklahoma State (4), Alabama (3), Arkansas (3), UNLV (3), Yonsei (3), San Diego State (3), Vanderbilt (3), Washington (3), South Carolina-Aiken (3), Arizona State (3), Arizona (3)

* Oldest Player: Bob Estes (52)

* Youngest Player: Joaquin Niemann (19)

* Major Champions (11): Ernie Els (4), Zach Johnson (2), Retief Goosen (2), Graeme McDowell, Stewart Cink, Martin Kaymer, Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Sergio Garcia, Jimmy Walker

* Total Tour Victories: 261 (Ernie Els, 19)

* Total Major Victories: 16 (Ernie Els, 4)

What to Look For

As noted above, the full field event is lacking most of the top players both in the FedEx points standings and in the Official World Golf Rankings. There are several players that are coming off strong performances at the RBC Heritage, including Luke List, who was tied for the lead beginning play on Sunday but finished one shot out of the playoff. He's a player that is ready to break through with a win, with his length always an advantage, even at the tight Harbour Town Golf Links last week. With four par-5s on the layout, the long hitters will be looking for low scores.

Billy Horschel also seemed to find some magic the first three days but like List, stumbled to a final round 72. Since no one has gone particularly low since the move to the TPC San Antonio, I would expect something in the 13- to 15-under par range to be good enough to at least reach a playoff.

Kevin Krest is the author of the entertaining PK Frazier series of sports suspense novels and the co-host of the weekly "The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports" broadcast. His books can be found on

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