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Preview: Valero Texas Open

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The last opportunity for players to gear up for the season’s first major is in San Antonio, Texas, home of the Valero Texas Open.

Defending champion, Ben Curtis, along with the world’s No. 2 Rory McIlroy, lead an impressive field this week that includes four of the top-15 players in the world.

Curtis is hoping to do what few have been able to accomplish by successfully defending the Texas Open title. Only two players have been able to win back-to-back in the past 13 years of the tournament and both champions are currently playing. Justin Leonard won in 2000 and 2001 and Zach Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.

Curtis won last year over Matt Every and John Huh by two shots. It was a grueling back-nine for Curtis, who fought with his putter most of the way. The win was his first in six years.

Curtis admited this year did not start out as he would have liked, but feels his game has had more positive momentum lately.

Curtis admitted to reporters on Tuesday that he still has plenty to work on this year.

“I haven’t played great this year,” Curtis said in his press conference. “I’ve had a couple of decent finishes, but just trying to get the snow off from home (in Kent, Ohio). It seems like I was playing nicely (before missing the cut at the Shell Houston Open), then the last four holes the driver just disappeared. I hit two of the worst drives I’ve hit all year and it cost me four shots.”

McIlroy is not a stranger with the struggles of the game and like Curtis, is hoping for more positives signs of improvement this week.

McIlroy is a late entry into this week’s field and is delaying his scheduled mission trip to Haiti to work on improving his game. McIlroy believes he really needs one more tournament and a few more competitive rounds before heading to Augusta next week.

McIlroy further explained to the Irish Times why he feels he needs to play this week:

“I’m there to play competitive golf. If it was a par three (competition), I would go and play it just because that’s what I need. I need competitive golf and I need committing to targets. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short course or long course or wide course or whatever, as long as I have a scorecard in my hand, that’s what I need.”

If Rory needs to commit to targets, the Oaks course at TPC San Antonio will force him to do just that. With its narrow fairways, deep bunkers, underbrush and rocks surrounding various holes, the course will force you to focus.

The Texas Open has a rich history. Though it has been held at different venues through the years, San Antonio has always hosted the event since its inaugural year in 1922.

To say this is a warm-up tournament to the Masters seems to undermine the history of the tournament and accomplishments of its past champions. Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer have all won in San Antonio.

The player who wins this week will know they have been challenged and will know they are in good company. Just ask Curtis.

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Kevin has experience in web, multimedia and has worked in both broadcast and print media. He has been a contributing writer for Turner Sports Network, Bleacher Report, GolfWRX, LIVESTRONG, Site Pro News and has had work featured on latimes.com.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open

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Ready your Las Vegas puns and prepare to let it ride — GolfWRX was live this week from Sin City for the Shriners Children’s Open from TPC Summerlin.

Our photos from Vegas this week outnumber the dreams of slot machine riches and jackpot glory from the U.S. gambling capital.

General galleries? We’ve got ’em. WITBs? How about 17 — including the great Spencer Levin?

In addition, we have photos of the new Titleist Pro V1, new Ping G430, prototype irons and shafts — plus, limited-edition Vegas-inspired putter covers.

Grab a seat at the slot machine of your choosing and pull that lever!

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

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Check out Scotty Cameron’s 2022 “Las Vegas” putter cover

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Las Vegas traditions include both losing your shirt at the craps table and limited-edition putter covers from Scotty Cameron at the Shriners Children’s Open.

Last year’s “Let’s Roll” cover featured an abundance of red dice against a green background. 

Prior to that, the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign served as inspiration.

This year, Cameron and Company went with a silver cover with a traditional Vegas showgirl, “777,” jackpot, a pair of cards totaling blackjack, and more.

Check out Scotty’s 2022 “Las Vegas” covers, below.

Check out more photos from the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open here.

 

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Tour Rundown: Canadian Thanksgiving arrives early at Sanderson Farms | Fox, Hull

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Out in Mesquite, Nevada, on October 1st,  Martin Borgmeier won the Pro Long Drive 2022 Open Division championship with a blast of 426 yards. Quite the achievement for the German long-drive specialist, and certainly something that flies not quite on the pro golf radar. You have to wonder when the world tours will figure out a way to leverage the sideshow and main events and create even greater content for golf fans. For now, we have four events to run down from the past two weeks, and we’ll explain all about that as we move through four of the world’s great tours. Let’s have an October Rundown, whaddayasay?

PGA Tour: Canadian Thanksgiving arrives early at Sanderson Farms

It seems like forever since we’ve seen overtime in professional golf. We watched the Packers and the Patriots do battle in an extra session on Sunday evening, but golf has gone a few weeks since a good, old-fashioned, playoff. Thanks to Sepp Straka and Mackenzie Hughes, we were gifted some bonus golf in Jackson, Mississippi.

Both Straka and Hughes finished round four at 17-under par. Straka began the day two shots behind Mark Hubbard, with Hughes starting one back of the lead. Hubbard struggled on day four, ultimately finishing in a tie for fifth after 74. Straka notched six birdies on his scorecard, against one bogey, to move up two spots in the standings. Hughes posted four birdies of his own, against a solitary hiccough, and away the pair went to the 18th tee. After pars the first pass through, the duo returned to the final tee deck for a second crack at a resolution.

With light dwindling, both players found the fairway. From 164 yards, Hughes sent an iron skyward, landing it about fifteen feet right of the hole. Straka’s approach, from a bit closer, drew a bit past the stick and released to the side fringe, about 25 feet distant. Straka’s putt had great weight, but drifted left at the end. Hughes lined up his putt and delivered a dagger to the center of the hole. Canadian Thanksgiving had, indeed, arrived ahead of schedule.

DP World Tour: Dunhill Links is Fox’s second win of 2022

There’s is something Hoganesque about the career trajectory of New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. The 35-year old didn’t claim a major-tour title until his 32nd year, and that came in the Super Six (a great event if there ever was one) in Perth, in 2019. Fast forward to 2022, post pandemic, and Fox claims a second DPWT title, this time in United Arab Emirates, in February. Now it’s October, where the trees are bare of all they wear. Fox finds himself in the Kingdom of Golf, in the auld towne itself, St. Andrews. On Saturday at Kingsbarns, Fox posted a stellar 65, but still found himself chasing the leader, Richard Mansell. On Sunday at the Old Course, Fox had his stumbles, but found seven birdies around the loop to post a 64. When Mansell closed with 76, Fox had an unexpected, one-shot triumph over England’s Callum Shinkwin and Sweden’s Alex Noren.

LPGA: The Ascendant is second stateside win for Charley

England’s Charley Hull claimed her first LPGA win in 2016, at the Tour Championship. No one anticipated that six years would pass before trophy number two found its way to her hands. On Sunday, Hull stared down Lydia Ko, Xiyu Lin, and a host of other birdie machines, and eaked out a one-shot win at The Colony, in Texas.

Hull had taken over the lead on Friday, on the strength of a 64. Her two-shot advantage over Lin went away on Saturday, when she posted her highest round of the week, a 71. Knowing that low was the order of the day on Sunday, Hull began her march early. Four birdies in the first seven holes gave her the lead, but a bogey at the eighth brought a halt to thoughts of an early coronation. Hull regrouped on the inward half, ran off three birdies from 12 through 14, followed by another at 17. It was a good thing that she did.

Intent on chasing her down, Hiyu Lin closed in furious fashion. A birdie at 13 was followed by a birdie-eagle stretch at 16-17, and the lead was but one. Needing birdie at the last, Lin could only manage par, and the title went home with Hull.

PGA Tour Champions: PURE Insurance Championship to Flesch

Tour Champions was off this week, before resuming its schedule in Jacksonville, Florida. Last week, the PURE Championship along the Monterey Peninsula in California hosted junior amateurs from across the country. The First Tee saw these representatives paired with the senior professionals, and both sides of the age meter put on quite a show. Paul Stankowski and Ken Duke, both journeymen with a few titles on their resumes, shared the lead after 36 holes. With everyone at Pebble Beach for the final round, the playing field was level.

Making runs at the title were Ernie Els (64 for -10), Steven Alker (69 for same) and Stankowski (70 to tie the first two.) Facing a seven-feet birdie putt at the last for 68 and minus-eleven was portsider Steve Flesch. We wouldn’t be writing about him if he didn’t make it, and the lefty drained the curving putt to lock up another Tour Champions title.

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