By Sam McPherson
Even in a PGA Tour event that didn’t feature a lot of big names on Sunday afternoon’s back nine, the Valero Texas Open proved once again just how exciting golf can be. Longtime Tour veteran Charley Hoffman shot a closing 69, 12-under par, at TPC San Antonio. That included a birdie on the final hole to win the Texas Open title and a whole lot of money.
Hoffman’s fourth PGA Tour win earned him $1,116,000 and 500 FedEx points, but it was the close finish among several contenders that provided so much drama for fans. Third-round leader, Ricky Barnes, shot 74 on Sunday, while five other golfers posted sub-70 scores.
Among them was Patrick Reed, who was paired up with Hoffman. Reed shot 69 yesterday and also birdied the final hole, but that left him at 11-under for the tournament, one stroke back. Chad Collins also posted a 69 to finish third at 10-under par. Kevin Chappell (68 on Sunday), Ryan Palmer (69), Martin Piller (70), Billy Horschel (70) and Barnes tied for fourth place at 9-under.
Piller had a two-stroke lead after he birdied the 12th hole. But he found the sand off the tee of the par-3 13th, and then overshot the green on his bunker shot. The double bogey cost him dearly. The two-putt put the tournament back in play for Hoffman and Reed, setting up the exciting final-hole birdie drama.
Reed, born in San Antonio, had the crowd behind him at the 94th Texas Open. But maybe the pressure was too much. Reed hit just 10 of 18 greens on Sunday and needed just 24 putts to shoot his 69, Perhaps better approach shots could have earned him the victory.
Unlike the past two weeks at the Masters and the RBC Heritage Open, the top eight finishers at the Texas Open — and 17 of the top 20 — were Americans. South Africa’s Branden Grace, who won at Harbour Town, finished in a tie for ninth place at 8-under. He was the highest international finisher.
The big names weren’t atop the leaderboard in San Antonio this weekend, as Luke Donald (-7), Matt Kuchar (-2) and Phil Mickelson (MC) didn’t figure much in the storylines. Donald shot a 74 on Sunday to take himself out of the chase, while Kuchar couldn’t manage a single round in the 60s. Mickelson’s opening-round 77 basically ruined his chances.
Next On The Tee: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
The PGA Tour stays in the South with the Zurich Classic, played on the TPC Louisiana course in Avondale, Louisiana. The overall purse is expected to be around $7 million. Last year England’s Justin Rose posted a 266, the lowest ever for the tournament on this course. He will be back to defend his title against recent Zurich Classic champions Seung-Yul Noh (2014), Horschel (2013), Jason Dufner (2012) and Jason Bohn (2010). Bubba Watson (2011) will not be in the field this week.
Pete Dye designed TPC Louisiana with help from 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington. The Zurich Classic has been played on this course since 2005, with the exception of 2006, when the English Turn Golf & Country Club of New Orleans hosted the event, as the area recovered from Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. The tournament, under various names, dates back to 1938 on the PGA Tour.
Hoffman will go for two in a row on the Tour at the Zurich Classic; Collins also will try to ride his Texas Open momentum to the win in Avondale. Barnes looks to put his disappointing Sunday in San Antonio behind him. Big names scheduled to play in the Zurich Classic this week include two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, three-time PGA Tour winner Rickie Fowler, 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and three-time major champion Vijay Singh.
The TPC Louisiana course plays 7,399 yards and is a par 72.
Favorites: Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
Players to Watch: Ricky Barnes, Chad Collins, Billy Horschel, Charley Hoffman
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.