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5 Key Storylines Entering Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio

Mike DudurichContributor IApril 2, 2013

5 Key Storylines Entering Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio

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    As the PGA Tour drags the rest of us toward warm weather and finds itself in San Antonio, Texas, golf fans have their hearts pining for Augusta and the Masters.

    But there’s plenty to keep an eye on as the tour wraps up a back-to-back stay in the Lone Star State.

    A good golf course, a good field (relatively speaking considering it’s a week before a major championship) and a great deal of history make this an event worthy of your attention.

    Here are five storylines as we head into Thursday’s first round.

A New Warm-Up for the Masters

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    For the first time in its history, the Valero Texas Open finds itself as the warm-up for the Masters.

    The Shell Houston Open has been in that slot on the schedule for several years, and the Redstone Golf Club has been groomed to simulate conditions at Augusta National Golf Club.

    It worked out this year that an extra weekend on the calendar made it necessary to reposition the Valero Open.

    The Shell Houston Open goes back to its regular spot in advance of the Masters next year.

    The TPC at San Antonio has been softened somewhat from last year.

    Just what kind of tuneup for Augusta will it be?

A Ticket to the Masters on the Line

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    A victory for a player in the field this week who isn’t already in the Masters field will require some hurried arrangements for the winner.

    He’ll need to get from San Antonio to Augusta, Ga., since that win comes with a starting time a week from Thursday in the Masters.

    Talk about pressure?

    Sunday’s final round ought to have plenty.

    Jordan Speith, Bud Cauley, Charlie Beljan, are you ready for this?

Ben Curtis Has a Chance to Do Something Special This Week

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    Ben Curtis might very well be the least-heralded Open champion in the history of the event.

    He won in 2003 and only three more times on the PGA Tour.

    But he’ll be trying to get into the record book again this week.

    One of those wins was the 2012 Valero Texas Open, and if he’s able to win this year, he’ll become just the third man to win the event back-to-back.

    Justin Leonard did so in 2000-01, and Zack Johnson did it in 2008-09.

Rookies Will Get Reshuffled After This Week

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    It’s a big week for rookies on the PGA Tour.

    After the Valero Texas Open, the rookie list will be reshuffled with those playing the best moving to the top of the list that’s used to fill out fields until the next reshuffle.

    John Hahn and David Lingmerth lead the rookie list going into this week and will be among 24 first-year players in the field.

All Eyes Will Be on Rory McIlroy This Week at San Antonio

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    Perhaps the most high-profile story line this week (not to mention the most tired) is that Rory McIlroy had a moment of clarity as he struggled last week at the Shell Houston Open.

    It came to him that it would be a really good idea if he played this week.

    He came to the conclusion that he hadn’t played enough competitive rounds to be in a position to contend at the Masters.

    And it took him January, February and almost all of March to come to this conclusion?

    Really?

    He’s an ultra-talented golfer, but he’s still a kid, and kids do the darndest things.

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