Golf

10 Players to Watch at Valero Texas Open

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMarch 24, 2014

10 Players to Watch at Valero Texas Open

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    Phil Mickelson headlines the field at the Valero Texas Open.
    Phil Mickelson headlines the field at the Valero Texas Open.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson headlines the field this week at the Valero Texas Open. He has not had much success thus far in 2014 and is trying to find his game prior to the Masters in two weeks.

    The Texas Open has been held since 1922 and past winners include Hogan, Snead, Palmer and Trevino.

    It is played on the 7,435 yard par-72 TPC San Antonio golf course. 

    Martin Laird is the defending champion and will be looking for a piece of the $6.2 million purse.

    Here is a listing of 10 players to watch this week as the PGA Tour draws closer to the Masters.

     

10. Ryan Palmer

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    Ryan Palmer is a native of Texas and would love to win in San Antonio.
    Ryan Palmer is a native of Texas and would love to win in San Antonio.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Ryan Palmer grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and was a member of the Texas A&M golf team.

    He is having his best start on tour with three top-10 finishes in his last five starts.

    He finished T-8 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and was runner-up at both the Humana Classic and the Honda Classic.

    He has already earned $1.26 million this season and is ranked No. 62 in the world.

    A win would also get him into the Masters.

9. Ryan Moore

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    Ryan Moore has four top-10 finishes this season.
    Ryan Moore has four top-10 finishes this season.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Ryan Moore won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in the wrap-around schedule and has three more top-10 finishes this season. 

    He has earned over $2 million and is No. 10 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 34 on the world rankings.

    He has a total of three PGA Tour wins and is one of the most consistent performers on tour.

8. Ernie Els

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    Ernie Els finished fourth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
    Ernie Els finished fourth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Ernie Els' only top-10 finish this season came at the WGC-Accenture Match Play when he lost the consolation match to Rickie Fowler.

    He has not had a good year thus far and missed the cut in his last start at the Valspar Championship.

    With the Masters just two weeks away, he is looking to get his game in shape to slip on a green jacket. 

7. Matt Every

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    Matt Every just won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
    Matt Every just won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    Prior to his win this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Matt Every had four top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season.

    His first tour win gives him a two-year exemption and makes him eligible for the lucrative WGC events and the majors.

    The $1.1 million first-place check will also put him near $2 million total earnings for the year and will move him into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. 

6. Chesson Hadley

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    Chesson Hadley won in Puerto Rico.
    Chesson Hadley won in Puerto Rico.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Chesson Hadley missed six cuts early in the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, but he has played well the last four weeks.

    He finished T-24 at the Honda Classic before winning in Puerto Rico. He posted a T-14 at the Valspar Championship and was among the leaders in the Arnold Palmer Invitational until a final round 79 moved him down the leaderboard to finish T-26.

    He has won $1.2 million this season, and the win in Puerto Rico assures him of a spot on tour for the next two years.

    Hadley is one of the young guys on tour that have the confidence to win every time they tee it up. 

5. Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson is trying to get his game ready for Augusta.
    Phil Mickelson is trying to get his game ready for Augusta.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Phil Mickelson is No. 5 in the world golf rankings but No. 91 in the FedEx Cup race.

    He has not had one top-10 finish in seven starts this season.

    He missed the cut at the Honda Classic and finished T-16 at Trump National Doral in his last two starts.

    Mickelson will play both the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open to prepare for the Masters.

4. Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed is one of the hottest golfers on tour this year.
    Patrick Reed is one of the hottest golfers on tour this year.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Patrick Reed has two wins in 11 starts this season and has earned over $3 million. He is No. 2 in the FedEx Cup race and No. 22 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

    In addition to his two wins this year, he won the 2013 Wyndham Championship in a playoff over Jordan Spieth last August.

    He is playing with a ton of confidence and expects to win every time out.

    Reed has a go-for-broke style and will never be the most consistent golfer, but with his game he is always a threat to win.

3. Jimmy Walker

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    Jimmy Walker has three wins this season.
    Jimmy Walker has three wins this season.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Jimmy Walker grew up in Oklahoma and attended Baylor University in Texas.

    He has cooled off slightly since his third win of the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but he has nine top-25 finishes in his 11 starts this year.

    With $3.8 million in earnings, he is No. 1 in the FedEx Cup race and No. 27 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

    Walker now resides in San Antonio and this is a home game for him.

2. Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth attended the University of Texas.
    Jordan Spieth attended the University of Texas.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth has only missed one cut in 10 starts this year.

    He finished runner-up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and has seven top-25 finishes.

    Spieth has earned $1.6 million this season and is No. 13 on the world rankings.

    He has not won since the John Deere Classic last July, and he would love a win in Texas before heading to Augusta. 

1. Zach Johnson

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    Zach Johnson has won twice at the Valero Texas Open.
    Zach Johnson has won twice at the Valero Texas Open.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    In addition to having a very solid year thus far on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, Zach Johnson won the Valero Texas Open in 2008 and 2009.

    He won the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions and has four top-10 finishes in just 10 starts this year.

    Johnson is No. 9 in the FedEx Cup and No. 10 in the world.

    He is one of the most consistent players on tour, and the TPC San Antonio golf course fits his game.

     

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