A collective stumble by the final group during Sunday's final round at the Valero Texas Open set the stage for a duel between Charley Hoffman and Patrick Reed down the stretch at TPC San Antonio.
On the strength a clutch birdie to end his round of three-under 69, Hoffman posted 12 under par overall to beat Reed by one stroke. Below is a look at the top performers for the week:
|2016 Valero Texas Open Leaderboard, Top Payouts|
|Pos.||Player||Scores||To Par||Prize Money|
|T9||Harold Varner III||69-72-70-69||-8||$161,200|
Golf Channel's Justin Ray noted how much Hoffman has owned TPC San Antonio—and now he finally has some hardware to show for it:
Overnight leader Ricky Barnes, former world No. 1 Luke Donald and 2011 Texas Open champion Brendan Steele all failed to break par in an underwhelming showing from the last trio off the first tee on Sunday.
Barnes bounced back from an opening bogey with a birdie at the par-four fourth hole. Unfortunately, he suffered three bogeys in a four-hole span from Nos. 9 through 12 to fall short in his bid for a maiden PGA Tour victory.
Birdies at Nos. 3 and 5 gave Reed the early edge on his playing competitor, Hoffman, but he dropped a shot at the par-three seventh to turn only one shot better.
The back nine turned out to be a showdown. Reed had close-range birdie chances at the 16th and 17th holes that he failed to convert after draining a long birdie on the 15th. Hoffman was successful on a short-sided up-and-down par save on No. 16 and a lengthy two-putt par on the 17h green.
On the 72nd hole, Reed hit a dramatic, sweeping long-iron shot from the rough that just cleared the hazard short of the green:
No Laying Up commended Reed's bold course management at such a pivotal moment in the tournament:
Golf Channel's Arron Oberholser used the shot as context as to why he was a big fan of the polarizing Reed:
Hoffman following by going for the putting surface in two as well, but he pulled his second left into the greenside bunker, setting up a delicate third from the sand.
After witnessing Reed tap in for birdie to tie and nearly jar his eagle chip, Hoffman barely trundled his ball onto the green and faced an uphill birdie putt to avoid a playoff.
The 39-year-old rose to the occasion to say the least—with an epic celebration to boot:
ESPN.com's Jason Sobel provided context not long before Hoffman's decisive putt as to why the victory was of considerable importance:
And the Texas Open wasn't the only stop on the PGA Tour Hoffman was having trouble sealing the deal of late, per Ray:
Callaway Golf's Amanda Balionis reacted to Hoffman's resolve with the putter at the end:
A strong ball-striking day helped Hoffman to the win; he hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
In recent weeks, it was Hoffman who couldn't close. Now Reed is in danger of being slapped with that scrutiny following his PGA Tour-best eighth top-10 finish of the season without a win.
As for the other storylines to emerge from San Antonio, other than Hoffman's fourth career tour win, perhaps the most notable was the continued steady play of Branden Grace.
The South African won the RBC Heritage for his maiden stateside triumph last week but took awhile to get going at the Valero Texas Open. Grace nevertheless bounced back by going eight under par on the weekend—and he missed realistic birdie bids at Nos. 16 and 18 on Sunday to settle for 67.
It's worth keeping a steady eye on Grace, who's only 27, has seven European Tour wins on his resume and only continues to climb the world golf hierarchy.
The next couple of weeks on the PGA Tour set up a compelling precursor to The Players Championship.
First on the slate is the Zurich Classic of New Orleans beginning Monday, which should generate considerable buzz with 2013 U.S. Open winner Justin Rose as defending champion. That's followed by the Wells Fargo Championship—starting May 5—where superstar Rory McIlroy has committed to defend at the site of his first PGA Tour win.
The PGA Tour's official Twitter feed captured an emotional Hoffman in an interview not long after he won:
Despite another great finish to what's been a magnificent overall season thus far for Reed, the fiery 25-year-old was none too pleased to play second fiddle.
"With the way I was hitting the ball on Friday, the way I hit the ball Saturday and, you know, today was missing a lot of short putts, I'm shocked I even had a chance," said Reed, per Golf Channel.com's Will Gray. "To [Hoffman] him have to make that 9-footer on the last, he did so. He won the golf tournament."
Reed added, per Gray, "I'm still first loser...I'm tired of finishing in second and top five and top 10. I need to close out tournaments and get Ws."
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com.