Sunday After the Masters: 10 Lessons We Learned at the Valero Texas Open
The Valero Texas Open was played this week at the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. The official website for the Valero Texas Open describes the tournament this way: "Unapologetically Texan—We prefer our golf a little rough around the edges."
Well, for some players like Kevin Na, the tournament was indeed a little rough around the edges.
The weekend was marked by some windy conditions, which made the scores a little higher than they probably would have been, but there was still some great golf.
Especially by 2011 Valero Texas Open champion Brendan Steele.
The Valero Texas Open made me think about how it is so hard for any golf tournament to live up to the excitement of the Masters.
It is just so hard to compete with all of the PGA Tour's top golfers shooting it out at the Masters, especially when the tournament is as close as last Sunday's Masters was.
While the Valero Texas Open had me thinking of last Sunday, it also had me pondering some other things as well.
The following are some of my thoughts while watching golf on the weekend after the Masters.
As you will see, I am not always a serious thinker.
Playing in the Wind Makes Golf Harder—even for the Pros
Brendan Steele won this year's Valero Texas Open with a final score of eight-under par. Last year's winner Australian Adam Scott finished at 14-under par—six strokes better than Steele.
Considering the tournament was played on the same course as last year you have to believe the windy blistery conditions this year led to higher scores.
Like commentator David Feherty said on Sunday about playing in windy conditions, "You have to figure out where you are going to hit it, and when."
I know I have always had trouble playing in the wind—but then I have trouble playing when the wind isn't blowing as well.
Kevin Na Proved Even Pro Golfers Can Have a 16 on a Hole
Kevin Na carded a 16 in Thursday's first round of the Valero Texas Open.
But according to the Monterey County Herald it's not the highest score on a par 4 in PGA Tour history.
This story on the Monterey County Herald's website says current Champions Tour member Dale Douglass carded a 19 on the par-4 10th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links in the final round of the 1963 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am.
Douglass' 19 at Pebble Beach is also worse than John Daly's 18 on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998.
The story says the PGA Tour computer system only goes back only as far as 1983.
Maybe that is why so many had forgotten about Douglass' 19 at Pebble Beach?
Augusta National Is Just a Beautiful Place To Play or Watch Golf
The AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio is a well-designed golf course that provides professional golfers with a real test of their skills.
But compared to a masterpiece like Augusta National, the Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio just doesn't provide anywhere near the backdrop to watch golf as Augusta National does.
But then not many courses do.
I know kind of a no-brainer. But as I watched the Valero Texas Open on television this week I just kept thinking that.
Pat Perez Still Plays on the PGA Tour
Pat Perez was in fifth place to start Sunday morning and finished at five-under for the tournament in a tie for fifth.
I hadn't seen his name that high up a leaderboard for awhile. Perez has two top-25 finishes in 2011, and had no top-10 finishes for the season until this week.
Perez's earnings dropped last season, and he has gone from 33rd in the FedExCup rankings in 2009 to 103rd to start the week.
Of course Perez still earned over $900,000 last year. I wish I could make that much on an "off" year.
Most of Golf's Top Players Take the Week Off After the Masters
I don't want to take anything away from Brendan Steele for his first PGA Tour win, but after the star-studded field at the Masters, it was kind of a letdown.
Yes a few of the top-10 finishers from last week's Masters played in Texas, including Angel Cabrera, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Bo Van Pelt, but most of golf's big names were missing.
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Camilo Villegas, Vijay Singh and many others were not at the Valero Texas Open.
Yes some of the missing pros I mentioned like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia may not have had recent success, but they are well known to golf fans.
And most golf fans watch PGA Tour events on television to see the golfers they recognize and follow.
Kiefer Sutherland Gave Up His Acting Career To Play Golf
Kiefer Sutherland finished the Valero Texas Open at two-under par and tied for 11th place.
Best known for his portrayal of Jack Bauer on the Fox thriller drama series 24, Sutherland played some really good golf.
What? Oh whoops it was Kevin Sutherland who played at the Valero Texas Open, not Keifer.
Anthony Kim Continues To Struggle on the PGA Tour
Anthony Kim missed the cut again at Valero Texas Open—a week after missing the cut at the Masters.
In 2011 Kim has missed the cut in three of his 10 starts, has one top-10 finish and four top-25 finishes.
After his brilliant 2008 campaign Kim was touted as one of the next stars of the PGA Tour. But for the most part he has struggled since then.
Last season Kim missed four cuts in 14 events but still made over $2.5 million for the season. But that is down from his $4.5 million earnings from 2008—which was his best season on the PGA Tour.
In 2008 he was fifth in the FedExCup standings, this season he is currently 57th.
Why Kim is struggling is known only to him, but he has a "Party boy" image on the PGA Tour—just Google Anthony Kim partying to read several media reports on the issue.
After losing to Kim in the 2009 Presidents Cup Robert Allenby accused Kim of partying until 4 a.m. the morning of their match—a match Allenby lost to Kim.
Angel Cabrera Plays Much Better in Major Championships
Angel Cabrera finished seventh at the Masters at nine-under par.
At the Valero Texas Open, Cabrera failed to make the cut.
Cabrera, the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters winner, always seems to show up for major championships.
Cabrera has 46 professional wins, but only two on the PGA Tour—both major championships.
I'm guessing we will see Cabrera in the mix next at the Congressional Country Club for the 2011 U.S. Open.
Nothing Beats Sunday at the Masters
I know, I know, let the 2011 Masters go.
But I just can't. This year's final round was just so good!
At one point with just a few holes left last week there were about eight golfers within two shots of the lead.
This week during the final holes at the Valero Texas Open there were seven golfers within three shots of the lead—but the excitement just wasn't there like last weekend. Well at least for me it wasn't.
There is just something about Sunday at the Masters.
I'm Looking Forward to the Heritage at Harbour Town Next Week
With apologies to the 2011 Valero Texas Open champion Brendan Steele and the many other fine golfers who played this week—I just can't help but think about next week at Harbour Town.
While not quite as beautiful a backdrop for golf as Augusta National, Harbour Town is a beautiful golf course.
Jim Furyk will be there to defend his title, and since the tournament is one of the favorite stops for many PGA Tour players—many of golf's big names will be there.
No we won't see Woods or Mickelson, but the field will be strong, and Harbour Town is a gem of a golf course.