Biggest Winners and Losers at the 2014 Valero Texas Open

Richard Leivenberg@@richiemarketingContributor IIIMarch 30, 2014

Biggest Winners and Losers at the 2014 Valero Texas Open

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    Steven Bowditch scores first PGA win at the Valero Texas Open
    Steven Bowditch scores first PGA win at the Valero Texas OpenEric Gay

    There are big winners, and then there are huge winners like 339th-ranked Steven Bowditch who took home the 2014 Valero Texas Open trophy for his first professional win.

    OK, so he backed into the win with a four-over 76 on the last day.  A win is a win, and with this one he gets to play in the Masters next month.

    In what has become something of a theme this year, Bowditch beat out Matt Kuchar, the 11th-ranked player in the world, who had a great shot at winning but ran out of gas on the last lap and finished in a tie for fourth. 

    Kuchar joined top-ranked players Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott who were also unable to close out lesser-ranked players down the stretch in tournaments this season.  

    Bowditch became the third Australian to win this year following Jason Day, who won the World Golf Champions Accenture Match Play, and John Senden, who won the Valspar Championship.

    Phil Mickelson, who was looking at the Valero as a tune-up going into Augusta, had to drop out due to an oblique injury.

    Among the winners and losers at the windswept Texas event were rising newcomers and elite players.

Winner: Jordan Spieth

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    Eric Gay

    Considering how he began the tournament, his 10th-place finish makes him a winner.

    Last year’s Rookie of the Year looked out of it immediately when he shot a 75 on the first day.

    But he then plowed his way through the field going under par for three consecutive days.

    This marked his fourth top-10 finish of the year and his third in the last six events.

    He may be peaking right in time for the Masters.

Loser: The Valero Texas Open

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    Eric Gay

    It's tough to be the Valero Texas Open.

    It comes right in the beginning of spring when everyone is headed to out for their first rounds of golf in months.

    It comes during the NCAA playoffs when the Elite Eight are being whittled down to the Final Four.

    Then, it has a very thin field with barely any guys from golf's Top 10 world rankings.

    Finally, you end up with a final group that couldn't put the ball in the hole and a winner who shoots a 76 on the final day.

Winner: Jim Furyk

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    Chris O'Meara

    The Valero marked Furyk’s second top-10 finish of the year, but more importantly, it may have provided him some much-needed confidence going into Augusta in two weeks.

    He played the weekend in three under par and moved up five places on the leaderboard on Sunday while others faltered.

    Currently ranked 24th in the world, he has not won on the tour since 2010, when he won three times, so finishes like this are very important for the 43-year-old.

Loser: Matt Kuchar

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    Lynne Sladky

    It was hard to tell who had won before and who hadn’t.  Here was Kuchar with 10 professional wins tied going into the back nine on Sunday with a guy who had never won on the tour.

    Who would you have taken to win it?

    But he looked very unstable, making two quick bogies, then another on the 14th hole to fall back into a tie for fourth place. Had he played those nine holes evenly, he would have beaten Bowditch's final score.

    With five top-10 finishes so far this year, Kuchar continues to be one of the favorites going into the Masters, but he will have to play a lot more confidently if he wants to win what would be his first major title.

Winner: Daniel Summerhays

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    Ben Margot

    Daniel Summerhays came out of nowhere to finish in a tie for second place.  In his last two events, he missed the cut and finished in a tie for 70th, so, like Bowditch, he was a huge long shot.

    Still, he positioned himself perfectly to win the event when Bowditch faltered by shooting three straight rounds under par.

    It also marked only the second time in his seven-year career that he has finished so high.

    So, big smile for Summerhays.

Loser: Phil Mickelson

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    Eric Gay

    Mickelson came into the Valero Open really needing to make a positive statement.

    Instead, he bowed out of the fourth round, complaining of an oblique injury.

    This marks his second injury this season.  He also withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open with a bad back.

    To date, he has no top-10 finishes as he tries to resurrect some of the momentum from last year that brought him three wins, including one at The Open Championship.

Winner: Will Mackenzie

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    Chris O'Meara

    Will Mackenzie may have usurped Jimmy Walker as the hottest player on the tour right now.

    Even though he hasn’t won yet, he notched his fifth top-10 finish in nine events by surging into a tie for second place.

    Last year, he had only two top-10 finishes and is looking like the "Comeback Player of the Year."  He is currently ranked seventh in scoring average and fourth all-around which makes him a strong competitor every time he tees up.