This Week in Golf–Valero Texas Open

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, March 28th, 2015


Valero Texas Open
March 26 – March 29, 2015
 TPC San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
Purse – $6,200,000
Defendng Champion – Steven Bowditch

Spieth’s confidence sky-high
ahead of key stretch

SAN ANTONIO — Rory McIlroy may be odds-on favorite to win the Masters, but based on recent form alone, it’s difficult to find another golfer on the planet playing better than Jordan Spieth at the moment.
The 21-year-old was always going to be a popular pick to win at Augusta following last year’s tie for second-place in his Masters debut. However, he’s bolstered those chances with six- and 10-shot wins at the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge, and a playoff victory over Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair at the Valspar Championship in his most recent start.
In his last nine worldwide events, Spieth has three wins, five top-5s, seven top-10s and is a cumulative 87 under par. Those are stats that would make anyone stand up and take notice.
Prior to his win at the Australian Open, Spieth was already known as one of the game’s bright young talents, but over the course of the last four months, the young Texan has added an important piece of the puzzle to his ever-growing arsenal: a newfound killer instinct and an ability to close out tournaments.
It’s one of the reasons Spieth feels even better about his chances going into Augusta as he prepares to play the Valero Texas Open — the first of two events before the Masters in his home state, and a tournament that gave him a sponsor’s exemption when he was in college.
“I feel better going in than I did last year,” Spieth said. “Last year at this point, I’d actually had a really good season. I had chances to close tournaments out early in the year, but this year I feel better having closed the (Valspar Championship) out. I also missed the cut in Houston last year, so I went in with some questions, I guess, right off an early finish.
“Hopefully this year I can play eight tournament rounds prior to arriving on the grounds (at Augusta). My swing feels better, putting stroke is getting there. I putted well the last few weeks. But that’s going to be a whole other thing when you get on those slick greens. But all in all, I feel very confident about where I am going in.”
Even with the Masters looming, Spieth doesn’t seemed phased by the additional pressure. Instead of taking the short flight from Dallas to San Antonio to get in extra work on the course, he opted to make the four-hour drive in his own car, stopping along the way to visit with family and friends. One of those stops was in Austin to see his old teammates at the University of Texas.
“I enjoy being able to drive to both of these tournaments, drive my own car around and see a lot friends and family that I don’t get to see a lot of the year that come to visit.”
On Tuesday, Spieth played the role of mentor during a practice round with 18-year-old Sam Burns, a high school senior from Shreveport, Louisiana, who played his way into the event by winning the Junior PGA Championship.
It’s hard to believe Spieth is only a few years removed from being in Burns’ shoes, playing in the HP Byron Nelson Championship as a high schooler and learning the ropes from players like Justin Leonard and Harrison Frazar.
Fast forward three years and Spieth’s teeing it up this week at the Valero Texas Open as one of the marquee names in the field and being mentioned as one of the favorites to win the Masters.
“I look back at the last couple of years and sometimes it’s hard to believe all this has happened,” Spieth said. “It certainly happened faster than I could have imagined, but I’m taking everything in stride and continuing to work hard. I have a lot of goals that I want to achieve and so far, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.”
Jonathan Wall


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