Top Links:

Get A Golf Handicap

UK Golf Guide

Golfshake Top 100s

Find Golf Travel Deals

Golf Competitions


Community Forum


Tee Times | Search | Reviews


Gear | Tour | Industry Insider


Video Library | Tuition Sections


Join | Log In | Help | Useful Links


2024 Valero Texas Open Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Tue 02 Apr 2024

The Texas Open at San Antonio provides a final opportunity for players to tune up for next week’s Masters. And the good news is that with Augusta looming, the tournament has attracted a surprisingly strong field.

In the week before a major, many top players opt to take time off to prepare. However, among those in action this week are Rory McIlroy, Brian Harman, Ludvig Aberg, Rickie Fowler, Max Homa and Collin Morikawa. And they will all have one thing in common - while they will be looking to play well, none of them will want to win. Back-to-back winners are as rare as hen’s teeth and winning golf tournaments is exhausting work. So if you offered McIlroy a comfortable top-five finish he would bite your hand off.

In saying that, all of these guys will be trying their hearts out to win.

Ludvig Aberg

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Last year saw Corey Conners take the title for the second time. He shot a bogey-free four-under-par 68 to finish on 15 under, one clear of rookie Sam Stevens who had two eagles in a 66 at TPC San Antonio. Matt Kuchar birded the last three holes as he hit a 69 to finish joint third on 13 under with Sam Ryder, who had a 66.

"I was really solid all day. It was a battle. The conditions were not easy," said 31-year-old Conners. "It was a battle but a lot of fun. I can't believe I got my second win here."

Conners, whose only other victory came at the same event in 2019, began the day one stroke behind leader Patrick Rodgers, who closed with a 73 to finish fifth on 11 under.

He was made to wait for 10 minutes on the final fairway after Stevens, playing in the group in front, hit a wayward second shot to the left of the par-five 18th green. The American chipped to eight feet but missed the birdie putt, meaning Conners needed a par to win and he did just that despite missing the green with his second shot and chunking his chip onto the green.

Conners was born in Ontario on January 6, 1992. He turned professional in 2015 and in December 2016 qualified for the Web.com Tour. In March 2018, he held the 54-hole lead at the Valspar Championship but staggered to a final round of 77. He ended the year in 130th place in the FedEx Cup standings. In October 2018 he finished second at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the following April he won the Texas Open for the first time, earning the final place in The Masters. He was the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour since Arjun Atwal in 2010.

He continued his strong play into the 2019-2020 season with 10 top-25 finishes. He qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games and made the International Team at the 2022 Presidents Cup. Conners is clearly a course specialist and will not mind one bit if he lands this title for a third time. 

Other past champions in the field include JJ Spaun, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker and Martin Laird. Scotsman Laird has made a decent living on the PGA Tour. The 41-year-old is a four-time winner. He claimed the Shriners twice, won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2011 and this event two years later. He hasn’t won since 2020 and hasn’t played in a major since missing the cut at the US Open in 2021.

In 386 starts he has made 246 cuts. Apart from his victories, he has seven runner-ups, four thirds, 22 top fives and 45 top 10s and earned more than $22m in prize money. But in the past couple of years he has barely held on to his card, and he hasn’t made the best start to 2024 either. He is going to need a couple of impressive weeks or else he is going to face some tough choices at the end of the season.

Fowler, who has performed well in San Antonio, will be making his fifth start since 2019. Last year he finished tied 10th and in 2019 and 2021 was tied 17th in both starts. He has won six times on the PGA Tour, including the 2015 Players Championship, when he finished in sensational fashion. After a long fallow period, the American returned to the winners’ circle last year at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Fowler is one of those who will be heading to Augusta next week for an 11th start at The Masters.

Russell Henley, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, will be making his third start in Texas Open, but this first since 2019. His most recent victory came at the 2022 World Wide Technology Championship. 

Nicolai Hojgaard continues his PGA Tour adventure, still looking for his first victory on American soil. Last year he finished in a tie for 28th. He won the DP World Tour Championship at the end of 2024 and that was good enough to secure his PGA Tour card. He has five top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour to his credit and, of course, was a member of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team in Rome.

Billy Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014. He is a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, his most recent success coming at the Memorial Tournament in 2022. In nine starts at the Texas Open, he finished tied third in 2013, third in 2015, tied fourth in 2016 and tied 11th in 2018. He would be the first to admit that 2023 was a difficult year. If ever there was a man in the field who needs a good week it is Horschel.

Tournament Winners:

It was won in 2015 by Jimmy Walker in 2016 by Charley Hoffman, in 2017 by Kevin Chappell, in 2018 by Andrew Landry, in 2019 and 2023 by Corey Conners, in 2021 by Jordan Spieth and in 2022 by JJ Spaun. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The Course:

TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course is a par 72 measuring 7,435 yards and was designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia. It features narrow, tree-lined fairways, huge bunkers, fast, undulating greens and several water hazards - and it is a proper test!

Form Guide:

Ludvig Aberg has the golfing world at his feet. He has already won on both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour and performed superbly at the Players Championship. But he has yet to tee it up in a major - he will put that right at Augusta next week. I expect him to go close in Texas on a course that is made for his game.

To Win:

Ludvig Aberg. Due another win

Each Way:

Rickie Fowler. Good record here

Each Way:

Rory McIlroy. Looking to tune up for Augusta

Five to Follow:

Ludvig Aberg. Preparing for his first major

Rickie Fowler. Texas fans adore him

Rory McIlroy. Will not want a win

Corey Conners. Course specialist

Max Homa. Struggling a bit this year

Five Outsiders to Watch:

Billy Horschel. Desperate for a turnaround

Webb Simpson. Still a great ball striker

Matt Kuchar. Searching for past glory

Jimmy Walker. Trying to get out of a slump

Russell Henley. Tends to go under the radar

Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: PGA Tour Golf Previews FedEx Cup

Scroll to top