Valero Texas Open: Chasing final spot for next week’s Masters Tournament

SAN ANTONIO – The Valero Texas Open is set to return to The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio on Thursday with 29 golfers in the field of 156 looking to build momentum ahead of the Masters Tournament next weekend.

If the winner this week isn’t already scheduled to play in the Masters, he will receive the final invitation to this year’s first major championship.

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“If they’re not in the Masters, then their motivation is to win here to get in the Masters. I think that’s pretty strong motivation and would bring a lot of guys here to play,” said 2013 Masters champion and 2010 VTO champion Adam Scott. “But I’m also here — as much as we all think about next week, I’m here, I want a good result. I’d like to win a trophy, that’s still what I’m trying to do out here.”

The players in the Valero Texas Open who will be making their Masters Tournament debut include Ludvig Åberg, Eric Cole, Austin Eckroat, Lee Hodges, Nicolai Højgaard, Denny McCarthy, Grayson Murray, and Adam Schenk.

The rest of the Masters Tournament invitees include reigning Valero Texas Open champion Corey Conners, Harris English, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Fox, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Ryo Hisatsune, Max Homa, Zach Johnson, Tom Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Thorbjørn Olesen, Erik van Rooyen, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, and Camilo Villegas.

PGA Tour veteran Billy Horschel is among the golfers who need to win the VTO to receive an invitation to Augusta National next week despite having played in nine of the last 10 Masters.

“I’m not in Augusta and my main focus this week is to win. I think if you’re in Augusta ultimately you always want to win, but I think you’re sort of assessing where your game is, what you need to work on, some of the shots you may need to have to be able to play well at Augusta,” said Horschel. “So yeah, there’s two different mindsets between the players that are in Augusta and the players that aren’t in Augusta.”

Back in 2019, defending champion Conners punched his ticket to the Masters by winning the VTO. The tournament victory helped propel Conners into being a Masters mainstay.

“I think guys who don’t have an opportunity in the field, there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel here if you win like I did in ‘19, you punch a ticket to Augusta. I think some guys are motivated, sort of the last chance to get in the field there,” said Conners. “Guys who are in the field, obviously hard to not think ahead because that’s a special week as well. I think everyone’s going to be fighting hard this week. It’s a demanding golf course, fairly tricky conditions and got to take care of business this week definitely. That’s certainly what I’m focused on.”

As Conners said, there shouldn’t be any shortage of motivation for the 2024 tournament field at TPC San Antonio this weekend, especially for the 23 golfers with ties to the Lone Star State.

The first and second-round groupings were finalized on Tuesday and are set to tee off beginning at 7:20 a.m. Thursday and Friday, before the final rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

Notable groups to watch in the early rounds:

7:53 (Rd. 1) & 1:08 (Rd. 2) — Collin Morikawa (La Canada, CA), Corey Conners (Listowel, ON, Canada), Max Homa (Valencia, CA)

8:04 (Rd. 1) & 1:19 (Rd. 2) — Brian Harman (Sea Island, GA), Matt Fitzpatrick (Sheffield, England), Adam Scott (Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia)

8:15 (Rd. 1) & 1:30 (Rd. 2) — Ludvig Åberg (Eslöv, Sweden), Harris English (Moultrie, GA), Joel Dahmen (Clarkston, WA)

8:59 (Rd. 1) & 2:14 (Rd. 2) — Adam Long (St. Louis, MO), Jimmy Walker (San Antonio, TX), Chandler Phillips (College Station, TX)

1:08 (Rd. 1) & 7:53 (Rd. 2) — Rory McIlroy (Holywood, Northern Ireland), Rickie Fowler (Murrieta, CA), Tommy Fleetwood (Southport, England)

1:19 (Rd. 1) & 8:04 (Rd. 2) — Hideki Matsuyama (Sendai, Japan), Lucas Glover (Jupiter, FL), Jordan Spieth (Dallas, TX)

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