Wide Open Texas Open

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Valero Texas OpenFor the first time since 2003, Fred Funk will be returning to San Antonio, Texas for the Valero Texas Open.
 
Funk hasnt skipped town because of any discrepancies with this event. Rather, over the last two years, hes been busy on this particular week, representing his country in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
 
This year, however, Funk is free to play wherever he chooses ' and he has chosen to play here.
 
Justin Leonard
Justin Leonard is a two-time winner of the Valero Texas Open.
Not that the 50-year-old really had any other choice. There is no Champions Tour event this week, and he was never really in the race to make this years U.S. Ryder Cup team.
 
The Ryder Cup, of course, is being contested this week in Kildare, Ireland. And, for the fourth straight time, the Texas Open will be played opposite it; though, this may be the last time it has to share the spotlight.
 
Next years event will be held Oct. 4-7, which is the week after the Presidents Cup. And if it holds its position on the TOUR calendar, then it shouldnt run up against the Ryder Cup in 08.
 
In all, this is the 76th edition of this event, which began in 1922. Past winners include the likes of Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer.
 
Robert Gamez won last years event, opening in 62 and closing in 64 on his way to a three-stroke victory ' his first on TOUR since his rookie season in 1990.
 
Defending champions havent had much success in this tournament over the years. Bill Mehlhorn won back-to-back in 1928-29. Palmer won three straight, from 1960-62. And only one person since then has been able to repeat. And that person leads the list of our five favorites.
 
Justin Leonard
It was seven years ago that Leonard was a Ryder Cup hero, draining a 45-foot birdie putt against Jose Maria Olazabal to all but clinch the Americans comeback victory at Brookline. That was the last win in the competition for the U.S., and the last time Leonard was a team member. But its not like hes been sitting at home watching his former teammates on TV around this time of year. Instead, hes been collecting some sizeable paychecks in his home state. Leonard won this event in 2000 and 2001, and has two other runner-up finishes in his career. He has yet to win this year, and hasnt had a top-10 since February, but this should prove the perfect venue for him to turn things around.
 
Bart Bryant
Bryant, who won this event two years ago, is coming off his best finish of the season with a runner-up showing to Jim Furyk at the Canadian Open. The 44-year-old Texas native is quite comfortable at this venue, as seen not only by his victory in 2004 but also the course record he holds - a 10-under 60 he shot during the third round the year he won. Texans have fared well recently at this event, winning four of the last six years.
 
Dean Wilson
Thanks to his victory at The International, Wilson is no longer known simply as The Guy Who Played with Annika at Colonial. And, because of that, he will not have to worry about securing his TOUR card as the season winds down. Last year, he used a seventh-place finish at this event to help regain the card he lost the year before. Wilson had finished 133rd on the 04 money list, despite tying for third at LaCantera. With two top-10s in as many starts in this event ' and not having visions of Q-school on the horizon ' he should have plenty of confidence, and should be plenty relaxed, to make a run at the title.
 
Bob Estes
The Texas Open has been kind over recent years to veteran players. As previously mentioned, Gamez won for the first time in 15 years at this event a year ago. That was a similar story for 2003 winner Tommy Armour III, who also hadn't won since '90. And, in between those two, Bart Bryant captured his first TOUR title at this event in 04. Now, Estes would like to earn his first victory in over four seasons. He nearly ended that winless drought four weeks ago in Reno, but fell one shot short. Estes made this event his maiden TOUR victory in 94, and has four other top-10 finishes here.
 
Shaun Micheel
Micheel only has one top-10 in this event in six career starts, but he has been playing quite well of late. Still seeking a validation victory to his 2003 PGA Championship, Micheel finished runner-up in this years PGA and tied for seventh a few weeks ago in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Last week in England, he knocked off world No. 1 Tiger Woods in the first round of the World Match Play Championship. Despite getting roughed up in the finals against Paul Casey, he should still bring back plenty of confidence.
 
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    Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

    “I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

    Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

    Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

    “I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

    It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

    “A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

    “I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

    This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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    Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

    Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

    Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

    “I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

    Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

    “I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

    Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

    “No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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    Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

    Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

    “We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

    “I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

    Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

    “Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

    The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

    “We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.