Martin Laird wins the Valero Texas Open

Martin Laird

Martin Laird (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Martin Laird fired an impressive final round 63 while 54-hole leader Billy Horschel struggled to a round of 71, giving Laird the win at the 2013 Valero Texas Open. The win gives Laird the last spot in next week’s Masters, and also ends the run of 14 consecutive victories on the PGA Tour for American-born players.
What happened
Laird’s first three rounds this week were nothing special, shooting rounds of 70-71-70, but he started out hot in Sunday’s final round with five birdies in his opening nine holes. Another birdie on 12 was surrounded by all pars until he got to 15 where Laird would birdie his final four holes to open up a three shot lead when he got into the clubhouse. Prior to this week, Laird’s best finish on the PGA Tour this season was a tie for 34th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago, but he’s not a random PGA Tour journeyman. Laird did get to 21st in the world rankings a few years ago, and the win today gives him his third career PGA Tour win. In case you’re curious, his prior finishes at the Masters are a T-20 in 2011 and a T-57 last year.
Horschel just never seemed to get anything going, mostly because he couldn’t hit any greens, and he had the highest final round score of anyone who finished inside the top-15. Rory McIlroy put in a very good final round 66 with eight birdies to finish alone in second place, making the suggestion from caddie JP Fitzgerald to come out this week prior to the Masters seem like a good one. It’s a disappointing end to the week for several players who were hoping to grab that last spot at the Masters, including Horschel who had a two-shot lead coming into today’s final round, but with only one spot available, Laird will be going to Augusta National.
Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Martin Laird -14
  • 2. Rory McIlroy -12
  • T3. Billy Horschel -11
  • T3. Jim Furyk -11
  • T3. Charley Hoffman -11

Shots of the tournament
First, we have Luke List hitting what should be an impossible shot through some sort of forest and getting it to within a couple of feet from the hole:
Secondly, Steven Bowditch does something here that I wouldn’t recommend anyone attempting, but when you have a bunker in the middle of a green, you have to improvise.
If you do decide to do that on a green, Bowditch even shows you how to properly repair the divot.
Shank City
Obviously when you watch professional golf, you want to see quality play, but every now and then, it’s fun to watch the pros do something that you’d do on the course. One of the things that you do on the course is cold shank the ball. Enter Germany’s Marcel Siem:

If you think that was bad, take a look at Hunter Haas hit a shot that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t hit on the course:

Making the most of a bad break
Shawn Stefani had a tough week, missing the cut after rounds of 78 and 75. Playing the par-5 18th in Thursday’s opening round, Stefani got a horrible break when hitting his approach shot into the green.
That’s Stefani hitting a sprinkler head and winding up in the hazard. Instead of taking a drop, Stefani walked into the hazard and attempted to pitch one onto the green:
He ended up missing the birdie putt, but did tap in for his par.
Now for a good break…
Ryan Palmer hit an absolutely terrible bunker shot on the 5th hole in Sunday’s final round, but he managed to get a pretty fortunate break:

If his ball doesn’t hit McIlroy’s there, he’s got no hope of staying on the green.
Ian Poulter clearly likes the word “bitch”
A few weeks ago, Ian Poulter made it clear to his Titleist that he wanted it to sit on the green at Bay Hill. This week in San Antonio he was back at it, calling either himself or his ball a bitch. I’m not really sure which one it is, to be honest.

Spieth’s foot action is not recommended
This one doesn’t need much explaining. I’m not in a position to criticize the swing of a tour player, but man, you have to think that Jordan Spieth is eventually going to hurt himself with that kind of foot action. Of course, NBC’s Johnny Miller did something similar to this when he played, and he still manages to stick his foot in his mouth every week, so maybe I’m mistaken. Speaking of Miller…
The stupid thing(s) Johnny Miller said this week
One of the biggest image problems that golf has, both professional and recreational, is that it’s an exclusionary society that requires way too much time and money. Miller was talking about Rory McIlroy’s decision to play this week at the suggestion of caddie JP Fitzgerald, and he suggested that playing TPC San Antonio was a good place to play because you get to stay on the grounds and you get to avoid all of the hassle of driving to the course every day. Right, because the people watching the PGA Tour every week are really going to feel bad if a guy has to drive to the course every day. Look, I’m not saying that him keeping his mouth shut here would get rid of the image problem, but him saying it doesn’t help things in the least.
Sunday’s final round also featured this line from Miller about Jeff Overton as he was standing over a putt: “He was looking at his yardage book like a monkey in a gunny sack. Looked like he had no idea.” Does anyone have any idea what the hell that means?
Someone isn’t a big fan of Valero
I don’t really have much of an intro to this video, so I’ll just copy and paste the YouTube video description:

Activist and Tar Sands Blockader, Doug Fahlbusch, interrupts the Valero Texas Open PGA golf tournament by storming the field with a sign reading, “Tar Sands Spill. Valero Kills. Answer Manchester.” Doug was arrested and charged with resisting arrest.


Quick reminder on how good these guys are
In Saturday’s third round, Charley Hoffman and his caddie had an interesting conversation that was picked up by NBC’s cameras. Hoffman was in the fairway on the 6th hole, 133 yards out from the green and downwind. Miguel Rivera asked him how far he was hitting the wedge earlier, suggesting that it was 120 yards. Hoffman corrected him and said that it was 119. The fact that Hoffman knows that, down to a single yard, is amazing to me. You often see Tiger Woods hit a shot and ask the ball for one more yard right off the club face, and this ranks right up there with that for me.

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