Here in the Texas Hill Country, we like our things in pairs — a pair of boots, pocket aces in a Texas Hold ‘Em game, two breakfast tacos to start the morning.
By Robert Rodriguez :: Photography courtesy of the PGA TOUR
Seems the PGA TOUR also likes delivering a pair of marquee events to our area — the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play and the Valero Texas Open.
For the second straight year, Austin Country Club will be the site of the WGC-Dell Match Play. The tournament, which pits the top 64 players (based on the Official World Golf Rankings), occurs March 22-26, and already is the toughest ticket to get in these parts.
This past January, the PGA TOUR announced tickets were sold out … three months prior to the first match. Yet there’s a glimmer of hope for those wanting to see the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and the other top names in golf. Those who have yet to purchase tickets can visit www.DellMatchPlay.com and sign up to be added to a waiting list in the event additional tournament tickets become available. Limited hospitality opportunities also remain.
In addition to McIlroy, Spieth and the 2016 Match Play Champion Day, those scheduled to play on the Pete Dye-designed ACC layout include Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Cordillera Ranch member Jimmy Walker.
The Dell Match Play field is divided into 16 four-player groups. Competitors will play round-robin matches within their group on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Players receive one point for a victory, a half-point for a draw and zero points for a loss. The player with the best record will advance to the Round of 16 for single-elimination match play. The Round of 16 will be played Saturday morning, followed by the Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. The Semifinals will be Sunday morning, followed by the Championship Match and Consolation Match on Sunday afternoon.
If you can’t make it to Austin, no worries as the PGA Tour will be in San Antonio a month later for the Valero Texas Open. Walker and 2016 champion Charley Hoffman are slated to tee it up April 20-23 on the TPC San Antonio, AT&T Oaks Course. And it always seems the tournament has a knack for getting another crowd-pleaser in the field. In 2013, it was Rory McIlroy. In 2015, Dustin Johnson came to town. A year ago, Phil Mickelson made an appearance. Could this year mark Tiger Woods’ return to the Alamo City?
It all depends on his balky back. Woods started this season with a positive outlook both physically and mentally, but has had to withdraw from several 2017 tournaments due of back spasms. Should he heal, the Valero Texas Open sits in a spot on this year’s TOUR schedule that would be beneficial for him — two weeks after The Masters and before his usual visits to the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players Championship. Woods’ only appearance at the Valero Texas Open was in 1996, when he finished third.
Walker, the 2015 Valero Texas Open champion, and other notable names will be chasing Hoffman, the defending champion, who fired rounds of 66-71-70-69—276 (-11) to win by one shot over Patrick Reed.
It was Hoffman’s fourth win on TOUR, but admitted after the final round that it was his toughest. “You look on the PGA TOUR, the guys that lead on Saturday and Sunday rarely win,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s easier to come from behind. Grabbing that lead and holding on to it, it’s tough to keep the pedal down and give yourself birdie opportunities and win golf tournaments.”
The Valero Texas Open prides itself as a standard bearer when it comes charitable donations. A year ago, the tournament raised $10.5 million for charity through various activities and events, reaching $116 million in total funds raised.
One charitable event in 2016 that was a hit, Game Show Night, is not slated for 2017. However, other special corporate and charitable events throughout tournament week are scheduled including Executive Women’s Day, Children’s Golf Clinic and Night to Honor Our Heroes.
Good Any One Day, hospitality and clubhouse tickets, and sponsorship packages for the Valero Texas Open are available. Ticket prices start at $20, while hospitality packages start at $99. Military ID cardholders (Active, Guard, Reserve, Retired) receive special benefits, while children 12 and under are free.
For more Valero Texas Open ticket information, visit www.valerotexasopen.com/tickets.