Planet Golf — 05 April 2013 by GW staff and news services
Laird charges to Valero victory

SAN ANTONIO —  The winner of the Valero Texas Open is headed to the Masters, only it wasn’t the player anyone perhaps expected.

Martin Laird shot a sizzling 9-under 63 Sunday, birdieing his final three holes, to win at TPC San Antonio. The victory is his first in two years and will send the Scot to Augusta National.

It is the 11th time a player has won the week before the year’s first major to get into the field at the Masters. It also helped keep a streak of major appearances alive for the 30-year-old, who will be playing in his 11th straight major.

The win by Laird also ends a streak of U.S. dominance this season. American players had won the first 14 events of the season.

Rory McIlroy, who added the tournament to his schedule at the last minute in order to get more competitive rounds under his belt, finished second two strokes back after a 66.

It was McIlroy’s best result on the PGA Tour since winning last year’s BMW Championship.

Billy Horschel, who began the day with a two-shot lead and was bidding for his first Masters appearance, tied for third after a 71 along with Charley Hoffman and Jim Furyk.

Leaderboard: Martin Laird -14 (274); Rory McIlroy -12 (276); Jim Furyk -11 (277); Charley Hoffman -11 (277); Billy Horschel  -11 (277)

 Martin Laird

— Laird earns his third career PGA Tour victory at the age of 30 years, 3 months and nine days in his 134th career start. He previously won the 2009 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

— With his win, Laird moves inside the top-20 in the FedExCup standings to No. 18.

— In the midst of what had been a challenging season, this week’s Valero Texas Open marks Martin Laird’s ninth start of the year. He has missed four cuts, three of which were consecutive, and failed to make it to the weekend at the Shell Houston Open last week. Before today, Laird’s best finish was a T34 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

— Laird birdied his last three holes Sunday to tie the TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) course record with a 9-under 63 to win by two strokes. Matt Every posted a 63 in round one last year.

— With his win in San Antonio, Laird extends exempt status through 2015.

— The victory earns Laird the final spot into this week’s Masters Tournament.

— Laird becomes the first player since Johnson Wagner to earn the final spot into the Masters by virtue of a win the week before (2008 Shell Houston Open).

— Five players have won the week prior to the Masters Tournament and then gone on to win in Augusta – Ralph Guldahl (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1939,*Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1949, Art Wall (Azalea Open) in 1959, Sandy Lyle (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1988 and Phil Mickelson (BellSouth Classic) in 2006.

— If not otherwise eligible, Laird earns a spot into the following, additional 2013 PGA Tour events: RBC Heritage, Players Championship, Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, the Memorial Tournament, AT&T National and PGA Championship.

— Laird earns a spot into the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

— Laird wins in his third start at the Valero Texas Open (T9/2011, T70/2008).

— Laird becomes the seventh player (nine wins) to win in his 30s in 2013.

— Laird’s win snaps a streak of 16 straight by an American, dating to Tommy Gainey’s win at 2012 McGladrey Classic.

— Laird becomes just the third international-born player since 1970 to win the Valero Texas Open (Adam Scott/2010, Nick Price/1992).

Rory McIlroy

— With his 6-under 66 in the final round, McIlroy is now 11/13 in rounds of par-or-better in 2013.

— McIlroy hit 56/72 (77.8 percent) of the greens in regulation this week, tying for first.

— In his first start at the Valero Texas Open, McIlroy is coming off a T45 at last week’s Shell Houston Open.

— The 2013 Valero Texas Open was McIlroy’s fourth start in the state of Texas.

— With McIlroy’s finish in San Antonio, he moves to No. 30 in FedExCup standings.

Billy Horschel

— Horschel followed last week’s T2 finish at the Shell Houston Open with a T3 finish at the Valero Texas Open, moving him to No. 12 in the FedExCup standings.

Jim Furyk

— In his first start at the Valero Texas Open, Jim Furyk holed a wedge from 104 yards for an eagle-three on the 72nd hole to claim a share of third with Billy Horschel.

— With rounds of 69-70-69-69, the last time Furyk recorded four rounds under par in a single tournament before this week was at the 2012 McGladrey Classic.

— The 2013 Valero Texas Open marks the first time Furyk has competed the week before the Masters.

Marcel Siem

— Making his 10th career start on the PGA Tour, Marcel Siem made his way into the Valero Texas Open field this week by virtue of a sponsor exemption. A week ago today, Siem won the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, good enough to temporarily move him to within the top-50 in the Official World Ranking. By day’s end, he was barely outside the top-50, thus needing a win in San Antonio to earn the final spot into this week’s Masters. Siem was making forward progress Sunday, until a triple-bogey seven at the 12th thwarted his bid for victory. Siem finished T10 after a final-round, 3-under 69.

Bob Estes

— In his 25th start at the Valero Texas Open, Austin resident Bob Estes posted a 2-under 70 in the final round to finish T7, his second consecutive top-10 finish in the event. Estes claimed T4 honors at TPC San Antonio last year, was his best finish at this event since his win in 1994.

Tournament Notes:

— There were 19 players in the Valero Texas Open also competing in this week’s Masters Tournament; K.J. Choi, Ben Curtis, Jamie Donaldson, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Jim Furyk, Brian Gay, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, John Huh, Freddie Jacobson, Matt Kuchar, David Lynn, Rory McIlroy, John Merrick, John Peterson, D.A. Points, Ian Poulter, David Toms and Charl Schwartzel.

— Greg Chalmers aced the par-3 16th hole from 199 yards with a 6-iron. Chalmers was the only player to make a hole-in-one at this year’s Valero Texas Open.


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