- Texas Open
The Texas Open – or the Valero Texas Open as it was renamed in 2002 when the San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corporation was made title sponsor – is one of the longest running championships on the men’s professional circuit in America, dating as far back as 1922, and it’s well regarded as one of the cornerstone events on the PGA Tour.
Organized by the Valero Energy Foundation and managed by the Wasserman Media Group, the Texas Open is the third oldest 72-hole stroke play competition on the PGA Tour and the longest staged in the same city, having always been held in and around the San Antonio area. The tournament is also one of the biggest fundraising events on the tour, with more than $100 million donated to charity down the years.
The course at Brackenridge Park hosted most of the Texas Opens until 1959 and it was here that Bob McDonald from Dornoch won the inaugural competition in 1922. McDonald had emigrated to the United States with his family in 1910, taking up a post in New Jersey before later moving to Ohio. He had three top 10 finishes in the US Open between 1915 and 1920 and reached the PGA semi-final in 1919 before winning his first professional event at the Metropolitan Open in 1921, ending Walter Hagen’s streak of three successive titles.
Walter Hagen added the Texas Open to four other competitions he won in the 1923 season, before non-American golfers then carried off the silverware in three of the next four seasons: Australian Joe Kirkwood Sr. had a 7-stroke victory in 1924; Scotsman Macdonald Smith held off fellow countryman Bobby Cruikshank by a single stroke in 1926; then Cruikshank bounced back a year later to deny Larry Nabholtz by three shots.
The 1927 and 1928 editions were staged 4½ miles away from Brackenridge Park at Willow Springs, and this course would be used again between 1942 and 1949, with Ben Hogan (1946) and Sam Snead (1948) the most notable professionals taking the honours.
La Loma at Fort Sam Houston – designed by A. W. Tillinghast – is the only military course to ever hold a PGA Tour event and it co-hosted with Brackenridge Park when Sam Snead won his second Texas Open in 1950. It was used exclusively for the 1956 edition (won by Gene Littler) and for the 1960 tournament which was won by Arnold Palmer, the first of three successive titles he would claim.
In 1961, Oak Hills became the long-term residence for the competition over more than three decades, but there were times during that period when two other venues were used: Pecan Valley (1967-1970) and Woodlake (1972-1976), both of which no longer exist as golf facilities. Victories for Chi-Chi Rodrigues in 1967 and Ben Crenshaw in 1973 are now just distant memories at those two overgrown locations.
Overseas success at Oak Hills was very limited, extending to just three players: Bruce Crampton from Australia in 1964 when he held off Bob Charles and Chi-Chi Rodrigues to win by one stroke; Harold Henning from South Africa in 1966 with the first of his two PGA Tour wins; and Nick Price from Zimbabwe in 1992, when he added the Texas Open to the PGA Championship he’d won two months earlier.
After the last Texas Open at Oak Hills in 1994, the competition moved nine miles north to the newly opened Resort course at La Cantera Golf Club, where it stayed for fifteen editions. The highlight during the club’s time hosting the tournament was undoubtedly when Dallas-born Justin Leonard won his third championship in eight years at the venue in 2007, after beating Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik with a birdie on the third playoff hole.
The tournament moved twenty miles east to its latest home at TPC San Antonio in 2010, with Adam Scott from Australia winning his seventh PGA Tour title and pocketing a first prize cheque for $1,098, 000. Another Antipodean player, Stephen Bowditch, followed his compatriot onto the winner’s podium four years later with a 1-shot victory against the field and there’s also been non-American success for Scotsman Martin Laird (in 2014) and Canadian Corey Connors (in 2019).
As at 2019, the Texas Open has been held 23 times at Oak Hills, 21 times at Brackenridge Park, with La Cantera staging the tournament on 15 occasions and TPC San Antonio 10 (and counting). Neither Pecan Valley nor Woodridge are listed below as they no longer exist.
Texas Open Top 100 Leaderboard