SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Texas Open is one of the oldest stops on the PGA Tour, yet it hasn’t recently produced a familiar winner.
Eric Axley won for the first time as a 32-year-old rookie last year. Robert Gamez won in 2005, his first victory in more than 15 years. Bart Bryant won in 2004 at 41, the oldest first-time winner on tour in almost a decade.
John Daly is one of the few notables in the field when the 79th edition of the tournament begins Thursday at the par-70 LaCantera Golf Club Resort Course.
“A lot of young guys have won out here and you get veterans that are winning here as well,” said Chad Campbell, a Texan who last week won the Viking Classic in Mississippi. “It’s a great opportunity for the younger players. Some of the top guys aren’t here.”
After the Tour Championship and President’s Cup, the Texas Open comes at a slow time on the PGA Tour. Steve Flesch, ranked 25th with two victories and $2.24 million in earnings, is the only player in the field in the top 30 of the money list.
Then it drops to Heath Slocum (33rd) and Campbell, who vaulted from 82nd to 43rd after Sunday’s win.
Flesch, who missed the cut in half of the first 20 PGA Tour events he entered this year, has two wins since early August.
“Eight weeks ago if you told me that I’d be sitting here with two wins, I’d be ecstatic,” he said.
Colt Knost, who played at SMU, is in his first pro event after winning the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links this summer.
Since winning last year, Axley had a third-place finish at the Chrysler Classic in Greensboro.
“I never really had that many bumps in the road here last year — I never hit a chip shot for two days,” Axley said. “It was just kind of autopilot, and I shot 63-63 (Friday and Saturday).
“Ball-striking wise, I’m probably no different from last year. Probably working a little too much on my golf swing versus short game.”
Daly shot a season-best 67, just two shots out of the first-round lead at the PGA Championship, before finishing 32nd in Tulsa two months ago. He was 54th in Mississippi last week.