Steven Bowditch had the best score this week and won the Texas Valero Open. It would be more accurate to say that he did not lose it. The 30-year old Australian shot 4-0ver par 76, the highest final round in a PGA Tournament since 2004, to outlast Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays with an 8-under par total of 280 and pick up the winner’s check of more than $1.1 million. Bowditch also earned a spot in the Masters beginning April 10.
Windy conditions at TPC San Antonio made scores balloon on Sunday. Bowditch started the day at 12 under par with a 3-shot lead and had 39 on the front nine. He had a bogey on 13 and a birdie on 14, then missed a three-foot par putt on 18 to make bogey but by then it didn’t matter. His closest pursuers when the day began, Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe both shot 75 in the fourth round and ended in a tie for fourth. If there was one person that was expected to challenge Bowditch it was Kuchar, who shot up the leaderboard on Saturday with a 65. But bogeys on 10, 11 and 14 on the back nine proved too much to overcome.
The win was Bowditch’s first ever on the PGA Tour. Before the Texas Valero Open, he was 339th in the world golf rankings, and had been in the top 10 only twice in eight years on tour. His biggest accomplishments before Sunday’s win were two wins on the Web.com tour and a single win on the Australasian circuit.
There were other things at stake on Sunday in San Antonio. Chesson Hadley and Ryan Palmer had a chance to qualify for the Masters by cracking the top-50 world golf rankings. Neither of them could do it. Hadley needed to finish sixth or better but had 80 in the final round. He would finish at 5 over par. Palmer needed a third-place finish or better but he also had a poor round on Sunday, carding 82. Both golfers ended up in a tie for 56th on the leaderboard.
In the LPGA Anna Nordqvist of Sweden used a 5-under 67 in the final round to win the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, CA by a shot over Lizette Salas. Nordqvist finished 13 under for the tournament after shooting 1-over 73 in the first round on Thursday. Lexi Thompson had a round of 68 on Sunday to finish in third at 11 under par.
Laura Diaz finished well down the list at 2 under par in the Kia Classic, but it is a tournament she will always remember. The 38-year old had a hole-in-one on Sunday to become the second player in LPGA history to record 2 aces in the same golf tournament. Diaz aced the third hole on Saturday, and holed out from the tee on the sixth hole on Sunday. If that was not enough, she then holed out for eagle on her next hole on Sunday for a rare 1,2 on her scorecard on the final round.
Next week the PGA moves on to Houston for the Shell Houston Open before the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National the following week. The LPGA will stage their first major tournament of the year next week with the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, CA.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky