The next two weeks on the PGA Tour provide us with a tournament within a tournament.
First, this week, the Valero Texas Open takes place at TPC San Antonio. The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking come Sunday night -- if not already exempt -- will lock up their respective invitation to the Masters in two weeks. The winner -- also if not already exempt -- will head to Augusta National as well.
Then, next week, the Shell Houston Open is the final chance for players not otherwise exempt for the Masters to punch a last-minute ticket. That will require a win.
For now, we'll focus on the Valero Texas Open, where Steven Bowditch is the defending champion. The field features 13 major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III.
Here are five players to watch.
5. Ben Curtis
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T29 at Sanderson Farms Championship
Reason to watch: Curtis will be the first to admit that it hasn't exactly been a season to remember to this point. He's missed the cut four times in six starts, including the last three in a row. The last time he made a cut resulted in a T44 at the OHL Classic back in the middle of November. I'm just taking a chance on Curtis this week. Something's got to give. He won the event in 2012, so he has familiarity and past success to draw on. Things need to turn around for the former British Open champ, so why not this week? He's one of those guys who will need a win to make the Masters.
4. Ryan Palmer
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T2 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open
Reason to watch: It's hard to believe that this three-time Tour winner hasn't won more. He seems to be in contention an awful lot, but just has a problem closing out. It would mean everything to this native Texan to win in the Lone Star State. Palmer tied for ninth in the Texas Open in 2010. Palmer is already in the Masters, so I want to see him firing at pins this week and letting it all hang out.
3. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: 7th at Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Johnson is a former two-time champion of this event. However, those wins came in 2008 and 2009 when the event was still played at La Cantera. Since the move to TPC San Antonio in 2010, Johnson has played just twice. He missed the cut in 2010 and tied for sixth in 2014. I like Johnson mainly because I always like him in the state of Texas, where he's captured four of his 11 PGA Tour wins. His T9 last week at Bay Hill might have been a little momentum builder for the former Masters champ.
2. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Sony Open in Hawaii
Reason to watch: Yet again, Walker is enjoying another outstanding season -- four top 10s (including a win) in nine starts and no missed cuts. He's established himself as a favorite whenever and wherever he tees it up. A win this week would be his fifth on the PGA Tour and few would be as sweet as this one would come in his home state.
1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won the Valspar Championship
Reason to watch: This is Spieth's first start since winning his second Tour event two weeks ago in Tampa. The 21-year-old is establishing himself as a star and it would be sweet to shine again this week in his home state. Notice the theme here? Lots of Texans in the field. Also, Spieth has his sights set on the Masters, where he was a runner up in his first start a year ago. His game -- always consistent -- seems to be peaking at just the right time.
5. Henrik Stenson -- 2nd
4. Keegan Bradley -- T49
3. Rickie Fowler -- T29
2. Adam Scott -- T35
1. Jason Day -- T17
2015 Masters Field List
Spieth, Jordan (12,17,18), United States of America
- Masters Tournament Champions (Lifetime)
- US Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
- British Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
- PGA Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
- Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
- Current US Amateur Champion (6-A) (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year) and the runner-up (6-B) to the current US Amateur Champion
- Current British Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year)
- Current Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
- Current Latin America Amateur Champion
- Current US Amateur Public Links Champion
- Current US Mid-Amateur Champion
- The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters Tournament
- The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's US Open Championship
- The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's British Open Championship
- The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship
- Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
- Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship
- The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
- The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament
Past Champions Not Expected To Play in 2015
- Tommy Aaron
- Jack Burke Jr.
- Charles Coody
- Nick Faldo
- Raymond Floyd
- Doug Ford
- Bob Goalby
- Jack Nicklaus
- Arnold Palmer
- Gary Player
- Craig Stadler
- Fuzzy Zoeller
Albatrosses are the rarest of birds on golf courses. In the 36 years since the Arnold Palmer Invitational was founded, no one had ever recorded one -- until Daniel Berger did it Saturday.
Make that two in two days.
SHARE YOUR HOLE-IN-ONE: Post the details on social media at #PGAace or #PGAholeinone
At the par-5 16th in Sunday's final round, Zach Johnson hit this 5-iron from 207 yards. And watch what happens:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 22, 2015
According to the NBC Golf Channel broadcast, fewer than 125 albatrosses have been recorded on the PGA Tour since 1970. And yet Berger and Johnson accomplished it in back-to-back rounds this weekend at Bay Hill.
Johnson says he saw the tournament host on the 16th tee and went over to shake his hand. He figured some of the Palmer magic rubbed off on him. Johnson shot 66.
U.S. OPEN ACE: Zach Johnson makes a hole-in-one at Pinehurst No. 2
It was only the seventh time since the PGA Tour began keeping records in 1983 that two players made a double eagle in the same tournament. The last time was in 2007 at The Players Championship.
A rare commonality, to be sure. Some people call them double eagles. In this instance, it's more like albatross-albatross.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.