Many of the games biggest stars have descended on the Lone Star State this week for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks course.
Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth are among the players who will be teeing it up in the second-to-last event before the season's first major.
As you can imagine, there's a lot of excitement in the air in San Antonio. That's where we caught up with Rob Nader, the PGA Head Professional at TPC San Antonio for a little Q&A.
Nader talked about the significance of having Mickelson in the field for the first time in a long time, the longevity of the Texas Open -- which is the third oldest event on the PGA Tour -- and more.
PGA.com: A significant announcement was made for your tournament last week -- Phil Mickelson is in the field. What kind of boost does that give the tournament?
Nader: Adding Phil Mickelson will have a huge impact on the spectator turnout for the 2014 Valero Texas Open. Not only will it line the fairways with great golf fans, but I believe it speaks highly to the work that all those involved have put forth to make the Valero Texas Open a great PGA Tour event, and a perfect lead-off to the start of the Texas swing.
PGA.com: While Mickelson is no doubt the headliner, with or without him, you'd still have a stellar field of stars. Can you tell us a little about the field and some other players to watch for?
Nader: Mickelson was a great addition to the field, no doubt. We're also proud to welcome host Martin Laird, who returns to defend his title. While Jim Furyk, Charley Hoffman and Billy Horschel come back from top-3 finishes last year, local favorites like Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Leonard will all battle the Texas winds around the AT&T Oaks course. Zach Johnson has some great history with the Valero Texas Open having won back to back years in 2008 and 2009, and has been playing very well in the new season. The list goes on and on with past PGA Tour and major championship winners.
PGA.com: The Valero Texas Open is the third oldest event on the PGA Tour and the fifth oldest tournament in North America. Furthermore -- and a rarity -- all 84 contested Texas Opens have been held in San Antonio. What makes San Antonio such a special golf haven?
Nader: San Antonio embodies such a rich history of golf from a professional level, but has really come on strong as a golf destination for amateurs as well. With TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott San Antonio Resort and Spa as just one of many other fabulous golf resorts in town, it's the perfect golf get-a-way.
PGA.com: TPC San Antonio is unique in that each of the two courses on the property hosts a PGA Tour event (AT&T Oaks) and a Champions Tour event (AT&T Canyons). What's that like?
Nader: Being only one of three properties to host two Tour events annually is something pretty special for all of us at the club.
The opportunity to host golf legends from the Champions Tour, while seeing today's superstars in the spring offers that much more to all of our Members and Guests. It's also a great development accolade to all of our PGA Professionals on staff who assist in setting up for each of those events.
PGA.com: What is it about Valero Texas Open week that you most look forward to?
Nader: The week of the Valero Texas Open is a special week, in which we are able to display the very best golfers in the world to all of those who love the game so much. Hosting a PGA Tour event at your club is probably the PGA Professional's version of bringing a guest to your Annual Member Guest. In addition, it's such a thrill to partner with Valero, our host organization, and the hundreds of volunteers in helping to provide such an impact to the local community through the charity dollars that are raised from the Valero Texas Open.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.