The week after the Masters usually means a trip to Hilton Head for the PGA Tour. But, with a 2011 schedule change, the Tour instead tees it up in San Antonio this week for the playing of the Valero Texas Open at TPC of Antonio's AT&T Oaks Course. A world-class field is on hand, including defending champion Adam Scott, Texas legend and former three-time champ Justin Leonard and Anthony Kim, just to name a few. Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with TPC San Antonio Director of Golf Jimmy Terry, who set things up for what's sure to be an exciting week.
PGA.com: This year you have a new date -- the week after the Masters, the year's first major. It looks like you still have a stellar field, which isn't always the case for tournaments played the week after a major. Can you tell us a little about your field?
Terry: The field this year is very, very good which speaks highly of our title sponsor and their charitable efforts, our host organization, our course, our club and our resort. The course and the resort form a wonderful, comprehensive facility for the players and their families. Word is getting out about us and it shows with a number of new players in the field this year, including major champions Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Weir, Stewart Cink and Angel Cabrera, Ryder Cup heroes Anthony Kim and J.B. Holmes, as well as players who are having great starts to 2011, such as Martin Laird and Jhonattan Vegas. Then, obviously, we love having our native Texans play here like Justin Leonard and San Antonio's own Jimmy Walker and Cameron Beckman.
PGA.com: Last year, you had the likes of Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley and Ernie Els among those in the mix down the stretch on Sunday. Scott eventually won. Does it get any better than having the big-name players battle it out down the stretch?
Terry: Our course is set up for a great finish. With two par 5s in the last five holes, coupled with a drivable par 4 and one of the most interesting and unusual par 3s in golf, players have a chance to move up the leaderboard down the stretch. We loved having those players in the mix last year; however, should there be big names around the top or not, the finish on Sunday should be exciting and dramatic.
PGA.com: This will be the second time the tournament is played at TPC San Antonio. Last year was a great success. After that experience, did you find anything you could build on for this year? If so, what was it?
Terry: We are looking forward to building on the momentum created from hosting such a successful event last year. There have been a few minor tweaks to the course and the tournament hospitality and seating set-up. We are playing the event about 40 days earlier than last year, so the course is overseeded for this year's competition. Since we played the event about 100 days after we opened our resort and club last year, this year seems a bit less frantic. Our Director of Golf Course Maintenance, Tom Lively, and his team, along with our PGA Head Golf Professional, Jeremy Wiernasz, and his team have been working toward this week for some time. All of our team took copius notes during the event last year and created action plans to help improve everyone's experience this year. Everything is looking great. It should be a great week.
PGA.com: What's your single favorite part of tournament week?
Terry: Sunday night at 6 p.m.! Just kidding. I'm not sure I have a single favorite thing, although hearing the announcement of Valero's contribution to charity on Tuesday is awesome. Having the opportunity to host the best players in the world is terrific. It's a blessing to be a part of such a great facility and work for such a great company as the PGA TOUR. In fact, this year we get to host two TOUR events. In addition to the Valero Texas Open, we will play host to the Champion's Tour, AT&T Championship in October on the AT&T Canyons course. Another great week and opportunity to share our club with the golfing world.
PGA.com: Final question, Jimmy. We can't talk about Texas golf, specifically in San Antonio , without mentioning the tournament's former three-time champ, Justin Leonard. What's your favorite golf memory of Justin Leonard? It's probably tough to top that putt at Brookline in 1999, but is there something else you can offer up?
Terry: Justin was named the Southern Texas PGA Amatuer of the Year in 1993 and I had the opportunity to visit with him and his coach, Randy Smith, prior to the awards banquet. I was very impressed with Justin and have been a fan and follower ever since. I was especially impressed when he made the cut and was low amatuer in the U.S. Open the next summer. He has had a fantastic career highlighted by not only the 1999 Ryder Cup, but his Open Championship win in 1997 and his PLAYERS Championship in 1998. I will also remember his dual with Davis Love III at Winged Foot in the 1997 PGA Championship. He showed great sportsmanship in his reaction to Davis' on the 18th hole.