Westin Texas Open: Young Guns Tee It Up in Long-Running Competition

By David R. Holland, Contributor

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- What do you do when there's no prayer to secure Tiger Woods for your golf tournament?

The folks at the Westin Texas Open say you invite the young guns and be thankful at least one half of the PGA Championship's Sunday duel -- Bob May -- has committed.

Unfortunately, Battle at Bighorn winner Sergio Garcia won't be here either.

The Texas Open, however, has history on its side. It has been around 77 years, making it the fourth longest running golf competition in the U.S.

There will be 156 golfers teeing it up in the Texas heat on Thursday, September 21, at the La Cantera Golf Club. And they will be playing for a record tournament purse of $2.6 million.

Defending champion Duffy Waldorf will compete for a record first place check of $468,000. Last year, Waldorf , a two-time winner in the Texas Open, pocketed a respectable $360,000, defeating Ted Tryba after one hole of sudden death.

The young guns obtaining sponsor exemptions include David Gossett, Charles Howell, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar.

Former Texas Longhorn golfer Gossett, the 1999 U.S. Amateur Champion, was awarded an exemption to play in the 1999 Westin Texas Open but missed the cut. He turned pro at The International at Castle Pines in August.

Howell has been tabbed as a possible future competitor for Mr. Woods since his professional debut at the Canon Greater Hartford Open. At the John Deere Classic, Howell fell one shot short of entering a playoff with eventual winner Michael Clark and Kirk Triplett. His check for $176,000 put him close to earning conditional member status on the PGA Tour.

If Howell earns enough money to finish in the Top 125, he will bypass the PGA's Qualifying School and have full playing privileges for 2001. Howell was a star at Oklahoma State which won the 2000 NCAA Division I Championship. He was a First Team All-American and garnered the Jack Nicklaus Award as the NCAA College Player of the Year.

Aussie Scott, who is coached by Tiger's tutor Butch Harmon, played at UNLV. As an amateur this year, he showed his abilities by posting Top Ten finishes at international tournaments against some of the top professionals in the world. He earned a tie for 3rd at the 2000 Victorian Open, a tie for 5th at the 2000 Benson & Hedges International and a tie for 6th at the Moroccan Open.

Kuchar made his mark by winning the U.S. Amateur. His victory there made him eligible to compete in the following years' Masters and British Open. Kuchar indicated that his intent at this time is to play in the Westin Texas Open at La Cantera as an amateur. However, he does retain the option to turn professional prior to the tournament.

Along with Valhalla hero May, veteran Fred Funk, who finished 9th in the PGA Championship, could be a favorite at La Cantera. Funk, currently No. 58 on the money list, is having a steady 2000 campaign and he had his best year on Tour in 1999, with three second place finishes and eight top 10s. Funk ended the year ranked 16th on the money list with more than $1.6 million in earnings.

Four of the United States' 2000 Presidents Cup team will be coming to the Texas Open -- Hal Sutton, Loren Roberts, Stewart Cink and Triplett. The Presidents Cup is scheduled for the week of October 16-22 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia.

Other notable commitments include: Brian Henninger, Rich Beem and Sandy Lyle.

Past champions include Ben Crenshaw, Corey Pavin, Hal Sutton, Jay Haas, Nick Price and Mark O'Meara.

Tickets: Call TicketMaster at 877-280-7145 or visit select TicketMaster outlets or H-E-B locations in and around San Antonio. For information on hospitality or ticket packages, please contact Golf San Antonio at 210-341-0823 or visit the Golf San Antonio web site at www.golfsanantonio.org.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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