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Laird Shines in San Antonio
Martin Laird rallied from a five-stroke deficit entering the final round with a course-record-tying 9-under 63 to win the $6.2 million Valero Texas Open on the AT&T Oaks course at TPC San Antonio. In addition to earning $1.116 million and 500 FedEx Cup points, the 30-year-old Scotsman qualified for a spot in next week's Masters Tournament.
After posting five birdies on the front nine, the Glasgow native added four more on the back on Sunday. In addition to being flawless from tee to green, he needed only 22 putts en route to his first victory since the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational and his third overall on the PGA Tour.
Laird, who finished at 14-under 274, knew he was in for a good week, saying at greenside, "I felt really good coming in . . . I really like this golf course." As for earning a trip to Augusta National for the third time in his career, he added, "That was my major motivation this week . . . to get back there."
Rallying to a runner-up finish was Rory McIlroy, who closed with a 6-under 66 to end up two strokes behind Laird. After posting four birdies and a bogey on the front side, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman began the home half with a bogey on the par-4 10th before tacking on four more birdies for his best round of the tournament.
"Over the last few rounds, just eliminating the mental mistakes," McIroy said at greenside of the keys to his improved play.
The two-time major champion, who put the Valero Texas Open on his schedule just last Sunday, now has his sights set on the Masters. "To finish off this tournament with a round like today is obviously great going into Augusta. I'm really pleased with my game - I think this has been a great week for me."
McIlroy, whose second place was his highest finish since winning last year's BMW Championship, tipped his cap to the winner, saying, "Martin just played too good today. A 63 in these conditions on this course was just fantastic."
By winning Sunday, Laird halted an all-American streak of winners in 2013; Yanks had won the first 14 events of the season.
Billy Horschel, who led after the second and third rounds, posted a 71 and slipped into a tie for third at 277 with Jim Furyk (69) and Charley Hoffman (69). Furyk capped his day by holing out from 100 yards on the par-5 closer at the Oaks course for an eagle.
Ending up in solo sixth after a 68 at 279 was South Korea's K.J. Choi, while sharing seventh at 8-under 280 were Daniel Summerhays (69), Jeff Overton (69) and Bob Estes (70). American Martin Flores (68), Germany's Marcel Siem (69) and Ireland's Padraig Harrington (70) tied for 10th at 281.
Despite his top-10 finish, Siem was the tournament's hard-luck player. Entering San Antonio ranked 50th in the world rankings off his win in last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on the European Tour - with the top-50 earning automatic berths in the year's first major, Siem ended up just missing out on a cherished top-50 spot.
Alone in 13th at 282 was American Richard H. Lee (69), and another stroke back was England's David Lynn (70). Tied for 15th were Australia's Aaron Baddeley (69), Ireland's Shane Lowry (70), Sweden's Freddie Jacobson (69), and Americans Kevin Chappell (68), Jason Kokrak (70), D.J. Trahan (72) and Ryan Palmer (74).
Defending champion Ben Curtis closed with a 70 to finish in 31st at 287.
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