Valero Texas Open: Laird set for defence

2014 03 464872471

The Valero Texas Open is this week's PGA Tour stop, with Scotsman Martin Laird aiming to defend his title.

Last year, Laird birdied the final three holes on his way to a course record nine-under-par 63, which saw him hold off a chasing pack, that included Rory McIlroy, to claim his third career PGA Tour title.

So far this year, the Glasgow man has struggled to recapture that form, his best finish coming at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he tied for 19th.

Laird will be partnered in the opening two rounds by a pair of players who will be heavily fancied to succeed him as champion: five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and American rising star Jordan Spieth.

FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker is another real contender. The American has started the season with a bang and, with three wins in just 11 starts, he has has all the credentials to make the Valero Texas Open his fourth.

Meanwhile, last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Matt Every showed he can raise his game when it matters most. Two birdies in the final three holes at Bay Hill saw him notch his first PGA Tour victory. Will we see him among the leaders this week, too?
"I came to the Valero Texas Open last year probably actually playing worse than I am this year." - Martin Laird

Matt Kuchar has six top ten finishes in his last ten starts but has struggled to turn his good form into a win so far this year. Could the Valero Texas Open be the week where ‘Kuch’ finally gets rewarded for his consistency. Former Masters winner Zach Johnson will also be expected to contend.

As such, Martin Laird will need to raise his game if he is to retain his title - and that's something he's well aware of.

"I'd say my game is a little bit of work in progress," said the Glasgow man, who pin-pointed his iron play as the area where he has been struggling most of late. "I've been playing solid, just not great. You hear all the time people saying they're close. I feel like I am pretty close. I feel like I'm playing a little bit better than my results.

"I came in here last year probably actually playing worse than I am this year and managed to win. You never know with the golf course.
Obviously, it's a golf course I love and feel comfortable on. Hopefully that motivates me to kind of turn it around a little bit this week."

Who is your pick to win the Valero Texas Open?

Who do you think will win the Valero Texas Open? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

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