The Valero Texas Open: Masters preparation calls for the right approach at TPC San Antontio

With just one week till the Masters both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy tee it up this week in the Lone Star State.

The clock is ticking.

The drive up Magnolia Lane is less than a week away.

For Jordan Spieth the week before the Masters has been a no-brainer: the Texan is happy to tee it up in his home state and get the competitive juices flowing.

He'll return this week to defend the trophy he won in fine style 12 month ago.

For Rory McIlroy the decision to tee it up is something of a break with the past.

The last time he played the week before a trip to the Masters was way back in 2014.

This year, however, his quest for the Green Jacket that will complete the career grand slam will begin in San Antonio.

Let's take a closer look at the records of Spieth and McIlroy ahead of a Major, plus a couple of other key angles for the week.

Major prep: Spieth

Spieth likes teeing it up the week before a Major and he doesn't faff about either.

Rather, he likes the idea of hitting the big week running.

He's played the week before 19 of his Major starts, recording eight top 10 finishes including one second, one third and three wins.

The first two triumphs came in the John Deere Classic ahead of the Open, last year he won this event before the Masters. He's also been second and third in the Houston Open before making his way to Augusta National.

Major prep: McIlroy

McIlroy has been less keen to play the week before the Masters.

He's done it just four times with two top 10s including second in this tournament in 2013.

In all he's landed 10 top 10s from 21 pre-Major starts with two victories (the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational and 2019 Canadian Open).

However, he really enjoyed playing the Invitational at Firestone and, if you pull results there from his pre-Major record, you get: 13 starts, four top 10s (one of them a win).

The winning approach

Asked about the course, Rickie Fowler said: "It's fairly generous off the tee until you get some wind blowing out here, which I know it can, but it's very much a second-shot golf course. There's some tough but fun second shots out here."

The importance of good approach shots was backed up by something 2017 winner Kevin Chappell.

"I believe I was third last year in greens in regulation," he said, adding: "It's such a difficult scrambling course because of the wind and how severe some of the runoffs are around the greens.

"It's important to get the ball on the green when you can and not necessarily force a shot in there to try to get a birdie look because there's not many out there."

The stats reiterate all these thoughts.

Chappell ranked second for Strokes Gained Approach in his win and the last three winners have also excelled in that category: Andrew Landry in 2018 and Corey Conners in 2019 were first, Jordan Spieth last year was fourth.

Hitting greens in regulation, as Chappell hinted, also mattered. He was third, Landry and Conners first, as was 2015 winner Jimmy Walker.

Texas Ranger

Golf in Texas suits specialists and none more so than Charley Hoffman.

From the Korn Ferry Tour in the early years of this century right through to last year he has always thrived in the Lone Star State, pretty much whichever course he has played on.

He was a winner on the second tier back in 2004 and his success has been maintained ever since he hit the top level.

He's got six top 25 finishes at Colonial Country Club with a best of third last summer.

He has another half dozen top 25s at Houston Country Club.

And six more at Las Colinas (best of second in 2015).

He landed three top 15s in just four visits to La Cantera.

And his best record of all is here at TPC San Antonio where he has made 11 starts, never missed a cut, recording nine top 15 finishes.

More incredibly he has five top three finishes, including three second and victory in 2016.

In all, he has 25 top 20s, 14 of them top 10s, in 53 Texas starts.

READ MORE: The Chevron Championship: The first Major Championship of 2022 and the final year at Missions Hills

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