Walker returns to defend Texas crown

Updated: 

The Texas Open gets underway on Thursday, with defending champion and Texan native Jimmy Walker looking to go back-to-back.

Only two players have managed to clinch consecutive titles at the tournament this century, with Justin Leonard (2000-01) and Zach Johnson (2008-09) the men to do so.

But Walker, who has not won on the PGA Tour since reigning supreme at TPC San Antonio 12 months ago, has the chance to add himself to that list this week.

The 37-year-old, though, must navigate a field including Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Patrick Reed.

Bryson DeChambeau will also make his second appearance as a professional, a week on from his impressive performance at the RBC Heritage, where he tied for fourth.


GRACE HUNGRY FOR MORE AFTER BREAKING THROUGH ON TOUR

Branden Grace had won seven European Tour titles but PGA Tour success had eluded him until last week, when he delivered a final-round masterclass to lift the RBC Heritage trophy. The 27-year-old is now looking forward to more wins, potentially starting in Texas.


FLOODS NOT EXPECTED TO IMPACT TOURNAMENT

Deadly floods have swept through Texas, with governor Greg Abbott declaring a state of disaster for nine counties around Houston. But TPC San Antonio remains in great shape, despite the significant rainfall. Course Superintendent Tom Lively said: "The course drains relatively well. There are a couple of little wet spots, but the greens are in excellent condition. I think the players will really enjoy it."


DONALD NEEDS TO BUILD ON HARBOUR TOWN SHOWING

Regardless of how you look at Luke Donald's showing at the RBC Heritage, all eyes will be on the former world number one in Texas. After taking the 54-hole lead last week, Donald capitulated to finish two strokes behind Grace, his third finish as runner-up at the tournament. It left the Englishman still seeking his first Tour win since 2012, but undoubtedly encouraged heading to the Oaks Course.


WALKER TOO GOOD FOR SPIETH IN 2015

It was an event to remember for Walker last year after the Texan cruised to a four-stroke victory at the expense of Spieth at his hometown event. The American carded a final-round 70 as he claimed a fifth Tour crown.


TEXAS FIELD FULL OF WINNERS, SPIETH A RARE ABSENTEE

Of the 156 players set to feature at the tournament, 76 have triumphed on the PGA Tour, while nine have won major championships. 

World number two and Dallas native Spieth will miss his first Texas event since turning professional at the end of 2012.


WALKER HOPES FOR CLEAR SKIES

Amid the relentless downpour in Texas, Walker said: "[The course] is in great shape. I know we've gotten the better end of it compared to a couple of places in Texas. Hopefully it holds out."