Martin Laird claimed the final spot in golf’s Masters Tournament with a two-shot win at the U.S. PGA Tour’s Texas Open, where he tied the course record during the final round and held off a challenge from Rory McIlroy.
Laird’s 9-under-par 63 yesterday was the low round of the tournament by three shots at the TPC San Antonio and gave him a four-round total of 14-under-par 274. McIlroy finished second at 12-under after a 6-under-par 66 in the final event before the Masters, the first of golf’s four major championships.
“I’ve been asked probably 30 times in the last couple of weeks, ‘Are you in Augusta?’” Laird said yesterday in a televised interview. “Every time I said ‘no’ it kind of hurt me a little bit. So that was my major motivation trying to get back into tournaments like that.”
Laird, a 30-year-old Scot, is the first non-American to win on the PGA Tour in 15 events this season. He made nine birdies and no bogeys after beginning the final round five shots behind third-round leader Billy Horschel, who tied Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman for third place at 11-under.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Rory or Jim or Billy, if someone’s behind me making birdies like they were, I know I’ve got to keep making birdies,” said Laird, who received $1.12 million. “That was a pretty strong leaderboard at the top there. I tried to stay aggressive all day.”
Laird’s previous successes on the PGA Tour came at the 2009 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2011.
Players now head to Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters, which is scheduled to begin April 11.
Tiger Woods is the 7-2 favorite at U.K. bookmaker William Hill to end an eight-year wait for a fifth title at Augusta National. Woods, the world’s top-ranked golfer, hasn’t won a major title since he claimed his 14th at the 2008 U.S. Open.
McIlroy, a two-time major winner, is the second favorite to win the Masters, at 8-1, followed by three-time champion Phil Mickelson, who is rated an 11-1 chance by William Hill.
“I feel like my game’s in really good shape going into next week,” McIlroy said at a news conference yesterday. “A round like that gives me a nice little bit of confidence.”
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