Brand new challenge for Texas Open champion Johnson

Updated: May 13, 2010, 11:03 AM IST

Texas: Former US Masters champion Zach Johnson is viewing this week`s Texas Open in San Antonio as a fresh challenge, though he will be bidding to emulate Arnold Palmer by winning the event for a third year in a row.

Johnson triumphed last year in a playoff with fellow American James Driscoll at LaCantera Golf Club`s Resort Course, but this week he defends his title on the brand new Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio.

"No one has seen it so no one has an advantage, except for maybe some local guys," Johnson told reporters in the build-up to Thursday`s opening round. "Focusing on last year`s win isn`t going to help me make the cut or win this golf tournament.”

"I certainly like looking at shots and the way I executed shots during those wins, but all in all it`s a new week on a new golf course at a new facility."

Asked if he enjoyed a comfort level with the event returning to the familiar surrounds of San Antonio, the 2007 Masters champion said it does not really cross his mind.

"It may if we were playing the same golf course, but I don`t dwell on it. I`ve had a lot of instances where I`ve had good finishes or even a win, and I`ve missed the cut (at the same venue) the next year."

While Johnson will be seeking to match Palmer`s hat-trick of titles, Texan Justin Leonard will be aiming to become the event`s first four-time winner. Leonard followed in Palmer`s footsteps by winning his third Texas Open crown in 2007.

First Appearance

South African world number seven Ernie Els, who heads the field this week, will make his first appearance at the event.

"I felt like I needed to play soon, especially feeling that my game came around Friday afternoon at TPC," Els said, referring to his missed cut at last week`s Players Championship in Florida.

"I heard it was a different golf course ... I`m glad we have a fairly tough challenge here this week," added the three-times major champion, who has won twice on the 2010 PGA Tour.

Among other big names competing this week are former world number one Vijay Singh of Fiji and Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who was player consultant to the course designer, Greg Norman.

The par-72 Oaks Course layout, which opened for play earlier this year, measures 7,522 yards off the back tees.

Bureau Report