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Laird Wins Valero, Gets Into Masters; Summerhays Finishes Seventh, Passes $300,000

Daniel Summerhays birdied the last three holes to climb into seventh place, his highest finish of the year, at the San Antonio Open Sunday. He finished at 280, six shots behind the winner Martin Laird. Summerhays shot three rounds of 69 and had a third round 72.Laird’s win was huge as it got him into the Masters. He became the 94th player.Some of the top stars took the week off prior to the Masters, but the San Antonio field included Rory McIlroy who finished second at 276, four shots ahead of Summerhays. Jim Furyk was at 277.Summerhays is now 95th on the money list and moved to over $300,000 for the year.It was a stunning reversal for Laird, who admittedly had been having a terrible year.”Unbelievable,” Laird said. “I’ve been asked 30 times in the last two weeks, ‘Are you going to Augusta?’ Everytime I say no, it hurt. It was a major motivation.”Laird doesn’t have to say no anymore.”I finally got the putter going,” said Laird, who made nine birdies, including three straight to finish.McIlroy’s runner-up finish was the other major development in San Antonio. The No. 2-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings flashed superior form down the stretch and produced the kind of golf that had been absent from him.McIlroy said he was most pleased by having eliminated some of the mental mistakes he had been making.”Finishing it off with a round like this, it’s a great way to go into Augusta,” McIlroy said. “I’m really pleased with my game.”Laird will be making his third-straight appearance in the Masters. He made the cut in each of the first two years, finishing 20th in 2011 and tying for 57th in 2012.The 30-year-old Scot has won twice on the PGA Tour. He captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2011 to get into the Masters field. In 2009, Laird, a Glasgow native, won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.His best rounds at Augusta National were back-to-back 69s in 2011 that left him in contention through 54 holes before a final-round 73.Five players have won the week prior to the Masters Tournament and then gone on to win in Augusta – Ralph Guldahl (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1939, Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1949, Art Wall (Azalea Open) in 1959, Sandy Lyle (Greater Greensboro Open) in 1988 and Phil Mickelson (BellSouth Classic) in 2006.The last player to win the tournament the week before the Masters to earn an invitation was Johnson Wagner in 2008 at Houston.Laird joins six other golfers who played their way into this week’s Masters by winning in 2013. Brian Gay (Humana Challenge), John Merrick (Northern Trust Open), Kevin Streelman (Tampa Bay Championship) and D.A. Points (Shell Houston Open) are returning to Augusta National. Gay (2009), Streelman (2011) and Points (2011) did not make the cut in their debuts. Merrick played in 2009 and 2010, finishing sixth in his Masters debut.Russell Henley (Sony Open) and Michael Thompson (Honda Classic) are first-time winners who will be making their initial Masters Tournament appearances.