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Patrick Rodgers heads into the final round of the 2023 Texas Open on Sunday with the solo lead at 12 under. In search of the first victory of his career in his 235th start, the former Stanford standout is aiming to break through at the most critical of times as not only a large payday and future playing privileges remain on the line but also the final invitation into the 2023 Masters next week at Augusta National Golf Club.

Should Rodgers convert his fourth 54-hole lead into a victory, the 30-year-old would make the trip to Augusta for the first time in his career. The same cannot be said of his closest pursuer as Canadian Corey Conners sits at 11 under and has made his hay at the Masters in recent years. The world No. 40 looks primed to grab his second Texas Open victory and roll into the year's first major championship with all the momentum in the world. Conners has claimed three straight top-10 finishes at Augusta National, and is one of the few potential candidates to don the green jacket to tee it up this week in Texas.

Matt Kuchar, Sam Stevens and Chris Kirk round out those within four strokes of Rodgers with eyes on slipping on the cowboy boots Sunday evening at TPC San Antonio.

The leader

1. Patrick Rodgers (-12)

Rodgers closed his third round with a bogey on the accessibly par-5 18th and will make dinner taste that much more sour. Trimming his lead to just one, this mistake could have a trickle-down effect on his play tomorrow. He is 0-for-3 in his career in converting 54-hole leads and has claimed three runner-up finishes as well. With proven winners such as Conners, Kuchar and Kirk breathing down his neck, Rodgers will have to go out and earn his first PGA Tour victory.

Other contenders

2. Corey Conners (-11)
3. Matt Kuchar (-9)
T4. Sam Stevens, Chris Kirk (-8)
T6. Byeong Hun An, Sam Ryder, Padraig Harrington, Lee Hodges, Augusto Nunez, Harry Higgs (-7)
T12. Hideki Matsuyama, Dylan Wu, Andrew Putnam, S.H. Kim, Nick Taylor, Nico Echavarria (-6)

Conners will play a factor in this tournament, and possibly the same next week, but let's instead focus on the 2021 Masters champion. Matsuyama withdrew from his last tournament at the WGC-Dell Match Play and at this very event as a season ago in the lead-up to his title defense. The man from Japan ultimately finished T14 at the 2022 Masters and makes you wonder what his prospects could be for next week. 

One week he finishes inside the top five at the Players Championship -- the stoutest field of the year -- and the next he tweaks his neck. He appears healthy through 54 holes of the Texas Open and ranks fifth in strokes gained tee to green -- an encouraging sign for his Masters chances.

Can Paddy turn back the clocks?

The 2021 European Ryder Cup captain will head into the final round just five strokes off the pace of Rodgers. Harrington has performed admirably on the Champions Tour but looks to make his mark on the PGA Tour one last time -- which the 51-year-old isn't too far removed. Just two years ago, Harrington contended at the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and finished T4. This result earned him an invitation into the 2022 Masters -- his first since 2015 -- and perhaps this year, a win in San Antonio can punch the three-time major champion's ticket to Augusta National yet again.

"It was a nice score today, nice back nine, took my chances," said Harrington. "I'm not quite sure if there was some easy pins and some tough pins. So seems like the scoring isn't that good, so I'm quite happy with it. I certainly lost a few shots yesterday looking at that cut, probably lost two or three shots. I looked up at the leaderboard after 11 holes yesterday and saw I was in, like, 12th spot but only three shots off the cut and I froze for a good five holes. Yeah, so kind of regretting those now ... Maybe a low one tomorrow will get us in the hunt."

Rick Gehman is joined by Greg DuCharme to discuss moving day at the 2023 Valero Texas Open. Can Patrick Rodgers finally get his first PGA Tour victory and punch his ticket to Augusta National? Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Fowler will fall short

The resurgence has been fun to follow, but Rickie Fowler will be an omission from the Masters. Sitting at 2 under and in a tie for 43rd, Fowler will need a minor miracle to claim victory and the final invitation to Augusta National. Still, there is plenty to be proud of for the five-time winner on the PGA Tour as he continues to show strides from tee to green where he ranks 15th this week.

2023 Texas Open updated odds, picks

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Corey Conners: 19/10
  • Patrick Rodgers: 2-1
  • Matt Kuchar: 25/4
  • Chris Kirk: 12-1
  • Sam Stevens: 22-1

Rodgers, Conners and Kuchar all rank inside the top four in strokes gained tee to green this week, so it is no surprise to see them atop the leaderboard. With all else equal, this may lead to the final 18 holes coming down to which player performs the best on the greens. This being the case, Kuchar should be the selection as he is worlds more reliable with the putter than Rodgers and Conners. The 44-year-old finished runner-up at this event last season and is primed to exact revenge and punch his ticket to Augusta National in the process.