GUESTS residing at the on-course San Antonio JW Marriott hotel will be reminded every time they enter their room that Martin Laird is the Valero Texas Open defending champion.
Tournament organisers arranged for 5000 room cards to be printed for use in the 1002-room, nine-storey hotel that towers over the TPC San Antonio layout. It's the first occasion the $6.2m event has gone to such lengths, with Laird arriving late on Sunday night from Orlando to also be greeted by posters of himself adorning pillars in the baggage halls at San Antonio Airport.
"It looked like Martin Laird Airport as there were so many posters and then to see my ugly mug on the JW Marriott room cards is incredible," he said. "But then it's a nice reminder of my victory here last year, and it's just nice also to be coming back to a place where I had my best-ever ball-striking round in shooting that final-day 63."
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However, after finishing at the tail of the field last Sunday in Orlando, which led to him dropping out of the world's top-100 to 101st, Laird's first task to was to spend time on the San Antonio range on Monday with his coach, Randy Smith. Though that was reduced to only two hours due to rain lashing the famed "Alamo" city before a more lengthy session yesterday.
Laird continues to give the thumbs-up to his shortened former belly putter after cutting six inches off it at the start of season, but he insists it was not a move to conform to new rules from January 2016 banning any anchoring of clubs.
"It's no longer a belly putter and it's not anchored, it's more like a mock belly putter that measures 41 inches which is still a bit longer than the standard putters," he said.
"I made the change at the start of the year in Maui and my putting's become a lot more consistent and it's nothing to do with the rule change. I just need to putt better."
Laird also confirmed he will not contest next week's Shell Houston Open and the final qualifying event for the Masters meaning if he is to join Sandy Lyle and Stephen Gallacher he will need to repeat last year's San Antonio winning effort.