Golf Rankings for Texas Open
We head off to Texas to the Valero Texas Open played at TPC San Antonio on the AT&T Oaks course. The Oaks course is a par-72, 7,435 yard course with Bermudagrass on the greens yet again. It's a long course, but the narrow fairways and punitive bunkers take some of the air out of the long hitters' ability to outdrive the hazards. The tournament has been held at TPC San Antonio since 2010 so any results prior to 2010 aren't useful in evaluating course history. Steven Bowditch was the winner last year (somehow) even after putting up a final round 76. He was helped as the rest of the leader board cratered along with him in windy Sunday conditions and no one could make a charge.
Last year, Matt Kuchar finished fourth in the tournament and was in the top 10 in driving accuracy, proximity and scrambling. The winner Bowditch was in the top 15 in driving distance, greens in regulation (GIR) and scrambling. In looking at past results, you see the successful players are generally those who keep the ball out of trouble (accuracy and GIR) and can get themselves out of trouble (scrambling) if they do. You certainly don't need to be a bomber to succeed here. I've also started to incorporate some of the odds into my analysis. It's always be the basis for what I do, but I'm now showing a bit of my work. Let me know what you think.
Jordan Spieth [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #6
Spieth hails from Dallas, Texas and he’s the odds on favorite this week. He’ll be heavily owned in most formats. He finished solo tenth here last year (after opening with a 75) and he took last week off to bask in the glow of his own majestic presence (his win at the Valspar). The Texan has all the tools to succeed here.
Jimmy Walker [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #36
Walker missed the cut here in back to back years (2011 and 2012), but outside of those two hiccups his worst finish since the move to San Antonio has been a T31 in 2013. He finished T16 last year and that included an opening round 76. So, if he can get past the opening round jitters, he’s primed for a solid finish.
Jim Furyk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #79
Furyk has only played this tourney three times, but his last two stops have been here in San Antonio in the last two years and he’s’ been T3 and T6. He won’t win because he just can’t seem to close out on Sunday, but his record here is impeccable and has the game to stay out of trouble (T3 in GIR, eighth in driving accuracy) and can get out of trouble if needed (a respectable T64 in scrambling).
Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #15
Kuch has three straight top 25 finishes here including a T4 last year. He’s been fantastic this season making the cut in all eight tournaments. He has “struggled” lately with this two worst finishes of the season (T30 and T33) over this last three tour stops. But, his game sets up perfectly for this course as he sits 20th in driving accuracy, 4th in scrambling (after finishing 12th last year). He’s my premium player this week.
Ryan Palmer [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #103
Palmer’s history at the course is nothing special with two top 15s and a missed cut over the last five years. He is however from Texas which means his course history SHOULD be better. On the season he’s only missed one cut in seven tournaments and his worst finish is T25. His accuracy off the tee (165th) concerns me, but he ranks 19th in scrambling and ninth in strokes gained: tee to green so he makes up for that inaccuracy.
Dustin Johnson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #1
Johnson’s last five appearances on Tour have produced a MC, T4, T2, MC, WIN. Not too shabby for a guy who took six months off. He has never played this course, but that hasn’t stopped other newbies as Brendan Steele and Ben Curtis won in back to back years in their first stop in San Antonio. He’s the longest driver on tour in 2015 and third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He’s still working on his accuracy, but he’s a premium player who has shown the ability to hit greens in the past and be an average scrambler.
Zach Johnson [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #69
Johnson won this tournament in back to back years (2008 and 2009), but neither win was at the TPC. He missed the cut the first year the tournament moved, then didn’t appear again until last year when he finished T6. He closed out the Arnold Palmer last week a round of 66 (tied for the low Sunday round) so he’s got momentum coming into the Valero. You could flip Dustin and Zach Johnson and I wouldn't argue this week.
Kevin Na [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #64
Na has elevated to #22 in the OWGR off the strength of three straight top 10 finishes. He’s played the Oaks course three times and missed the cut once, withdrew once and finished T11 (last year). His form is currently better than anyone not named Jordan Spieth so he's a must own this week.
Charley Hoffman [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #49
Hoffman’s worst finish at the TPC is T13 in 2010 and 2012. He has two top 10s in those five years as well. He's been anything but an average golfer in his time at the TPC San Antonio. I'm not concerned with his current form as this course suits him and his game year in and year out.
Martin Laird [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #104
Laird won here in 2013 and then promptly missed the cut last year. His only other trek around the AT&T Oaks course resulted in a T9 in 2011 so he can clearly handle the course. After back to back top 10s to start February on the Tour, he’s slowed a bit to a T33 at Valspar and T43 at the Arnold Palmer. He's a past winner so I'm happy to include him in the top 10.
Brendan Steele [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #52
Steele’s trend line at the Valero is heading in the wrong direction. Since 2011 he’s finished: WIN, T4, T46, MC. That’s a troubling trend. However, his form is tough to ignore as he hasn't missed a cut in 10 tournaments this season.
Martin Kaymer [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #56
This is Kaymer’s first trek to San Antonio so we don’t have any history to go on. He’s not a standout in any one statistical category, but he’s an excellent golfer who finished 28th in all around ranking in 2014. I've bumped him down a bit this week due to his unfamiliarity with the course and lack of stand out statistical island to plant my flag on.