Valero Texas Open Preview

04-18-17

Charley Hoffman defends his title this week at The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Since moving here in 2010 nobody has successfully defended or won multiple titles.

 

Valero Texas Open

 

TPC San Antonio

Oaks Course

San Antonio, Texas

 

Oaks Course

 

Yards: 7,435 per the official scorecard

Par: 72 (36-36)

Greens: Champions Bermudagrass over-seeded with Velvet bent plus Poa trivialis; 6,400 square feet on average

Stimpmeter: 11.5′

Rough: Bermuda and Rye at 2″; native areas

Bunkers: 54

Water Hazards: 2

Course Architect(s): Greg Norman (2009) with player-consultant Sergio Garcia.

Purse: $6.2 million ($1.116 winner; 500 FedExCup points)

Defending Champion:  Charley Hoffman defeated Patrick Reed by a shot to claim the pair of cowboy boots given to the winner.

 

Notes:

  • 156 players; stroke play; top 70 and ties play the weekend.
  • 87th edition all played in San Antonio, third longest running event on Tour behind the BMW Championships (longest) and RBC Canadian Open.

 

 

2016-17 Winners

 

Frys.com: Brendan Steele

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

 

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

 

The Particulars:

 

The Oaks Course plays a very sturdy 7,435 and was designed by a pair of ball-strikers as Greg Norman used the help from 2017 Masters champ Sergio Garcia.

Tight driving holes will test patience off the tee but the two superb iron players also gave sizeable targets to hit if fairways were missed.

At 6,400 square feet on average, the Champion Bermudagrass greens will be receptive to most shots, including recovery shots, as only two of the greens are forced carries.

With the rough only playing at two inches, it’s not impossible to recover either from errant shots.

The rustic bunkering and tiered green complexes will reward those who spent the least amount of time in the wrong places.

With four par fives rookie gamers might assume that this is a week to get low yo. The pros will remind you that these par fives annually are some of the toughest on Tour and those who can take advantage will be rewarded.

Remember, 14-under-par (twice) is the lowest it’s been taken here, that’s it, because of those tough par fives and Mother Nature.

There wasn’t a ton of wind last year and the cut was even par with 14, bogey-free rounds.

In contrast, when the wind blew in 2015, the cut was six-over-par and there were three, bogey-free rounds.

 

 

Previous Champions

 

2016: Charley Hoffman; -12

2015: Jimmy Walker; -11

2014: Steven Bowditch; -8#

2013: Martin Laird; -14

2012: Ben Curtis; -9

2011: Brendan Steele; -8

2010: Adam Scott; -14#

 

*playoff

# not playing this week

 

Gamers, this tournament moved to the Oaks Course in 2010 so any history in the event prior is just that, history. Not useful history, but history nonetheless.

 

Course Ratings:

2016: 17th-most difficult; +0.206 over par;

2015: 2nd-most difficult of ANY tournaments; +2.521 over par;

2014: 8th-most difficult; +1.286;

2013: 15th-most difficult; +.740;

2012: 4th-most difficult; +1.989 (hardest non-major on TOUR);

2011: 7th-most difficult; +1.665 (hardest par 72 on TOUR);

2010: 17th-most difficult; +.353;

 

Persons of Interest:

The list of winners here all have proven track records on big, mean courses and have had handled windy conditions.

Only one of the winners since the move here in 2010 that sticks out as a “short” player is Ben Curtis so I’m leaning on brawn again this week, especially with the forecast for the weekend below.

With par being a decent score this week, I’m not ruling out guys who can get it up-and-down either. Grinding out two-putt pars won’t hurt especially on tiered greens.

 

Weather:

 

San Antonio averages barely two inches of rain in April and hasn’t even reached an inch for the month as of Tuesday.

Warm Thursday and Friday before a chance of morning showers Saturday will keep the temperatures in the 70’s for the final two rounds.

The wind this week will push me towards the bigger hitters as we won’t see the prevailing winds that we saw last week on Hilton Head Island. This course should play longer into the wind and that’s the forecast for the weekend. Think of it as the reverse Masters!

 

 

 

Facts and Figures:

 

  • Tournament record: 274 Adam Scott (2011) and Martin Laird (2012).
  • Course record: Laird (2013) and Matt Every (2012), 63.
  • Defending champions: None.
  • Multiple winners since 2010: None.
  • Maiden Tour victory: Steele, Bowditch.
  • First time at event: Steele, Curtis.
  • 2016 low round: 64, Steele.
  • 2016 Rookies of note: T-4, Martin Piller (Texan, not entered this year); T-9, Tom Hoge (TCU grad) and Harold Varner, III; T-21 Michael Kim and Nick Taylor.
  • There has never been a playoff to decide the winner.
  • In 2015 Jimmy Walker (WIN) and Jordan Spieth (2nd) were the only two to post all four rounds under par.
  • Last year there were only four players to do the same.
  • Scott, Laird, Hoffman and Every all tend to play well at Bay Hill… #Angle

 

The Field

 

Favorites

in order of preference for this week and this tournament

 

Charley Hoffman: He’s played this event 11 times and finished T-13 or better in 10 of them. This tells me that he’s extremely comfortable in San Antonio and his 43-under-par total since the move to the Oaks course confirms that suspicion. His MC last week just gave him a few extra days to defend his title this week.

Jimmy Walker: Home game this week for the Boerne resident is probably exactly what the doctor ordered. The reigning PGA champion has been dealing with mononucleosis this spring and a few nights of not running around should help him. The 2015 champ made 22 birdies in less-than-ideal conditions that year and also was T-3 in 2010.

Branden Grace: Every year in the last three he’s figured more and more out around this joint. He made the cut but MDF in 2014. In 2015 he posted his first two red numbers to finish T-30. Last year he posted all four at par or better including his two best, 69 on Saturday and 67 on Sunday for T-9. He’s rounding into form as well after T-27 at Augusta and T-11 last week in his defense at Harbour Town didn’t include any rounds above par.

Brendan Steele: The 2011 champ has added T-4, T-8 and T-13 in the following five years to reinforce his love for San Antonio. He kicked off the new season with his first win since being here in 2011 and hasn’t MC. The quintessential TOAD player this week to go with Hoffman or Walker.

Kevin Chappell: If a golfer finished T-7 at the Masters and we don’t see one shot, did he really finish at all? He closed here with 68 last year for his second top four finish in six tries. He was runner up to Steele in 2011 but is still looking for his first win.

Brooks Koepka: The signs of life at WGC-Match Play weren’t false positive as evidenced by his T-11 at Augusta. When he has it going well he’s bombing it and making putts, a la Jimmy Walker. I’m on board this week as whatever he figured out in Austin has stuck.

Matt Kuchar: Back-to-back magical Sundays have seen Kuchar rescue T-4 at the Masters (67) and T-11 last week at HTGL (64). If you can’t beat him, join him! He’s never MC in five tries over the last five years and his T-42 last year is the only finish outside T-22. He always keeps it in play and has no problem making pars with his short game.

Ryan Palmer: I’m moving him up this week because he found his best finish since last September and chalked up rounds of 67, 68 and 68 last week T-11 at Harbour Town. The Texan has back-to-back top 10’s here the last two years and has another from 2010. He’s only MC once in seven tries on the Oaks course and has eight rounds in the 60’s.

Adam Hadwin: He’s picked off 12 weekends from 13 tries and that includes his first win on Tour. Add in the fact that he’s added three other top 10’s and a total of seven top 25’s, I’m not sure why anybody would leave him out. He’s extremely steady through the bag and his game translates everywhere.

Luke Donald: I learned my lesson last week and I shalln’t be compounding my error. Donald returned to this event last year, after another big finish at Harbour Town, and was nine-under-par after three rounds. His 74 on Sunday knocked him out of the top 10 but if his scalding short game follows him again this week, he should find his way back in.

Ollie Schniederjans: I’m having a bit of the Kool Aid here and I’m fine with it. If Steele and Curtis can win in their first time on this track, I’m having no problem believing Schniederjans can either. He’s top 10’d it at Torrey Pines, Riviera and Harbour Town and it’s because he racks up GIR.

Ryan Moore: He’ll spend most of the week playing from the middle of the fairway and that should give him plenty of chances to hit GIR. His T-9 at Augusta last time out suggests he’s rounding into form and able to knock it around in the wind.

Daniel Summerhays: His streak of three consecutive top 10’s here was broken up by T-13 last year. He made the cut at his first Masters and his 66 at HTGL was his lowest round in seven events.

Billy Horschel: Brand new baby is here and kid No. 2 shouldn’t change him much. His landing spot his as soft as they come as he’s posted ONE round above par in the last four years at that was 81 to MC in 2014. The other three have resulted in T-3, third and T-4. Sign me up.

Zach Johnson: He sits currently No. 56 in the OWGR. As Justin Ray from Golf Channel pointed out, the last time he was ranked this low he won the 2007 Masters. He won on the old course in back-to-back years. He’s won Colonial twice and at the Old Course so I’d suggest a bit of wind isn’t going to bother him.

 

Next Tier

Just missed; no particular order of preference

 

Martin Laird: The 2013 champ tied the course record with an impossible 63 on Sunday that year. Strangely he didn’t tee it up here last season after MC and T-50 in the two years following his win. It’s even stranger when you see he was T-9 in 2011. Ok, he made the cut last week on Hilton Head on a course where he’s never had any luck so I’m going to try and catch him on the up this week. He’s already posted three top 10’s in 2017 so I’m not stretching too much here.

Graeme McDowell: With only one finish outside the top 30 and only one MC, he’s quietly going about his business. Gamers would prefer some noise inside the top 10 but there’s nothing wrong with him in games with deep rosters.

Ian Poulter: We’ll see how the Englishman handles the pressure to keep his card. He needs around T-35-ish this week to meet the terms of his MME. He wasn’t pleased with his putting last week, especially on Sunday, so I’d expect that to straighten out and his record with the pressure on is quite decent.

J.T. Poston: He’s made seven cuts on the bounce and should be refreshed after two weeks off.

Kevin Streelman: He’s posted eight of 12 rounds in red figures and hasn’t MC here. Now, about that putter…

Harold Varner, III: He prefers a course where he can swing driver and feast on par fives and this week qualifies. He rolled in 18 birdies last year to peg T-9 and he enters the week with four straight checks cashed.

Jhonattan Vegas: His only MC in his last 12 worldwide was at the Masters so that’s not a big deal. The Texas grad has been excellent tee-to-green this season but its how many he makes on the greens that keeps him down here.

Soren Kjeldsen: Showed off his chops in the wind at the Masters and WGC-Match Play up the street in Austin. He led the Masters in fairways so he’ll have chances again this week on less severe greens.

Chris Kirk: Just like Garcia in a major, if you keep sticking him in each week you can say “I told you so” to all of your friends who could care less about your fantasy golf team when he finally hits the top 20. His T-8 in 2015 and T-13 last year provides the Daniel Summerhays False Hope of the Week Award.

J.J. Spaun: I’m trying to hide him down here. He only made one bogey on the weekend on Hilton Head to finish T-6 last week. He can smash it off the tee and is known as an excellent putter.

Curtis Luck: The Aussie is no longer an amateur and will make his pro debut after making the cut at Augusta. Australians, wind, all that, should have him ready to go.

Luke List: He might get lost after his MC on tight HTGL but he’ll enjoy swinging driver again this week. Of his eight rounds here he’s posted four in red numbers from two visits.

 

 

Off the Beaten Path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash.

 

Nick Taylor: He’s rattled off five of his last six on Tour including T-22 last week. He was T-21 here last year so let’s have some trends converge, eh?

Cameron Tringale: He’s collected in five of six tries here with a pair of top 10’s in his first two visits. He’s also played four of his last five on Tour that includes T-8 at Riviera, another “not easy” track.

Tyrone van Aswegen: I prefer guys who are rolling along as you can tell. I prefer to not break average players out of slumps but rather ride their coat tails when hot. He’s on a run of six in a row and eight of nine.

Tom Hoge: He finished T-9 here last year and has quietly made his last three cuts on Tour. The former Horned Frog posted T-10 at a long, windy Cocoa Beach track on Puerto Rico last month.

Andrew Loupe: If you want to stretch, he finished T-10 in Houston and was T-4 here in 2014.

Bud Cauley: He racked up his second top 10 in nine events last week with T-9 at HTGL. He was T-4 last spring at TPC Four Season in Dallas.

Zac Blair: He doesn’t hit it very far but he put three rounds at 70 or better last year for T-25. He can putt it and the above average greens should help him find a few chances.

Peter Malnati: He rolled in here last year on a streak of seven MC in a row before posting three rounds in the red for T-13. Last week he broke a streak of three in a row with T-44 that included an ace.

John Peterson: His Las Vegas bender didn’t help him last week. He’s never missed in three tries and was T-11 in his last trip in 2015. Hush.

Justin Leonard: He never plays anymore so he must really like it here. He’s playing the event for the 20th time and has only one MC since the switch in 2010.

Bryce Molder: T-42 or better in four of the last five years and he’s avoided the trunk slam in his last three on Tour.

Martin Flores: He rattled off T-51, T-24, T-10 and T-16 before MC in 2015 in his last visit. His last two starts on Tour have been T-10 and MC.

Scott Piercy: First time 64. Second time 65. Third time 70. No MC’s in three tries.

David Hearn: In five trips he has three top 25’s and two MC. #GetLucky. The trend says MC in the every-other-year pattern.

 

Fades:

Patrick Reed: One caveat here is that I wouldn’t lead with him but if he’s at a proper price or falls to you he’s worth taking the chance. He’s not worth taking the chance leading the line based on his recent form.

Tony Finau: His only trip was 2015 where he posted 79-69-76-77.

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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