Valero Texas Open Recap

04-24-17

 

I hate writing this column.

You hate reading this column.

This fella don’t care as he picked up his first win in 180 PGA Tour starts at The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio at the JW Marriott.

The only phrase used more this week than “Chappell Show” for a headline on Sunday was “I told you so” from most experts.

Chappell had knocked on the door so many times over the last few years everybody, rightfully so, thought this would be the outcome sooner than later.

I can’t remember which pro tweeted it but one of them picked Chappell at the Masters.

Colt Knost picked him this week on Morning Drive.

Chappell went toe-to-toe with Jason Day last year at Bay Hill and THE PLAYERS and was part of a three-man playoff at The Tour Championship to close out last season.

This season, he has been fantasy ice cold until the calendar rolled over to April.

Before his T-7 at Augusta his best finish from 11 events was just T-35 in Shanghai back in November.

The light went on at Augusta and those who bought in this week were completely rewarded.

I had Chappell in Yahoo!, PGA Tour Fantasy and my DraftKings line up.

You wanna guess which one I missed?

Yep, OAD.

Because I suck at OAD.

But I did have him listed, along with solo second Brooks Koepka, among the choices.

 

Tournament Hindsight

Chappell led the tournament with 22 birdies and that’s not bad for a guy who entered the week No. 142 on Tour in birdies and No. 198 in SGP.

Chappell makes his money tee-to-green as he finished second this week in that stat along with finishing second in SGATG. He was also fourth in SGOTT so his ball-striking was on point.

He barely finished in the top half in fairways (T-35) but he was third GIR as he pegged 52 of 72 in the Texas breeze.

The wind played a big part, as usual, this year and Saturday’s scores suffered greatly. Chappell’s 71 was enough to give him the 54-hole lead outright. The wind was so tough on Saturday that only Texan Ryan Palmer (68) and Camilo Villegas (69) broke 70.

There were only four players who posted all four rounds of par-or-better for the week.

The winning total of 276 missed the tournament record by two shots but he’s the third consecutive winner here to post double-digits-under-par.

The course record of 63 was safe as three players only found 65 for the low round of the week.

Charley Hoffman and his excellent record here couldn’t become the first player to defend his title at TPC San Antonio. Hoffman’s T-40 killed every gamer in every format and this was his first finish outside of the top 13 at this event, ever.

Chappell joins Brendan Steele (2011) and Steven Bowditch (2014) as the only first-time Tour winners since the move from LaCantera in 2010. It’s obvious he’s enjoyed this layout as he finished second to Steele in 2011 and was T-4 here last year.

For the seventh year in a row a playoff would not be necessary as the volatility coming down the stretch entices risk-reward. And if it’s windy, it’s difficult to play catch-up.

The next big question for Chappell, or any first-time winner for that matter, is how he’s going to react moving forward. He’s jumped from No. 41 to No. 23 in the OWGR world rankings and his win gets him into just about everything the rest of the year. Pro gamers will remind you that he’s posted a pair of top three U.S. Open finishes since 2010 but I’ll need to see some more putts fall before I’m connecting those dots just yet.

 

The Best of the Rest

Brooks Koepka (2nd): If you’re not a believer now after his return to form at WGC-Match Play (T-9), I’m not sure what other conclusions you’re drawing after T-11 at Augusta and solo second this week. He played the weekend in a whopping nine-under-par with rounds of 70-65. He missed out on a playoff by a shot. His 21 birdies were one less than the winner’s totall and he matched Chappell with just eight bogeys. He led the field in GIR and was also first SGTTG. Also like Chappell, he has no problem eating up big tracks. Quietly, he’s at almost $2 million in earnings for the season and sits No. 18 in the FEC race.

Kevin Tway (T-3): His T-3 is his best start in his last 35 Tour starts. In fact, it’s his only top 25 during that stretch. He’s now rattled off eight rounds in a row of par-or-better and interestingly enough they both happened at two events with prevalent windy (PRO, Valero). This was only his fourth weekend in 12 events this year but I have no problem jumping on a scalded dog. Get ’em while they’re hot, I say.

Tony Finau (T-3): He had great ball-striking numbers plus he was T-1 in PPGIR. Oh, and he’s proper long as well. Here’s how weird earnings can be on Tour: Koepka has three top 10’s and almost $2 million in cash on the year. Finau has three top fives and a T-9 and has $1.35 million. He’s eight from 10 in 2017 and has cashed in his last four. All aboard!

Aaron Baddeley (5th): His week was nearly perfect in the stats cats and he deserves full marks for his finish with a triple and double on the card. His wildness off the tee is legendary but he still found T-6 GIR and led the field in SGATG. Baddeley enjoys San Antonio as he has never missed in six tries and five of those have been T-29 or better. #CourseHorse.

Sung Kang (T-6): A super week putting and a super week ball-striking sees Kang rack up his third consecutive finish of T-11 or better. There’s a reason they play all 72 and his birdies on the final three holes moved him into to the top 10. He’s put 15 of his last 16 rounds at par or better and is 40-under-par during that stretch.

Cameron Smith (T-6): He quietly ran out 12 weekends from 15 tries this season but T-6 this week is the best of the bunch. His first Tour event he finished T-5 at CIMB and was also T-4 at Chambers Bay, both in 2015. With his card all but locked up for next year, let’s see if he can take up a notch.

Brian Gay (T-6): Back-to-back T-6’s this week and last have seen Gay cover the terms of his MME in cash so he’s good to go for the rest of the year. This is Gay’s second top 10 and third top 25 in six starts in San Antonio. Not bad for a short, straight hitter who can really putt and who is no longer injured.

Ryan Palmer (T-6): He’s Charley Hoffman-Lite here with T-6, T-4 and T-6 in his last three. He’s finished T-11 and T-6 the last two weeks both with a round over par so he’s more than close. He’ll play with Jordan Spieth at Zurich because his caddy beat the Masters and U.S. Open champ at a friendly at Colonial recently. Don’t forget, Palmer is a member there as well.

Camilo Villegas (T-10): He’s teed it 10 times since his P-2 on Sea Island and has seven MC’s. He posted five in a row before T-10 this week. It was a nifty short game this week that stuck top 10 money in his pocket.#AllOrNothing.

Bud Cauley (T-10): He led after 18 holes at Harbour Town. He led after 36 holes this week. I’d suggest he and Justin Thomas will lead after 54 holes at Zurich this coming weekend and then he’ll win at Wells Fargo. Got it?

Branden Grace (T-10): He’s never missed in four tries over the last four years and the last two have been top 10’s. He hit the top 10 with two rounds over par as well. Just write him down for the RBC-VTO double annually and you’ll be in fat city.

 

What Happened to the Chalk??

Charley Hoffman (T-40): After his run at the Masters he didn’t fire at either Harbour Town or, even more surprisingly, Valero, two places where he’s had plenty of success. He’s not getting any younger (40) either.

Jimmy Walker (T-13): First it was mono and now it’s Lyme Disease but whatever it is doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. His T-18 at the Masters was followed up with three rounds in the 60’s this week for another very solid showing.

Branden Grace (T-10): See above.

Brendan Steele (T-62): Sitting just five shots off the lead entering the weekend, the 2011 champ fired 78-76 to fall out of the running. This marks the fourth consecutive VTO where he hasn’t broken par on the weekend. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Kevin Chappell (WIN): See above.

Brooks Koepka (2nd): See above.

Matt Kuchar (T-41): The third time was not a charm as his very good 71 wasn’t good enough for his third back-door top 10 in as many events. It’s back-to-back years for worst finishes at VTO for Kuchar. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ryan Palmer (T-6): See above.

Adam Hadwin (T-72): 82-74 weekend. I’m over it and I bet he is too.

Luke Donald (MC): I fade him, he finishes second. I list him, he MC. #RBCOnly.

Ollie Schniederjans (T-18): This was his best result in four tries backing up a top 10. Another week closer to figuring it all out, hat or no hat. I’m on board.

Ryan Moore (T-18): Steady, just as expected after T-9 at the Masters.

Daniel Summerhays (T-58): The windy weekend saw him post 76-74 and breaking a four-year run of T-13 or better. Chappell was the only course horse to run this week!

Billy Horschel (MC): T-3, MC, third, T-4 and MC. Now, tell me about the Nappy Factor again…#FakeNews.

Zach Johnson (MC): His wonderfully inconsistent play consistently continues. He has ONE round under par in his last 12 stroke-play events. Uno. I’m OUTTO.

 

I See You

Si Woo Kim (T-22): When he’s healthy, he can really play and three of four rounds at par or better suggests he’s trending towards healthy again.

Bob Estes (T-27): He sat one shot off the lead entering the weekend before 75-75 knocked him back. The analogy would be Fred Couples at the Masters.

John Vegas (T-34): Just keeps on keepin’ on and is finding a way to constantly put the ball in the hole regardless of his putting stats.

Ian Poulter (MC): He didn’t take his chance at Harbour Town and didn’t play well enough for a chance this week. He no longer has status on Tour but can receive sponsor’s exemptions and will play out of the Nos. 126-150 category so it’s not all dire.

 

Stay Tuned:

Tomorrow I’ll have my preview for the Valero Texas Open.

Wednesday I’ll have all my picks for specific fantasy formats and the results of last week’s selections.

Check @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more details.

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