04/18/2016

We didn’t need the Visit San Antonio twitter page to inform us of this, but it was a nice reminder. This week, we head to Texas for the “Texas Swing” and the Valero Texas Open.

I said this last year, “The Valero Texas Open might be one of the most boring events on the PGA Tour. But hey, boring PGA Tour golf is still better than about 97% of things in my life, so let’s saddle up and ‘hook’ a couple of picks this week in the Longhorn State,” and I have to say, I haven’t moved off that statement.

The most exciting thing from the 2015 event may have been this, with Phil Mickelson’s 8-iron.

But hey, this is a fun stat:

Last Year’s Valero Top-10

valero texas open

Jimmy, the winner

Full 2016 Field at the Valero

Click here for a full field list of the guys pegging it up.

Past 5 Winners at the VTO

Forecast

Screenshot 2016-04-18 12.50.27

With rains throughout the beginning of the week, the course will soften, making it play longer. Players early in the week will be looking to hit more long irons into greens.

Also, looks like players who have past course experience will have an advantage on first time players who have a good chance of getting practice rounds stormed out.

The course features excellent modern drainage and should* have no problems with some of the water expected to fall, despite flooding warnings.

Course Overview: TPC San Antonio

Interestingly enough, this course (the AT&T Oaks) is a Greg Norman design with the help of Sergio Garcia. I can honestly say, before this week, I did not know that Sergio Garcia was in on course design and I’m not sure I have an opinion on the matter.

Part of me wonders if this all came about when Garcia used to date Norman’s daughter, before a break-up which apparently put Sergio Garcia on the heartbreak hotline. But anyways, none of this matters.

Playing at over 7,400 yards, this par-72 is a long, wind influenced golf course that is the epitome of Texas golf. With Bermuda greens, players will come from the Florida swing with some familiarity. With greens measuring to an average of 6,400 sq. feet, roughly the same size as the greens at Augusta National.

Combining their narrow fairways with nasty winds, long par-4s, thick rough and greens the size of Augusta’s, it’s no wonder this course challenges the pros.

Favor the guys who drive the ball really well this week.

Tour the course!

Never forget!

putting series

This Week’s Picks

Three from the Fairway (Contenders)

1. Matt Kuchar

1370123036000-6-1-13-matt-kuchar-leads-1306011813_4_3_rx404_c534x401

When the winds, the tough conditions and the narrow fairways are a source of proof, Matty Kooch finds his way into the hunt.

Coming off of 4 straight top-25s at this event and a few top-10s in the past few weeks, Kuchar is going to be a popular player this week–but for good reason. He had it going in Hilton Head as he looked to repeat at the RBC.

I’d go Kuchar this week.

2. Billy Horschel

{713E9B81-EFD4-47BB-B6A6-2318FB43BBB5}horschel_texas13_d3_cu_610

I’ve been on a bit of a Horschel kick, slating him to play well a few weeks ago at the Shell as well. But this week, I think Horschel is more of a slam dunk.

Despite facing adversity at Augusta, an event where he absolutely came in under the radar, Horschel finished with a very respectable 17th place finish. And when talking about his current play, Horschel has made the cut in 9 straight starts. The Gator has it going.

And at this event? Well, he’s a horse for the course!

His past three starts at the Valero have him locking two top-3 finishes. I’m putting Horschel in my holster this week.

3. Jason Kokrak

jason kokrak

Having worked his way inside the top-30 on the FedEx Cup, Kokrak will again, bolster his Tour Championship hopes with great play this week in San Antonio. Given the fact that his driving has always been a strength of his game, it’s going to serve him particularly well this week.

Kokrak in his past three starts here has an 11th, a 31st and a 15th place finish.

Last week at Hilton Head, Kokrak put himself in contention at a course which does not figure to match his game very well, given the nature of the tight, crafty play needed. Kokrak reeled back with the driver (averaging almost 20 yards less per drive last week) and kept it in play. He benefitted from it.

This week when the length is necessary, he’ll be back.

I like Kokrak to put together another solid week of golf in Texas.

More Contenders to Consider

  • Bonus sleeper, Bryce Molder: Top-25 twice in three years here. Top-10 last week in S.C.

putting series

One from the Rough (Sleepers)

Kevin Chappell

kevin chappell

Chappell, on the heels of some of the best ball striking on the PGA Tour, is working his way into consistent contention during his day job of slapping the ball around.

Two of Chappell’s past three starts have included top-10 finishes and two of his past 5 starts at the Valero have been top-15s.

Last week at the RBC, Chappell gained over a stroke with his putter and without a Saturday round of 75 would have been toward the top of the leaderboard challenging Grace.

Currently 20th in strokes gained tee-to-green on the PGA Tour, Chappell may be the guy right now to buy low in some of your fantasy events. I like him this week in Texas.

The Man With the Trophy

Chris Kirk

chris-kirk-usgolftv

He’s a player that, I’ve decided, is always going to enter PGA Tour events in stealth mode. A silent killer, Kirk is a deadly force when he finds his way into contention on courses he likes to play. He’s quietly got 4 wins on Tour.

A winner in Texas last year, Kirk played for the first time in 4 years at the Valero last year. Having not shown face in a Tour event at the TPC San Antonio, Kirk piled on a top-10 finish in the 2015 playing.

Armed with his new equipment deal at Parsons Xtreme golf, Kirk is 55th in tee-to-green so far this season and has top-25s in three of his past four starts.

Just have a good feeling about Kirk this week, that he’s going to channel his good play into great play this week in Texas.

We’ll see.