Expert Picks for Valero Texas Open
Traditionally held in May, this year's Texas Open has been moved to one of the more challenged spots on the PGA Tour calendar, occupying the week following the first major of the season (The Masters). In the past the advantage of this particular spot on the schedule might include the participation of some of the world's top international talent, taking use of the trip to the States to enjoy a prolonged stay on the Tour. This season it appears such benefits will not be felt by the Texas Open as the field is rather slim and includes very few of golf's jet-set crowd. However, this event is set to enjoy one of the best fields ever assembled for the TPC San Antonio. Originally listed as part of the Tour's Fall Series, this move to the early part of the year has tempted more than a few of the game's respected commodities to the links designed and built by former golf icon Greg Norman. This is a relatively young course (this event was originally hosted by the La Cantera Golf Club) and as such the fantasy owner will not enjoy the luxury of deep historical analysis to assist in making selections. Built in the midst of the Texas hills, Norman fought to maintain the lay of the land while constructing unique golf holes that will challenge the best golfers in the world. He did an outstanding job of utilizing the various changes in elevation that serve as the trademark of this area of the state while Texas oak trees (some of the biggest in the land) serve as the visual identity of the course, marking the Oaks Course as one of the more unique and challenging venues on the Tour. In general, we note the length of this course (over 7,500 yards) as one of the prominent features that jumps off the page, but in lieu of the various elevation changes, we find that length is more than manageable for the golfer who may struggle to achieve gratifying length with the driver. The greens are sizeable and forgiving, putting full focus on the confidence with middle irons. Past winners – including Eric Axley, Justin Leonard, Zach Johnson (a two-time winner) and Adam Scott – all own respectable length off the tee, but their efforts to pull victory at the Texas Open were earned with supreme efforts on the approach via confidence with irons followed by focused accuracy with the putter.
Geoff Ogilvy [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #157
Ogilvy may not own a ton of history on this particular track, but his work over the early weeks of this season has been as impressive as any start he has laid to a PGA Tour campaign. He was on point and in the mix at Augusta National last week and a similar effort will earn him a victory in San Antonio.
Adam Scott [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #14
Scott serves not only as the defending champ of the Texas Open, but he also happens to be one of several golfers we noted at The Masters last week. He's been playing at a high level, giving him an optimal sense of ability and confidence coming into this title defense.
Ryan Palmer [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #59
Palmer has become one of the most underrated commodities on the Tour for fantasy enthusiasts this season, consistently marked for surprising finishes against some of the best in the world. This week he works on a track he knows and appreciates and we expect his comfort will shine through.
J.B. Holmes [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #25
Holmes has long been known for his ability to go long off the tee, but the vast improvements showcased with the irons makes him one of the best candidates for fantasy employment this week. He's enjoyed low rounds on this course in the past and he's playing at a high level.
We anticipated a strong outing from Kim at The Masters last week and were left wanting more. While the results failed to meet hopes and expectations, his focus and desire no longer appear to be in question. He has the perfect skill set to go low at the TPC San Antonio.
Laird was once again worthy of respect last week, posting another surprisingly-strong outing at a course he has rarely enjoyed. His momentum alone earns a spot in our weekly top ten and this week's shallow field of options marks Laird as a premium target for the fantasy week.
Van Pelt possesses all of the traits we might seek in a top fantasy option for the Texas Open. He is native to the area, he knows this particular track, and he has proven capable of low scores on these links. The momentum was lacking, but he comes off a respectable week of work at The Masters and thus we are all in.
Jacobson enters as the first of several targets we've consistently noted as objects of desire in the past for the Texas Open and the change in schedule does nothing to hinder our desire to lean his way again this week. His history at this event is stellar.
Carl Pettersson [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #184 - Not Entered
Like Jacobson, we adore the body of work we find attached to Pettersson during his adventures in San Antonio. He has consistently pushed his game to a competitive edge at this event and we've seen him produce enough positive momentum this season to believe he can challenge again.
Leonard is a Texas native and has been persistent in efforts to chase victory at this event in front of his hometown fans over the years. He hasn't been as strong on the links of the TPC San Antonio, but he has been competitive; as one of few known Tour names in the field this week, we like his chances.
Brendon de Jonge [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #155
He is one of the younger duffers on the Tour, but early success in terms of an ability to enjoy a surprisingly consistent level of performance, no matter the venue, shocks. Fantasy owners understand why de Jonge is listed here. His resume over the past two seasons demands it.
Jimmy Walker [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #27
Walker has fallen off the early pace we noted a few short weeks ago when he first started appearing on our weekly rankings, but he has remained positive and this week he happens to own a bit of history (suggesting his early-season surge could be rejuvenated).