“You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas”
That quote can be attributed to Davey Crockett, but it may as well have come out of Kevin Na’s mouth.
You see, back in 2011, TPC San Antonio and the Valero Texas Open were the site of the highest score ever recorded on the PGA Tour: a 16 from Kevin Na. Here it is in all its glory:
That’s the first thing that comes to mind when most fans think of the Valero Texas Open, but of course there is more to it than that.
Playing host to five of the Top-30 golfers in the world this week, TPC San Antonio presents a rather simple look to those watching, but utilizes the natural vegetation areas and frequent high winds in the region to protect itself from low scores.
Last years champion Kevin Chappell returns to defend his inaugural Tour win this week. Kevin held off a final round 65 from US Open champ Brooks Koepka by draining an 8-footer on the final hole to win by one. His winning score of 12-under-par is right around where the champion usually is; every year since 2009 seeing the low-score somewhere between 8-under and 15-under par.
I mentioned the field having five of the world’s top 30 players in it, those would be:
Sergio Garcia (10th), Matt Kuchar (21st), Pat Perez (22nd), Charley Hoffman (26th), and Xander Schauffele (28th).
Other notables teeing it up this week: Ryan Moore, Luke List, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker, Ollie Schneiderjans, Si Woo Kim, and young University of Texas alum Beau Hossler.
It’s no major, but the field and course stack up pretty well overall. I’d put this tournament as your typical middle-of-the-pack Tour event, unless you’re from Texas. Even still, there are better events in the state of Texas, but I digress.
In terms of what to look for this week, the course is pretty long and bombers have fared well in the past. To go along with that, there are four par 5’s, multiple long par-3’s, and a majority of the key approach distances are 200 yards plus. Therefore, my key stats will be:
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (25%), Strokes Gained: Approach (20%), GIR Gained (15%), Proximity 200 Yards + (15%), Driving Distance (10%), Birdies or Better (10%), and Strokes Gained: Par-5’s (5%)
Here’s my top-ten for this week, spread out across the field (aka not just the “favourites”). As you can see, I’ve taken into account where they sit in my personal stats, their Cuts Made, Recent Strokes Gained Total, Recent Finishes, Strokes Gained in this event, Tournament History and whether or not they have ties to Texas.
In case that font is too small, here they are in MY order:
- Luke List
- Charley Hoffman
- Keith Mitchell
- Chesson Hadley
- Keegan Bradley
- Kevin Tway
- Abraham Ancer
- Ryan Palmer
- Beau Hossler
- Jamie Lovemark
*Full disclosure, I try to put my money where my mouth is, and I’ve placed bets on Luke List at +2500, Charley Hoffmann at +1800, Chesson Hadley at +4000, Beau Hossler at +4000 and Ryan Palmer at +5500. I’ll add one of the other guys later in the week if they’re near contention
For more details on my Hilton Head trip, why I hate Patrick Reed, Tiger’s Masters letdown, the PGA Tour considering legalized betting, The Golf Channel playing NHL Playoff Games, Fox announcing it will air 45+ hours of US Open Coverage, and this week’s Valero Texas Open, tune into Teeing Off below
That’s all, folks. Thanks for reading. Give me a follow @RJMcCullough