First Look: Valero Texas Open

THE TOURNAMENT

After competing for a pair of jackets the last two weeks the Tour will head to San Antonio, TX where they will look to add to their wardrobe with a pair of cowboy boots. Last year’s champion Charley Hoffman will look to join Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard as the only players to win this event in consecutive years. Hoffman has a tremendous track record in this tournament having finished outside the top 15 only once in his 11 appearances.

Joining Hoffman in the field will be eight others from the world’s top 50, last year’s runner-up Patrick Reed the highest among them. Also competing this weekend is Curtis Luck who will be making his first career start as a professional. He’ll look to join the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm who both brought home top four finishes in their professional debuts. The field this week is made up of 156 golfers with the top 70 and ties playing the weekend.

THE COURSE

This week the Tour will be faced with the tough task of trying to manage the Greg Norman designed AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. The 7,435 yard par-72 layout features difficult par-5s, most of which touching 600 yards. Only 12 par-5s on Tour had a scoring average above par last year and this course had two of them.

While the length alone provides plenty of challenge the fairways here are all very narrow as well. The field average for finding the fairway is around 56%. Shot-tracker will certainly show plenty of “shot to native area” this week as there is plenty of tough terrain to be found. Desert, brush, trees, and rocks are all awaiting stray shots from the tee box. Kevin Na famously made a 16 here on the par-4 9th after finding himself in the brush.

The greens are made up of Bermuda grass and are kept at around an 11 on the stimpmeter which is right around Tour average. While the greens don’t run fast they are difficult to hit with a field average around 57%. Although they’re average in size they feature heavy undulations and closely mown run-offs into collection areas, putting a premium on golfers who are able to get up and down.

THE STATS

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Scrambling
  • Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee

While the winners of this event have averaged 10 yards longer than the field over the last seven years, those who have remained accurate and avoided the massive amounts of trouble off the fairways have also found success. Of the top seven in SG:OTT here last year six finished inside the top 13.

Bogey Avoidance

Of the nine golfers that finished T4 or better in Bogey Avoidance at this tournament last year only one finished outside of the top 13, Zac Blair T25. The average winning score since the tournament moved to this venue has been just -10.9 making it vital to hold onto any strokes gained.

Scrambling

Since the tournament moved to this course in 2010 the winner’s average Scrambling percentage has been 70.4% vs the field average of just 56.4%. With just 57% of greens being found in regulation golfers who can get up and down to save par will separate themselves from the field.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Using SG:APP to further ride the idea that finding the green is difficult and those who can do so will have an edge on the competition. While creating more scoring opportunities it also enhances Bogey Avoidance as long as they’re an average putter. The top three in SG:APP here last year all finished inside the top 13.

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Be sure to check back Wednesday for the Weekend Warriors picks article.

You can also find Going for the Green on Tuesday’s over on FantasyDraft.

Follow me on twitter @GWBuffalo7

Josh Burkett

From Portland, Maine to Austin, TX in search of anything sports. First love was racing, spending my summers bouncing from track to track across the country. Lifelong New York Rangers, New England Patriots, and Boston Red Sox fan. Follow me on twitter @GWBuffalo7.

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