The PGA TOUR returns to the Lone Star State for the Valero Texas Open, with TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course awaiting. Charley Hoffman returns to defend his title.
While the roots of this event date back to 1922, the current venue has only been in play since 2010. TPC San Antonio stretches out to 7,435 yards and plays to a par of 72. It featured the standard lineup of four par 3s and par 5s to go with 10 par 4s. Three of the par 5 are longer than 590 yards, with two of those north of 600 yards. Perhaps it’s also no surprise that three of the par 3s are north of 200 yards.
Even with that as the case, this venue doesn’t necessarily favor bombers. In fact, it can be hard to figure out who actually has the edge here. There are a few potential reasons why that could be the case.
For starters, the field is among the weakest considering we have now entered the heart of the schedule. This is a natural break between the Masters and the buildup for THE PLAYERS. When the field is weak and the cream rises to the top, it becomes hard to figure out if it’s a certain statistical fit attributed to the course or just a lack of a suitable sample size of players.
Another reason that stats could be adjusted has to do with the elements. Wind can play a factor, which explains the prolonged success of a guy like Charley Hoffman here.
The last reason could be the course itself. When par 5s are extremely long, both extremely long players and those with great wedge games benefit. Guys with just above-average length, but average or poor wedge games, are neutralized on par 5s.
No matter how you slice it and dice it, there are several guys with extremely strong resumes here that must be considered. After that, it’s a bit more of a dice throw than usual. Class and current form are certainly worth scrutiny.
Hold on tight!
1. Charley Hoffman – It’s almost never a good idea to expect a guy to go back-to-back. While that’s fair in this case as well, Hoffman’s record is incredible here. It goes T13-T2-T13-T3-T11-T11-Win. It doesn’t take the memory of an elephant to recall how well he played at Augusta National, so current form is solid as well.
2. Billy Horschel – Another guy that’s found the Oaks Course to his liking, Horschel is 5-for-6 with three top 4s including 3-T4 in his last two. Performed well on the Florida Swing, but has faded a bit in his last two outings.
3. Matt Kuchar – He’s teasing us with backdoor finishes right now. He stole a top 10 with a hot final round at the Masters. Rather than parlay that into a big week at the RBC Heritage, he hovered around the cut line and then went low in the final round again for a strong finish. He’s 5-for-5 with four top 25s and a T4 in 2014 at this venue.
4. Jimmy Walker – A bit feast-or-famine in his home game, Walker has a win and a T3 to go with three missed cuts spread across seven appearances at this venue. He missed the cut last year. His upside is extremely attractive, but the risk is real.
5. Kevin Chappell – After underperforming for most of the season, Chappell struck proverbial gold with a T7 at the Masters. Good timing to heat up, as he tied for fourth here last year after a T2 in 2011. Still looking for his first PGA TOUR win, and this would be as good of an opportunity as any.