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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Valero Texas Open - Preview

While the conclusion of the Shell Houston Open normally means it's time to turn our attention to Augusta National, a schedule quirk has the Valero Texas Open as next on the docket. Because of that, the entire dynamic of the VTO has changed. The top of the field is much stronger than we are used to seeing. How they factor remains to be seen, but we can't ignore that the cream could rise to the top. 

This will be the fourth year this event is contested at TPC San Antonio. The course is a par 72, expected to play 7,522 yards.  While the course isn't even close to being one of the more memorable ones on TOUR, perhaps the most lasting memory is the 16 Kevin Na took on the par-4 ninth hole in 2011. It brings to light the native areas in play. In addition to that, it sports rather tight fairways and deep bunkers. 

When looking at the stats from 2012, despite the length of the course driving distance has very little to do with the outcome of the tournament. When Ben Curtis won in 2012, he led the week in GIR, was second in driving accuracy and third in strokes gained-putting. If there is a statistical lean to be found, and it's not clear-cut at all, it is to favor accuracy and putting. 

Here's a look at the winners and runner-ups from the last three VTOs (only ones at TPC San Antonio)
  • 2010 - Adam Scott (14-under), Fredrik Jacobson (13-under)
  • 2011 - Brendan Steele (8-under), Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman (7-under)
  • 2012 - Ben Curtis (9-under), Matt Every and John Huh (7-under)
In just this brief list, several things stand out.
  • Fredrik Jacobson is a perfect example of someone who can be statistically hard to pin down. We know he's a scrambler, and a potentially strong putter.
  • Adam Scott is an elite player. That puts us on notice that we can't ignore the elite players teeing it up this week for the sole purpose of Masters prep.
  • John Huh screams accuracy.
  • Kevin Chappell and Matt Every are under-30 collegiate stars that showed up here, as was Brendan Steele. Cameron Tringale is in excellent form and has a great record here as well.
The decisions this week will come down to weighing guys with great course history and solid form like Steele and Tringale versus elite players who are making their first starts at TPC San Antonio with very obvious ulterior motives like Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel. 

We will weigh the options and break it down in our power rankings tomorrow.

Happy research!

1 comment:

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