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Monday, April 1, 2013

Valero Texas Open - Power Rankings

The deeper I dig into my Valero Texas Open research, the more convinced I become that this will be one of those weeks that proves pivotal in deciding some season-long fantasy games. Just look at the three winners since the tournament came to TPC San Antonio in 2010. Sure, Adam Scott is a threat to win any week but Brendan Steele and Ben Curtis weren't on many radars when they won.

While Scott isn’t playing this week, there are some “Adam Scott options” on the table. Look no further than guys like Charl Schwartzel, Jim Fury, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter to name a few studs making final preparations for Augusta National. Which leads to another topic…….I’m not going to ask a dumb question like “are these guys really trying to win,” because of course they are. At least as much as a person is always trying to execute to their best on the driving range before a match.  The obvious prize for them isn’t this week, but that hasn’t stopped guys like Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson from accidentally peaking a week too soon before majors the last few years.

Because statistics don’t give us an obvious answer of how to lean this week, I’m relying heavily on form and course history. As I said yesterday, it’s probably better to be accurate than long. It also doesn't hurt to be a good putter, but that’s the case every week. One thing I did notice is that the par 5s aren't especially inviting compared to most weeks, putting a premium on par 4 scoring.

Here’s the jumbled up formula that is this week’s Dandy Dozen:

  1. Fredrik Jacobson – He’s the perfect match of form and course history, with a touch of pedigree, finishing runner-up in 2010 and then T5 and T18 in his subsequent starts. He’s also been solid all season, tying for 16th at Doral in his last start. If there is a known commodity in the field, it’s him. I've already burned a one-and-done on him, but I may very well use him in my two-and-done.
  2. Brendan Steele – I promised myself last year that when he backed up his win in 2011 at TPC San Antonio with a T4 in 2012 I would not ignore him this season no matter what.  He ranks inside the top 80 in driving accuracy, GIR and SGP and he’s been in good enough form not to red flag him. He comes off a T38 at the Shell Houston Open on a course that really doesn't bear much resemblance to this week’s venue. One of three I’m considering for my one-and-done (OAD).
  3. Cameron Tringale – He’s coming off a hot March and contended in Houston last week before fading a bit in the final round. He’s never finished outside the top 30 in three trips to TPC San Antonio with a T5 and T8 in his last two stops. His match of form and history also aligns with a top-55 ranking in driving accuracy, GIR and SGP. Another worthy OAD option.
  4. Charley Hoffman – It’s always a bit scary for me to endorse Hoffman, and especially this high, but if there is ever a time it’s now. He enters off a T20 at the SHO and has two T13s and a T2 in three trips to TPC San Antonio. If you’re like me, he’s burned you more than once over the years. Invest with caution because of that, but I’m considering him as my third OAD option.
  5. Ian Poulter – He’s never played here, but been a factor on a consistent basis in 2013. He’s top 40 in driving accuracy and SGP and often reminds me a bit of Jacobson. Given the scores here don’t normally go that low, he could scrap out a nice finish.
  6. Matt Kuchar – Just like it never feels comfortable to throw Hoffman into the top five, it almost always feels safe to throw Kuch in the top 10. He tied for 13th here last year and comes in off a T14 at Tampa Bay in his last start. Not bad to have on the Yahoo! bench.
  7. Rory McIlroy – I worry about his driving accuracy this week, but it’s just a matter of time before it all clicks. He mentioned the need to work on his course management, and this might actually be a perfect test for that.
  8. Kevin Chappell – Looked like he might win the SHO last week for a bit, but eventually settled for a T6. He was a runner-up here in 2011, so we know he can play this course. His erratic nature makes it hard to bump him much higher, but all other things considered he can’t be dropped much lower.
  9. Charl Schwartzel – Is he getting reps, or is he a factor? I don’t know. Nothing would surprise me this week, but I’ll go ahead and warn you not to be thrown off his scent for the Masters if he doesn't play particularly well this week.
  10. XXXXKevin StreelmanXXXX – He’s probably on a decline since his Tampa Bay win and API T21, but a week off may be exactly what he needs. Due to top 15s twice at TPC San Antonio and a stat sheet that seems a perfect fit, don’t write him off.. (Not in the field. Not sure if this was an original oversight or a late W/D. Either way, strike two for me!)
  11. Bud Cauley – I actually thought Cauley was going to be the guy that did what Billy Horschel did in the final round last week, but instead he faded a bit. Still, his T16 was his season’s best and he returns to a venue where he tied for 18th last year. He could be breaking out of his sophomore slump.
  12. Billy Horschel – His course history is terrible here. He’s made two cuts, but nothing better than a T74. Mentioned on Talk of the TOUR on PGA Radio today that he liked TPC San Antonio, so not sure what gives there. We’ll trust his form will overcome his course history to a degree. It will be a learning experience for us to see if he can quickly come off the success of a T2 and build on that, or if he falls off for a brief period of time.

Next 5: Bryce Molder, Jimmy Walker, Jim Furyk, Brendon de Jonge and Justin Leonard.

Deep sleeper – If you’re looking for this week’s Jordan Spieth or Scott Brown, keep an eye on D.J. Trahan. While he doesn't have enough rounds to qualify officially, he would rank inside the top 35 in DA, GIR and SGP and is coming off a T10 on the Web.com Tour in Louisiana two weeks ago. Brown and Spieth used similar Web.com success to springboard them into Puerto Rico. The two-time TOUR winner has never played at TPC San Antonio.

Check back tomorrow for our weekly trip to fantasy land!

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