Power Rankings: Valero Texas Opentext sizeApril 01, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
When a new golf course is introduced on the PGA TOUR, it's first played like a child unwrapping the biggest present underneath the Christmas tree. Experiences may vary. Sometimes, just as the holidays conclude and school resumes, the novelty of a new track fades.
Now in its fourth year hosting the Valero Texas Open, the par-72 AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is maturing. It's no longer identical to the fierce test that averaged 73.989 strokes last year.
For starters, the green at the 12th hole received a facelift. It's flatter, which should appease the field of 156 and offer a greater number of potential hole locations. Greens at the first, fourth and 10th holes also underwent renovation. Another noticeable change is that many of the runoff areas around greens are gone. This includes the complex shared by the second and seventh holes. In its place is taller grass around the collar, thus preventing balls from plunging into what were once closely mown chipping areas.
The fairways at Nos. 1 and 4 were also widened in response to player feedback. The numbers also support the move. Since 2010, the par-4 first hole has ranked first, second and third, respectively, in highest scoring average among all opening holes on the PGA TOUR. It's 4.289 clip last year was the lowest in its brief history. Conversely, the par-4 fourth has slowly climbed in scoring average, topping out at 4.328 in 2012.
The rough is also down to no more than two inches this year; it used to be cut at three inches. This is partially due to the fact that the tournament is being played in early April for the first time and some grass remains dormant. That should help allows those hitting from those lies a greater chance of holding greens that average 6,400 square feet.
The aggregate impact of the adjustments across the property should result in more favorable course splits. The golfers know just how punishing TPC San Antonio plays, and there really is no relief. Last year, it ranked ninth in fairways hit (53.11 percent), fourth in greens in regulation (55.26 percent), fourth in proximity to the hole (39 feet, 3 inches) and 14th in scrambling (54.51 percent). Its set of four pars 5s (Nos. 2, 8, 14 and 18) averaged 4.96, highest among all non-majors for the second consecutive year. The par 3s ranked T7 at 3.14 while the par 4s finished T6 at 4.16.
Unlike the last two weeks, there is no long-range expectation for inclement weather during the tournament. The wind will blow as it always does and steadily rising temperatures will max out in the mid-80s.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among all three winners at TPC San Antonio, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: Valero Texas Open Rank Player Comment Matt KUCHAR Loves tight tracks like TPC San Antonio. In his only appearance last year, tied for 13th, ranking T8 in greens in regulation for the week. Last competed at Copperhead where he placed T14. Currently 10th on TOUR in bogey avoidance. Fredrik JACOBSON Arrives in San Antonio with converging positive trends. He has an active streak of five consecutive top 25s; he qualified for the Masters over the weekend; and in three starts at this event, he's finished second, T5 and T18. Charl SCHWARTZEL First-timer in San Antonio. No worse than a pair of T16s in his last 11 stroke-play starts worldwide. Tied for fourth two weeks ago in Malaysia. He'd lead the TOUR in adjusted scoring if he logged enough rounds to qualify. Billy HORSCHEL He's 2-for-2 at TPC San Antonio but has averaged 75.125 in his eight rounds. Never mind that. He leads the TOUR with 20 consecutive cuts made. En route to a T2 in Houston last week, led the field in strokes gained-putting and par breakers. Cameron TRINGALE His T16 in Houston last week was his fourth top 25 on the season, all coming in his last six starts. Led the field at Redstone in greens in regulation and ranked T8 in scrambling. He's 3-for-3 at TPC San Antonio with two top 10s. Jimmy WALKER Home game. After a T3 in the inaugural edition at TPC San Antonio in 2010, he's 0-for-2 and hasn't broken 74 in four rounds. Wild week in Houston resulted in a T50. Three top 10s in nine cuts made in as many starts this season. Charlie WI Quintessential horse-for-course talent tied for 17th at TPC San Antonio in 2010. Also finished T4 last year, ranking second in par-4 scoring average and T2 in par breakers. Two top 25s among seven cuts made in eight starts this season. Jim FURYK First trip to San Antonio in 19 years. He's 6-for-6 this season with a pair of top 15s, the more recent of which a T7 at Copperhead. Ranks eighth on TOUR in fairways hit, T5 in proximity to the hole and 40th in adjusted scoring. Brendon de Jonge Reeled in a T10 at Redstone with a closing 66. It was his fourth top 15 among nine cuts made in 11 starts this season. He's 2-for-2 at TPC San Antonio with a T23 in his debut in 2011. Sits 10th on TOUR in the all-around. Ian POULTER First appearance in San Antonio. Currently 19th in strokes gained-putting, ninth in scrambling and T41 in par-4 scoring average. Hasn't missed a cut anywhere in his last 33 starts, 19 of which on the PGA TOUR. D.A. POINTS Much was made about him using his mom's putter en route to victory at Redstone, and while he ranked 10th in strokes gained-putting, he also placed T10 in greens hit to create those opportunities to score. Also finished fifth in scrambling. Charley HOFFMAN No matter where this tournament has been contested, he's flourished, going 7-for-7 with a pair of T13s and a co-runner-up at TPC San Antonio. Tied for 20th last week in Houston where he ranked T2 in greens in regulation. Kevin CHAPPELL Fresh off a T6 in Houston, his best finish since the conclusion of the 2011 season. Ranked fifth in total driving, T27 in greens hit and 17th in strokes gained-putting at Redstone. Co-runner-up at TPC San Antonio in 2011. Brendan STEELE Validated his breakthrough here in 2011 with a T4 last year. Par or better in six of his eight rounds at TPC San Antonio. With a 7-for-8 start to 2013, he's already survived half of his cuts from all of last year (24 starts). Rory McILROY Making his debut in San Antonio. Wanted to add competitive rounds in advance of the Masters. Turned in a T45 at Redstone where he placed seventh in strokes gained-putting but ranked outside the top 60 in both fairways and greens hit.