By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
It's probably unfair to argue that the stats suggest anything noteworthy and relevant this week. After all, TPC San Antonio is only three years old and it's already undergone a number of modifications to help ease one's experience on what last year proved as the most difficult par 72 in a non-major in three seasons.
If you understand how the challenges of host courses appear on paper, then on scoring average alone (73.989 in 2012), it won't come as a surprise that the last two champions have either led (Ben Curtis, 2012) or co-led (Brendan Steele, 2011) their fields in bogey avoidance. Adam Scott ranked second in the stat during TPC San Antonio's debut in 2010.
In direct correlation, all three winners placed highly in scrambling. Scott finished second before both Steele and Curtis ranked sixth. Behind that connection, however, is the fact that the Aussie tied for 19th in greens in regulation and Steele checked in at T40 in GIR, so scrambling was a primary element to their success. Curtis led his field in creating birdie opportunities, so he didn't put as much pressure on this part of his game, yet delivered on it anyway.
All three champs finished inside the top five in par-3 scoring average the weeks they won. Scott and Curtis also cracked the top five in par-4 scoring average. The tradeoff for Steele was while he ranked T26 in par-4 scoring, he co-led his field in par-5 scoring. Scott (T11) and Curtis (T32) didn't factor on the longest holes.
Certainly the par 5s are gettable though, right?. Not so much. TPC San Antonio has been home to the most difficult set of par 5s in any non-major in each of the last two years. Flat out, this 7,435-yard track will test mettle and reveal guile. Those that let the course come to them and take what it gives -- on the infrequent occasions when even that happens -- will grind their way up the leaderboard.
One last word: Don't rule out first-timers. Scott (obviously), Steele and Curtis each emerged with victory in his first appearance. The winner receives two pieces of hardware -- one is the timeless trophy made of granite and glass; the other is a pair of Lucchese cowboy boots, which are clearly made for winnin'.