Fantasy preview: Valero Texas Open

April 17, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

When Yahoo!'s Group A is short on options as it is for this week's Valero Texas Open -- only five are in the field -- gamers are torn between laying up or going for the green in two. However, unlike the dynamic typically found on a golf course, the margin of error for Yahoo! gamers is large, so either approach has merit.

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Power Rankings
Rob Bolton breaks down the Valero Texas Open field in this week's Power Rankings and provides five players who could surprise.

Since you can plug in 40 percent of Group A into your lineup, your strategy is reliant on your goal. If you're on the defensive, stick with the most popular selections. Whereas if you need to make up ground, get aggressive with at least one of your picks. But whatever you do, make sure there's at least one guy that figures to play the weekend. This week, that insurance is Matt Kuchar.

I continued my trend of alternating good weeks with the forgettable in PGA TOUR Matchups on Facebook, with a 4-1-0 record at the RBC Heritage to boost my overall slate to 29-20-1 for 63 points.

My picks for the Valero Texas Open:

Matt Kuchar over K.J. Choi Johnson Wagner over Brendan Steele Justin Leonard over Harrison Frazar • Charley Hoffman over Kevin Chappell • Harris English over Bud Cauley

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... J.B. Holmes (2); Matt Kuchar (6); Kevin Na (11)

Group B ... Charley Hoffman (1); Fredrik Jacobson (4); Jimmy Walker (5); Kevin Streelman (8)

Group C ... Johnson Wagner (3); Harris English (7); Cameron Tringale (9); Kevin Stadler (10); Brandt Jobe (12); Boo Weekley (13); Charlie Wi (14); Matt Bettencourt (15)

Sleepers Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... none

Group B ... Roberto Castro; Chris Stroud

Group C ... Greg Chalmers; Will Claxton; Nathan Green

On a Roll (Yahoo! Group)

Bud Cauley (C) ... After three consecutive top 15s, he finally slowed down with a T37 at Harbour Town, but he was bitten by the big number thrice on the weekend. Overall, he's 30th on TOUR in ball-striking, 25th in the all-around and 23rd in bogey avoidance. No worries that he's a first-timer at TPC San Antonio.

Matt Every (C) ... Naturally, Carl Pettersson was my last cut from this section a week ago. I learned my lesson that one outstanding finish can qualify the right guy. (The Swede was a solo runner-up at the Shell Houston Open two weeks before his five-stroke romp at the RBC Heritage.) Every shared eighth place last week thanks to a field-low 67 on Sunday. And he finished T24 at Bay Hill three weeks prior, so I'm not omitting him this week. He ranked T2 in Strokes Gained-Putting at Harbour Town and carded only six over-par holes all week.

John Rollins (B) ... He's posted T20s in two of his last three starts. Sits seventh on TOUR in ball-striking. Figures to make his first cut in three tries at TPC San Antonio.

Vaughn Taylor (C) ... Co-leader after one round of last week's RBC Heritage where he finished T13 for his fourth top 25 in his last four starts. Ranks 33rd on TOUR in Strokes Gained-Putting. Also 2-for-2 at TPC San Antonio.

Mark Anderson (B) ... Arrives following a T13 at the RBC Heritage, his career-best on the PGA TOUR. It was also his sixth consecutive cut made, which is always impressive for any rookie. Sits outside the top 125 overall in both fairways and greens hit, however. You don't need to dig this deep this week in Yahoo!'s Group B.

Horses for Courses (Yahoo! Group)

Scott Piercy (C) ... If there's a guy that got snubbed from my Power Rankings, he's it. Established the course record at TPC San Antonio with a 64 in the second round in 2010, but he didn't break par in his other three rounds and finished T30. So far this season, he's traded five top 25s and a T50 with five missed cuts. Sits 46th on TOUR in greens in regulation, 32nd in Strokes Gained-Putting and T32 in bogey avoidance.

Ryan Palmer (B) ... Co-owner of the course record with a 64 in the final round in 2010. Shared ninth place in that inaugural edition, then missed the cut by three in his return. No top 20s in nine starts this year, but this is a sensible week to take the Texan out for a spin.

Rob's Yahoo! lineup
Group A: J.B. Holmes; Matt Kuchar
Group B: Brian Charley Hoffman; Fredrik Jacobson; Kevin Streelman; Jimmy Walker
Group C: Harris English; Johnson Wagner
YAHOO! STATS: 2,076 points; 23,751st place
SPRING: 269 points (20,297th)
ONE-AND-DONE: Charley Hoffman
2012 EARNINGS: $1,262,672.00
DUFFER: Neal Lancaster
2012 EARNINGS: $252,732.00

Kevin Chappell (B) ... If you have only two years of course history and only one start in the books, only one finish betters his co-runner-up last year. The 2011 PGA TOUR rookie shared the lead here after 36 holes last year, and would go on to co-lead the field with two eagles and rank fourth in putting. He's missed only two cuts in 11 starts this season but has yet to post a top 20.

Hunter Haas (B) ... Given he's 4-for-10 this year with no top-35 finishes, it's difficult to endorse him anywhere, but TPC San Antonio is on the short list. The Lone Star State native shared 15th here last year in his only appearance at the host track.

Leaking Oil (Yahoo! Group)

Harrison Frazar (B) ... The Dallas native and University of Texas product has missed his last four cuts and hasn't broken par in his last eight rounds.

David Hearn (C) ... He's missed his last four cuts and hasn't posted a top 40 since beginning his season with a T10 at Waialae.

Ryuji Imada (B) ... After missing the cut at the RBC Heritage by eight strokes, he's 2-for-9 with two MDFs.

J.J. Killeen (B) and Jason Kokrak (B) ... Both PGA TOUR rookies have missed their last four cuts.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Brendan Steele (B) ... The defending champ could use the good vibes of his return to TPC San Antonio. Since sharing fifth place at the Waste Management Phoenix Open two and a half months ago, he's missed four of six cuts, including his last three, and hasn't finished better than T69 (Northern Trust).

K.J. Choi (A) ... First appearance at this event since 2005. Normally suited for the grind-it-out tracks like TPC San Antonio, he's struggled since a season-opening T5 at Kapalua. After getting bounced in the first round of the WGC-Match Play, he's finished outside the top 30 in his last four starts, including a missed cut at the Masters.

Spencer Levin (A) ... Survived the cut on the number at Harbour Town last week, likely indicating that he's fine after his withdrawal from the Shell Houston Open two weeks prior. The problem this week is that his splits are unimpressive. Currently 163rd on TOUR in fairways hit and 132nd in greens. In connecting with my lede above, he's the club you pull in Group A if you're going for the green.

Steve Flesch (C) ... TPC San Antonio has clearly suited his game, evident by a solo eighth in 2010 and a T15 last year; however, he was fully exempt on the PGA TOUR and playing full-time in both seasons. Now stuck in the Past Champions category, he's a mere 0-for-3 this year and hasn't broken par in any of his seven rounds.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Anthony Kim (B) ... Pulled out of the Shell Houston Open two weeks ago with an injury to a shoulder. No top 40s among two cuts made in eight starts this year. Continue to avoid.

Michael Putnam (C) ... In late January, he circled this tournament for his return to the PGA TOUR after sitting out a few months with a fractured lunate bone in his left wrist. Given four starts on a Major Medical Extension. He capped three rehab starts on the Nationwide Tour with a share of ninth place at last week's TPC Stonebrae Championship on the Nationwide Tour where he ranked T2 in greens in regulation.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

Brian Davis (B) ... After consecutive ties for fourth place pre-Masters, he shared 13th at Harbour Town last week. Hasn't played the Valero Texas Open since TPC San Antonio assumed role as host in 2010.

D.A. Points (B) ... Finished T20 at last week's RBC Heritage. Like Davis, Points hasn't played the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

James Driscoll (C) ... A disappointing decision for gamers given that four of his last five top 10s on the PGA TOUR have occurred in the state of Texas. Furthermore, the only tournament at which he's posted multiple top 10s is the Valero Texas Open, including a T9 at TPC San Antonio in 2010.

Brendon Todd (C) ... It's always concerning when a golfer in the reshuffle withdraws after the commitment deadline, but now that we're into the deepest fields of the year, he won't have to worry about playing time, especially since he's earned north of $361,000. More troubling is that he's missed his last four cuts and hasn't broken par in his last eight rounds.