Power Rankings: Valero Texas Open

April 16, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM fantasy columnist

In its brief two-year history as host of the Valero Texas Open, the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio has proven that it's not for the impatient and the wayward. It's also not a track where any of the 156 in the field should expect to succeed with new strategies in course management. You take what it gives you, which isn't much.

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Greg Norman designed the 7,435-yard course with an assist from ball-striking specialist Sergio Garcia. What they concocted was a test that emphasizes precision tee to green as well as imagination around seriously difficult green complexes, mimicking what you might find in Norman's native Australia.

With a scoring average of 73.67 a year ago, it was the most difficult of 22 par 72s on the PGA TOUR schedule. It was the only course that ranked inside the top five most difficult in both driving accuracy (fifth; 51.65 percent) and greens in regulation (fourth; 56.32 percent). (Those stats ranked a respective sixth and seventh in 2010.)

Furthermore, TPC San Antonio submitted the shortest average distance of putts made in 2011 -- by 15 inches -- at 66'5". It ranked second-shortest by one inch in its debut the previous year.

And before the field thinks that it can attack the four longest holes while playing it safe elsewhere, this venue posted the highest scoring average on par 5s of any course in 2011 with a clip of 4.94. It sat third in 2010.

There you have it. The AT&T Oaks Course is the epitome of taking it one shot at a time, and then not trying to do too much with it. Customarily breezy conditions will add to the considerable challenge. A threat of rain and thunderstorms creeps into the picture late Thursday, and it's expected to linger throughout the day on Friday. The weekend looks dry and clear. High temperatures will camp out in the low 80s throughout.

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Power Rankings: Valero Texas Open
Rank Player   Comment
An annual contender at this event, with five top 15s in six starts including both at TPC San Antonio. Co-runner-up last year. Placed T8 at last week's RBC Heritage, ranking T7 in greens hit and T6 in birdies. He also converted two eagles.
Took two weeks off following a T8 at Shell Houston, his second top 10 of the season. During last year's T11, he led the field in distance off the tee and ranked T10 in greens hit. Currently 23rd in Strokes Gained-Putting.
Rested after missing the cut at the Masters, but owns four top 10s this year to co-lead the PGA TOUR. Ranks 21st in greens hit and 12th in Strokes Gained-Putting. Tied for 15th here last year, finishing inside the top 25 in fairways, greens and putting.
En route to a share of fifth place here last year, ranked T52 in greens hit but T2 in birdies. Solo runner-up here in 2010. Needs to rebound from Sunday's 81 at Harbour Town during which he hit only eight greens and still needed 36 putts.
The local resident shared third place here in 2010. He missed last year's cut as he grinded through discomfort in his lower back. Three top 10s this season. Currently 38th in Strokes Gained-Putting and 32nd in the all-around.
First-timer at TPC San Antonio. Closing 77 at Harbour Town bumped him from the top 15 into a share of 44th place, his worst finish on the PGA TOUR in nearly nine months. Currently 16th on TOUR in greens hit and second in bogey avoidance.
Inexperience takes a back seat to talent and moxie this week. Sits 14th on the PGA TOUR in greens hit and 30th in Strokes Gained-Putting. Also eighth in distance off the tee. Coming off a career-best T8 at the RBC Heritage where he ranked third in GIR.
Arrives on the heels of a T17 at the RBC Heritage, his third top 20 in his last seven starts. Ranked T13 in greens hit at Harbour Town. Led the field in GIR en route to a T15 here last year. Currently 32nd on TOUR in total driving and 37th in greens.
Superb fit as he's 10th on TOUR in total driving, 32nd in greens in regulation and 56th in Strokes Gained-Putting. Shared fifth place here last year. Hasn't played since a T8 three weeks ago in Houston, his second top 10 in 10 starts this year.
Closed out a share of fourth place at the RBC Heritage 67-68 with 10 birdies. Ranked second in greens hit for the week. It was his third top 20 in his last four starts. Sits 71st on TOUR in both fairways and greens. Also 39th in Strokes Gained-Putting.

In 2012, our expert will be publishing his list of players who didn't quite make the top 10 for that particular week. Here are five other players Rob Bolton likes at TPC San Antonio:

11. Kevin Na ... Infamously carded a 16 on the par-4 ninth hole in last year's opener here. More recently, he co-leads the PGA TOUR with four top 10s including last week's T8 at Harbour Town where he ranked fourth in Strokes Gained-Putting. Currently 21st in fairways hit.

12. Brandt Jobe ... The Texan is a good fit. He's 24th on TOUR in total driving, 50th in greens in regulation and 63rd in Strokes Gained-Putting. Faded a bit since resurgence in March capped by a T9 in Puerto Rico, but he shared 15th place here last year.

13. Boo Weekley ... Continues to turn back the clock with a T6 at Harbour Town, his third top 15 in his last five starts. Has status via the Past Champions category. Sits second on the PGA TOUR in total driving and 30th in greens hit. First-timer at TPC San Antonio.

14. Charlie Wi ... Finished T17 in his only appearance at TPC San Antonio in 2010 so he wasn't overmatched by the length. Ranks 50th in Strokes Gained-Putting, but sits a disappointing 165th in final-round scoring average at 73.29.

15. Matt Bettencourt ... This is in respect to his well-documented, streaky reputation. Shared sixth place at last week's RBC Heritage, his first top 25 of the year. He ranked T53 in greens hit at Harbour Town but a lofty sixth in Strokes Gained-Putting and T6 in birdies.