Valero Texas Open
October 9-12, 2008
Tournament #44 of 48
LaCantera GC (Resort) [San Antonio, TX]
Par 35-35=70 - 6,896 yards
Years hosted: 1995-present
Purse: $4,500,000 (Winner-$810,000)
Field size: 132
Cut: Top 70 & ties after 36 holes (if >78 golfers are tied, another cut of Top 70 & ties will occur after 54 holes)
Ask most golf fans and they can rattle off who carded the three 59s in PGA Tour history. They might even be able to name other noteworthy sub-60 rounds. But what about full-tournament scoring records? In 2003, Tommy Armour III shot 26-under-par 64-62-63-65=254 at the Texas Open to establish the new low aggregate in a 72-hole event. This week's trivia consists of two questions:
1) Whose aggregate record did TA3 break?
2) Who owns the PGA Tour record for most strokes under par for a 72-hole event?
HINTS: Two different golfers. Both active today. Neither is in the field this week. Rocco Mediate was the runner-up to both answers in their respective events, finishing eight strokes back in each. ANSWERS are at "The 19th Hole."
Rotoworld Golf's most loyal readers will recall that Dustin Johnson was one of my three candidates for Rookie of the Year back in January. (Mentioning the other two again isn't important, nor has it been all season .) And while his Turning Stone triumph was cool, it will barely register in the voting. That's because Andres Romero was the first rookie to win (New Orleans), which is often the dagger for other contenders. Chez Reavie also won a FedExCup-eligible event (Canadian Open) but it occurred four months after Romero broke through. And the Argentine was already in our stream of consciousness last year. So, unless Reavie or DJ rises up and claims another trophy in the Fall Series, Romero will walk away with it.
I always enjoy watching the Texas Open, particularly since LaCantera sets up for aggressive play. The greens are larger than some entire par-3s, which immediately eliminates guys that can't find them with a birdie putt to spare. Moreover, distance control is the premium, which is my way of assigning value based on recent results. You can't count on putting in the short-term like you can on iron play. (The inherent flaw in that formula is that guys that are struggling with their ball-striking are given a wider margin of error this week, bringing a larger number of flukes into the equation.)
The winner of the tournament will be the last not to earn FedExCup points and a trip to the Masters, as the event moves into May. Next year's Texas Open will kick off the brand-spankin' gnu Texas Swing, a three-event tour that will finish with the Byron Nelson and Colonial in that order. (It's a new slot for the Nelson, too, incidentally.) The PODS (nee Chrysler) Championship made a similar move from 2006 into 2007 and has quickly become a staple of the Florida Swing. In an ironic twist (or likely because of it), the event will say good-bye to LaCantera in favor of its new site north of town - the AT&T Oaks Course (Greg Norman design) at TPC San Antonio. Of course, AT&T was the title sponsor of the TPC Sugarloaf stop, whose opening on the schedule will be filled by the, drum roll please, Texas Open.
(In related news this week, the Buick Open has been bumped to two weeks before the PGA Championship. This would normally be great news for the event as pitchman, Tiger Woods, would most certainly pencil it in if the WGC-Bridgestone wasn't sandwiched in between. Stay tuned for more news on that once Woods returns to action. The tour has yet to release an official schedule.)
The weather will be negligible so no specific shot will be required to win, but Texans tend to contend. As much as I'd like to hang my hat on the fact that it's because they simply play better in Texas, just consider that there are lots and lots of Texans on tour, and a ton of them make starts near home. The law of averages defends the likelihood for two or three of them to place inside the Top 10. Come Sunday, the emotion takes over, which may or may not lead to a Texan on top. But I'm not messin' with the Texans.
Summer returns to the PGA Tour (and open arms) with a trip to south Texas this week, where the temperature will rise into the upper 80s throughout the tournament. Early this week, a system skirted north of town, leaving LaCantera dry, which will allow for fast fairways and firm greens through Friday. After the 36-hole cut, a chance of showers and thunderstorms will linger, bringing an increased impact of winds, a significant variable considering the unencumbered layout and elevation changes at the track. All in all though, this is quite seasonable for the San Antonio area. Expect similar scoring averages to 2007.
Course Scoring Averages - 2007
Round 1 - 69.527
Round 2 - 69.777
Round 3 - 68.782
Round 4 - 69.256
Past Champions in the Field
YEAR: Golfer (starts @ LaCantera) - 2007 finish . Other Top 10s @ LaCantera (YEAR)
2007/2001/2000: Justin Leonard (9) - 1st . 2nd (1995); T-2 (1998); T-10 (2004)
2006: Eric Axley (2) - T-44 . none
2005: Robert Gamez (12) - T21 . none
2003: Tommy Armour III (12) - DNP . none
1997: Tim Herron (8) - DNP . T-6 (1996)
1994 (@ Oak Hills CC): Bob Estes (13) - T-37 . T-4 (2001); T-10 (2002)
Justin Leonard. It's been one year now since Leonard's career was official revived. You know who he is, and he's damn good.
Projection: Top 5
Dustin Johnson. Expect a letdown this week. (Andres Romero missed the cut in Houston the week after winning in New Orleans. Chez Reavie finished T-52 at the no-cut, but very deep WGC-Bridgestone seven days after claiming the Canadian Open title.) And although I understand it, Johnson raised a red flag when he seemed beside himself after clinching the Turning Stone. (Anthony Kim he is not.) He might be the latest twenty-something to make headlines but it's clear he doesn't quite understand his own capabilities just yet. He free-wheels it and it paid off on the open, wet, long track at Atunyote. He could win again this week with that reckless abandon of a game or crash and burn like he did for several months leading up to last week. Regardless, he's a fun golfer to own in the fantasy game. Don't jump to conclusions on all of the possible levels and connections here but he reminds me a bit of a young John Daly, albeit subdued. Johnson is a stud of a golfer, a natural athlete even, but I get the vibe that he'll need some discipline to maintain a high level of performance. He is almost assured of being overvalued when Draft Day 2009 rolls around.
Chad Campbell. Native Texan has three Top 20s but nothing higher than a T-15 (2007) in his last three starts at LaCantera. Nevertheless, the stress of the birth of his first child and the Ryder Cup in the rearview mirror, life is much simpler for Campbell than it was a month ago. Now, the last time I picked him to win, he went 76-76=MC at the PGA Championship, so if you play based on my previous performance, I've just made your decision easy. With a presidential election straight ahead, I figured you would appreciate the honesty and forthcoming nature of that reminder. The next time I hear a politician say, "We all make mistakes" will be the first time.
Mathew Goggin. Four starts at the event (just one in the last five years, 2007) and no Top 25s, but here he is. He's having a career year and the numbers support another great finish this week. He's 15th in ball-striking and was one of the seven T-3s at the Turning Stone.
Brian Gay. Ignore the missed cut last year, when he also missed the cut at the Nelson and the Colonial. In those events this year, he finished T-7 and T-10, respectively. Born in Fort Worth, Gay is coming off a P-2 at the Viking and his distance control remains top-shelf.
Steve Marino. You gotta love Marino in a middle-tier field on a track that will surrender gobs of birdies. Only idle Kenny Perry has made more birdies on tour this year. I'm still looking for that extra gear on Sunday from the non-winner, but he just might have to run way ahead through 54 holes and then shoot par to get it done if he's ever going to break through. Granted, it's hard to win and I have high expectations on the guy, but he's fearless and fun to watch.
Dean Wilson. Finally. I've alluded to his record at this event a couple of times throughout the year, and the time has come to use it and abuse it. Wilson has played in each of the last four Texas Opens, finishing T-6 (2007), T-2 (2006), 7th (2005) and T-3 (2004). He has no direct professional or even an old amateur tie to the state of Texas, much less San Antonio; so there's your anti-Lone Star State-connection argument. And I wish I could statistically prove how Wilson is the template for how to project success at this event, but he simply plays his socks off at LaCantera. One-and-dones that haven't burned him should start with supreme confidence this week.
Heath Slocum. Has three Top 13s in his last four starts in the event, including a solo 5th last year. You already know that he's one of the best tee-to-green, but he's also 1st on tour in proximity to the hole, a distinct advantage with greens that have multiple ZIP codes. Yes, Slocum is a bit streaky and he's really not streaking right now, but he's exactly the kind of multi-win veteran that pops up in the Fall Series.
Steve Allan. What can you say about the guy lately? Since committing to just swinging the club slower (advice everyone but Nick Price could use every once in a while), the Aussie has gone out and posted a pair of Top 5 in his last two starts. He hasn't played this event since 2004 but who cares! Ride him like a rented dingo.
J.J. Henry. Has shown some life lately but he cracks my Top 10 using the Dean Wilson Rule of Obvious Choices. Dating back to 2001, the TCU product has finished T-6 (2007), T-5 (2005 and 2004) and T-2 (2001). He sprayed a couple of other mediocre paydays in there but you get the point. For one-and-dones that exhausted Wilson already, consider Henry this week.
Charley Hoffman. Made a surprise appearance at last week's Dunhill Links, placing an impressive T-24. I know it's a coincidence but his best two finishes in 2008 came in Houston (T-6) and at the Nelson (T-7). Blondielocks is the last guy with over $800K in the bank this year with $830,129, but one more paycheck would absolutely secure his 2009 card. In two starts at LaCantera, he has a T-11 (2007) and a T-8 (2006).
Eric Axley. Like the results at the PODS, you pretty much need to throw out all missed cuts at the Turning Stone, what with the weather that took the fun out of funny. The stack-and-tilter had found a groove and returns to the site of his only PGA Tour victory.
Ben Crane. Solid ball-striker, great putter should have no problem finishing here. Hasn't played the event since 2004 (T-41). Lives just north of Fort Worth.
Sean O'Hair. At some point in the last couple of years, O'Hair morphed from amazing story to just another one of the rank and filers grinding it out in relative obscurity. The Stewart Cink-lost and weather-beaten PODS aside, O'Hair is still just 26 but hasn't really jetted upward. Now, with Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas setting a new standard, O'Hair is getting lost in the shuffle. He's never played the Texas Open but shouldn't otherwise have any problem in securing a healthy check this week. I'm hedging because he's playing the Fall Series for a reason (I think). If you disagree, consider swapping him for Davis Love III below.
Pat Perez. Quietly ground out a T-10 at the Turning Stone, impressive since Perez doesn't seem to fit the profile of a guy that has the patience for that kind of weather. Has two Top 25s in four starts at LaCantera and hasn't teed it up here since 2005.
Bo Van Pelt. Finished T-19 at the Turning Stone and T-22 at the Viking. Finished T-11 at last year's Texas Open. Don't bump up any higher.
Davis Love III. Making his first appearance at the Texas Open, which is why he's down here. Had a super T-3 at the Turning Stone and knows exactly how he will get it done in the Fall Series. He might play every event down the stretch to earn his card, which would take another $200K or so to secure.
Stephen Ames. Tends to rise up in deeper fields, which might speak to his short-range motivations. Has made four starts in this event, missing the cut twice (2005, 2002), placing T-44 last year and T-8 in 1999. Although I like him in the long-term, remember that he didn't win until he was 40. He's a rich man's international Brad Bryant. He might already be looking ahead at defending at Disney next month.
Charles Howell III. Just one Top 25 in six starts at LaCantera. Finished T-3 at Turning Stone but hasn't chased a Top 10 with a Top 50 since March 2007.
Ryan Armour. Just warning you that he hasn't had a Top 25 in six months. Before last year's T-6 at the Texas Open, Armour had posted two in his previous three starts. This is just more fuel to my philosophy of weighing recent play over history unless there is a trend of Dean Wilson proportions in play.
Jesper Parnevik. Although you can ignore that WD at the Turning Stone (I wouldn't have returned to play one hole on Saturday morning either just to miss the cut), I dumped the Swede in here to bring attention to his opening 61 at last year's Texas Open. It proved to be a catalyst for a great week even though he lost in the playoff to Justin Leonard. It's not going to happen again and Parnevik's game is too inconsistent to rely on anything right now.
Tag Ridings. It took only 18 holes to waste a golden opportunity. His Sunday 79 thwarted what could have laid the late-season foundation for a ticket to 2009. Instead, it was a bridge to nowhere. Ridings is pretty much back to where he started, except that there is $1.5 million less on the table this week. And he's missed the cut here the last two years.
Parker McLachlin. OK, so I'm piling on a bit. Toss in a T-66 at the Turning Stone to his three MCs since winning in Reno. And he missed the cut at last year's Texas Open in his only career appearance. Seems that he should have a convo with fellow Hawaiian, Dean Wilson, about how to navigate LaCantera. Symbiotic relationships can be invaluable.
Joe Durant. Has teed it up just once in the last seven years at this event, missing the cut in 2005. Has now gone seven months without a Top 40. However, if there are any daily leagues still alive out there and JD is putting well on Thursday, you should strongly consider getting him in there on Friday. He'll need to channel some of that insane play from October 2006 to retain his card.
Craig Kanada. Since it would have been too easy to plug Matt Kuchar in here, I'm going with a guy that has missed the cut in all four of his appearances at LaCantera dating back to 1997. In his last six starts this year, Kanada has missed five cuts and finished T-63 (Viking). Oh, Kanada!
For each remaining event in the Fall Series, I will give sort out the simple data for the guys on both sides of the bubble that are scheduled to play in the current event. Everyone listed is in danger of losing his tour card. So, because they are already exempt for 2009, you will not see guys like Nick Watney (116th) and Zach Johnson (125th) even though they are in the field.
Inside Top 125
Money List: 112th
Money List: 115th
Money List: 117th
Money List: 118th
Money List: 119th
Money List: 120th
Money List: 121st
Money List: 122nd
Money List: 123rd
Money List: 124th
Money List: 126th
Money List: 128th
Money List: 129th
Davis Love III
Money List: 131st
Money List: 132nd
Money List: 134th
Money List: 135th
Money List: 136th
Money List: 137th
Money List: 138th
Money List: 139th
Money List: 140th
Money List: 141st
Money List: 142nd
Money List: 144th
Frank Lickliter II
Money List: 145th
Money List: 146th
Money List: 147th
Money List: 149th
Money List: 153rd
Money List: 156th
Money List: 160th
Money List: 164th
Money List: 167th
Money List: 168th
Money List: 169th
Money List: 173rd
Money List: 193rd
Money List: 194th
Money List: 223rd
RESHUFFLE - Q School/Nationwide Tour
The final reshuffle was made at the conclusion of the Viking Classic; therefore, only earnings will be updated here from now on. Golfers whose earnings are in bold type are projected to have secured a 2009 PGA Tour card. From the fantasy perspective, this list provides non-weekly formats a projected value (i.e. likelihood of qualifying for a field on merit, ability to set schedule) of golfers playing out of this category.
Final "number." Golfer, 2008 earnings
* - In the field at the Texas Open
1. *Nicholas Thompson, $1,576,526
2. John Merrick, $1,280,507
3. *Kevin Streelman, $1,126,165
4. Michael Letzig, $858,477
5. *Tim Wilkinson, $785,007
6. *Brad Adamonis, $768,113
7. *Martin Laird, $732,560
8. *Patrick Sheehan, $750,497
9. *Matt Jones, $703,000
10. *Jason Day, $669,335
11. *Marc Turnesa, $580,052
12. James Driscoll, $639,726
13. *Jon Mills, $489,510
14. *Frank Lickliter II, $499,480
15. Roland Thatcher, $445,212 (out until 2009)
16. Justin Bolli, $438,022
17. *Tag Ridings, $439,189
18. *Y.E. Yang, $405,548
19. *Brett Rumford, $386,419
20. *Scott Sterling, $338,632
21. *Carlos Franco, $355,440
22. *Omar Uresti, $290,210
23. *Brenden Pappas, $247,934
24. *Kenneth Ferrie, $228,398
25. *Jin Park, $227,102
26. *Kent Jones, $242,714
27. *John Riegger, $215,408
28. *Bob Sowards, $204,109
29. *Jimmy Walker, $185,219
30. *Chad Collins, $187,325
31. *Brad Elder, $212,061
32. *Todd Demsey, $165,454
33. *Tom Scherrer, $136,131
34. *Chris Stroud, $129,845
35. *Alejandro Canizares, $125,539
36. *David Lutterus, $120,088
37. *Jim McGovern, $114,843
38. *Kyle Thompson, $136,973
39. *Paul Claxton, $106,823
40. *Michael Bradley, $92,056
41. *Jason Allred, $71,953
42. *Cody Freeman, $68,673
43. *Ron Whittaker, $59,977
44. Jonathan Kaye, $41,375 (possibly out until 2009)
45. *Travis Perkins, $36,583
46. *Tommy Gainey, $48,905
47. Duffy Waldorf, $7,350 (out until 2009)
48. Carl Paulson, $0 (hasn't played anywhere since 2005)
NOTE: Turning Stone champ, Dustin Johnson, is the fourth golfer from this category (Richard S. Johnson, Chez Reavie, Parker McLachlin) to win in 2008. He will play out of the Winners category through 2010 and has been removed from this list.
Golfer (PRIORITY RANKING) - has: # of events played/$ earned . remaining: # of events remaining under extension/$ remaining unearned
* - In the field at the Texas Open
*Ben Crane [MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Jason Bohn (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Brett Quigley (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Dudley Hart (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
*Shane Bertsch (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Chris Perry (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 18/$515,445
Joey Snyder III (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 25/$647,466
*Brandt Jobe (MAJOR) - has: 18/$293,214 . remaining: 5/$480,950
David Berganio, Jr. (MAJOR) - has: 1/$0 . remaining: 5/$346,345
Hank Kuehne (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 18/$636,221
Paul Azinger (MAJOR) - has: 8/$42,590 . remaining: 6/$568,521
Wes Short, Jr. (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 15/$743,061
*David Duval (MAJOR) - has: 17/$83,727 . remaining: 3/$629,508
Patrick Moore (NATIONWIDE/3 WINS) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 12/$452,636
Jonathan Kaye (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 8/$41,375 . remaining: 13/$743,805
*Michael Bradley (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 11/$92,056 . remaining: 3/$661,235
Carl Paulson (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 15/$428,522
Birthdays - October 8-14
10/8 . Tommy Armour III (49)
10/9 . James Driscoll (31)
10/10 . Johan Edfors (33)
10/11 . Greg Chalmers (35)
10/12 . Steve Lowery (48); Jin Park (29)
10/13 . Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (28); Kyle Reifers (25)
10/14 . Rocky Thompson (69); J.C. Snead (68)
The 19th Hole
This week, I'm sharing with you an email from Mark S. in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He writes:
"Do you have a list of sites that can meet the requirements for a fantasy golf league that are more similar to other fantasy games (there's a draft and each owner takes a golfer that cannot be on another team)? Free is obviously preferred to play, but I'll take any that you have. And, of course, the more customizable the better. (I believe you had a league where you draft Tiger month by month, so I could draft Tiger's May but you can draft Tiger's June and so on.)"
If you can answer Mark's question, email me at RotoworldRob@charter.net. I've never seen an online format that fits his description, although I'd love to take a peek at one. As I shared with you a few weeks ago, my own league is similar but I run it manually, using Excel spreadsheets. And I didn't receive any emails telling me that I was wasting my time when there was a better mousetrap available on the Internet.
I will post any helpful responses in this space next week. Thanks.
1) Mark Calcavecchia shot 65-60-64-67=256 at the 2001 Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. It broke Mike Souchak's record of 257 at the 1955 Texas Open.
2) Ernie Els shot 31-under-par 261 at the 2003 Mercedes Championships. That broke Joe Durant's record of 29-under through the first four rounds at the 2001 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. (Durant would go on to establish the 90-hole record of 36-under in that event, a record that still stands.)