Off of the WGC Match Play in Austin, the PGA Tour stays in The Lone Star State this week for the Texas Open at the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. With the new 2019 PGA Tour schedule, the Texas Open replaces the Houston Open as the final test prior to The Masters. Currently, only 17 players in this week’s field are scheduled to tee it up next week in Augusta for the season’s first major championship.
The Texas Open is one of the oldest tournaments on Tour, but this will be just the 10th time it has been held at the Oaks Course, a Par-72 Greg Norman design with Sergio Garcia acting as player consultant. It is a very difficult golf course and asks the participants to do almost everything at a high level, much like the games of its architects. However, much of the golf course’s challenges over the years can also be attributed to the Texas winds that often blow in the springtime portion of the Tour schedule. This week’s forecast calls for winds in the 8-11 MPH range with scattered thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday. Winds of these speeds are not brutal and any rain that falls should only soften the course and make it more susceptible to scoring. A golf course that has consistently ranked as one of the more difficult tests on Tour, could provide some lower scoring in the 2019 go around due to what appears to be not incredibly menacing weather.
With only 9 years of results to pull from and many of those years being affected by heavy wind, it is somewhat unclear as to what skill sets set themselves apart from the rest as far as indicators of success at TPC San Antonio. However, three key areas that have been true nearly year in and year out are Greens in Regulation, Scrambling, and Putting. It always helps to hole a lot of putts but GIR and Scrambling make a lot of sense because it is difficult to consistently hit greens in a windy environment, forcing one to scramble for par often over the course of four days. Finally, another area in which one will need to succeed this week is Par 5 Scoring. The four par-5 holes on the Oaks Course have ranked as one of the most challenging groups of long holes of all courses on Tour. Taking advantage of these four holes all week, ought to have a player well into contention come Sunday afternoon. Finally, consider the golf course correlation with El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, host of The Mayacoba Classic. This is also a typically windswept, Greg Norman design with Bermuda grass greens.
FULL TOURNAMENT HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP
Ryan Palmer (-115) over Daniel Berger
Berger is known as a Bermuda grass putting specialist, but he has not been playing all that well this season. He’s 173rd in Greens in Regulation, 125th in Strokes Gained: Putting, and 124th in Par 5 Scoring. Palmer flourishes in his home state of Texas and wins here in the stats. I will take the favorite at the short price.
THREE LONG SHOTS
Ryan Palmer (40-1)
Palmer is a Texas native and has been playing in this event for 15 years. He knows how to handle the wind, has been putting very well this season, and is 6th on Tour in Greens in Regulation. In windy Florida, Palmer took 4th last month at The Honda Classic.
Luke List (50-1)
List is very strong from tee to green and ranks 52nd on Tour in Greens in Regulation. He has been playing well this season, taking 15th at the Genesis and 10th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s a big hitter and ranks 3rd on Tour in Par 5 Scoring.
Jhonattan Vegas (50-1)
Johnny Vegas pencils out very well