A combination of not being too excited about either of these tournaments and last week’s brutal Sunday has left me with very little enthusiasm for this week’s golf.
Going into the weekend I had 6 players inside their respective top 30s and even on Sunday Campillo was 11th with Simpson and Kisner T3rd in the US. To come away with no returns pretty much summed up the run I’m on at the moment.
To make matters worse all 3 of those started their rounds very well on Sunday. Campillo came flying out of the blocks to reach a tie for 3rd but for the second day running he fell apart on the back 9. It was worse in the US as both Simpson and Kisner held the lead during the first 6 holes and looked quite assured. That didn’t last very long however and they joined the rest of the leaderboard in throwing away their chance.
I must admit I was starting to get excited about turning the 2017 results around but instead confidence took another hit and I’m keeping things very straight-froward this week.
Total 2017 pts advised = 172
Total 217 pts returned = 79.72
ROI = -53.65%
Valero Texas Open
I had a more thorough look at this last year so have a read of that if you wish as much of the same applies regarding the course and profile of player. In short, it is a long course with plenty of trees although they are located a little further back off the fairway than last week. They are especially penal however as anyone who remembers Kevin Na’s score of 16 on the Par 9th hole a few years will testify. The greens are bigger so we will see a lot more hit but they are undulating so only the best ball-strikers will manage to hold the correct portions of the green and set-up birdie putts. The greens are a bit of a hybrid with bermuda underseeded with bent and poa. That mix of grasses together with the usual Texas winds are perhaps two of the reasons why Open champions and good links players have a strong record around TPC San Antonio.
On the whole though it is a course that usually tests most parts of the game and that is evident with the all-round rankings of the winners. The last 5 have ranked 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 4th in the all-round.
Kevin Chappell has a good course record ( 2nd in 2011 and 4th in 2016) and he looked back to something close to his best when finishing 7th at The Masters. That left many searching for his name in last week’s field given his solid record on Pete Dye courses. But he didn’t play and while that was a shame it means he will be fresh this week. Chappell has looked like a winner in waiting over the last 2 years and with an average start to 2017 it means we can get a fair price of 33/1 this week. Ranked 19th in the all-round at Augusta and enjoys a tough test of golf which we normally see here at TPC San Antonio with the winning score usually around -10.
Ian Poulter’s interview after his final round was very interesting on Sunday and makes me think he will play well again this week. He was downbeat but very, very self-aware of what had gone wrong and he was happy with his long game. It was his putting that let him down and he believed that tee-to-green he had been good enough to win. Despite his long wait since his win, I’m not convinced he is one of these players that gets in his way.
Needing a top 30 finish to secure his Tour card I think we will see a typically clutch performance from the Englishman. There is no doubt that this normally brilliant putter will have been working on the flat-stick non-stop this week so if he can hold his form there is no reason he can’t go well. Poulter at his best was always comfortable in the wind and he enjoys shaping his ball both ways and keeping the ball-flight down. He finished 2nd at the 2008 Open Championship in some of the highest winds we have seen on Tour in recent times. He doesn’t have the greatest course form but he is mentally tough and I expect another good showing. If he is comfortably inside the top 30 by Sunday then we might see him relax which could bode well down the stretch.
Last year I really fancied Ross Fisher for this long course and he finished inside the top 20 despite putting terribly. So far in 2017 we have seen a huge improvement in his putting and he used that to help him finish 3rd in the WGC Mexico and he also made the Quarter Finals of the WGC Matchplay. He has a great record in Asia and in particular at Nelson and Haworth designed courses such as this. He is a short price but that is perfectly fair for such a classy golfer dropping back to this grade. If the putting improvement is something long-term then he looks sure to play well having had a week off since a solid 41st at the Masters.
Renato Paratore had one of his best results on Tour last week as he finished 8th in Morocco for his 5th Top 10 on Tour. He seems to have been around for ages yet he is still only 20 years old. Unlike many of the field however he has played the course twice and while he didn’t exactly light it up, he made both cuts and finished 68th and 44th. He actually led the field in putting on his debut in 2015 so he obviously likes the greens. Last week he ranked 7th in the all-round ranking so his whole game is in better shape than when previously arriving in Shenzhen. The length of the course will be no problem as he is a big hitter and currently ranks 20th in driving distance. Hopefully he can push on from last week on a course he is familiar with and he looks an ok price to do so at 100/1.
Summary of results
Valero Texas Open
Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 28/1
Ian Poulter – 1pt ew @ 66/1
Ross Fisher – 1pt ew @ 16/1
Renato Paratore – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1
Weekly pts advised = 7pts
Tootal 2017 pts advised = 179pts