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Texas Open Preview: Can't Miss, Right?

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Time was, leading a major wire-to-wire was unheard of. Now it seems that going from 54-hole leader to the victor is just about as impossible. Of the last eight major winners, only one, Louis Oosthuizen, parlayed a 54-hole lead into a championship. Think about that - seven of the last eight major champions came from behind to win a major championship. It certainly lends credence to the theory that it's easier to play well when trailing than when leading. There are exceptions to this rule, of course; Tiger Woods rarely surrenders a 54-hole lead, but up until last week, we haven't seen that Tiger Woods in a while. It takes a certain type of person to handle the pressure that comes with a 54-hole lead in a major. Some very talented golfers have cracked under that pressure the last 12 months. Perhaps that experience will help those young players the next time they find themselves in the precarious position of leading a major after three rounds. The longer this trend continues, the more pressure will be placed upon the leader heading into the final round. The first-round lead used to be somewhat of a bad omen at a major. Pretty soon, the 54-hole lead might be thought of in the same manner.

What the Masters means:

Charl Schwartzel: First and foremost, he'll never be referred to as "Carl" anymore. Schwartzel, just like Martin Kaymer last year, was plenty talented before he won his major. He's no fluke. This was eventually going to happen, but it certainly came a lot sooner than anyone expected.

Tiger Woods: Woods might be the only player on the PGA Tour who can provide magic. And his front-side 31 on Sunday provided an opportunity for a magical moment. That moment didn't come, though, but he's still the main draw on the PGA Tour, no matter how far his game has fallen.

Adam Scott: I have to admit, it sure looks funny seeing Scott with that long putter, but hey, whatever works. Fact is, he has too much talent to throw it all away on the greens, so if it works, then more power to him.

This week:
Valero Texas Open

Last Year:
Adam Scott shot a final-round 67 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Fredrik Jacobson.

Players to Consider:

1. Adam Scott

It seems too easy, which always makes me cringe. Scott is the defending champ and is coming off a great showing at the Masters. Can't miss, right?

2. J.J. Henry

Henry didn't take to the new course all that well last year, but with a year under his belt he should fare much better this year. He's yet to miss a cut in 10 starts this season and has finished in the top-20 in five of his last six starts.

3. Jimmy Walker

Even before Walker found his "A" game, he still managed to play well at this event. With an improved overall game, he should again find success in Texas.

4. Spencer Levin

Much like Walker, Levin is playing some of the best golf of his career this season. Add to that his top-10 finish last year and we're looking at a guy who could win this week.

5. Fredrik Jacobson

Can't argue with his results here. He finished runner-up to Scott last year and tied for fifth the year before, albeit at a different location. He may not be at the top of his game, but something about this tournament brings out the best in Jacobson.

Players to Avoid:

1. Mike Weir

Weir was supposed to bounce back this season from all of his struggles the last couple years, but to this point in the season nothing has gone right. That won't change this week.

2. Justin Leonard

Leonard has a great track record at this event, but he didn't fare well on the new course last year. His game isn't where it needs to be, either.

3. Paul Goydos

Goydos' track record at this event is very impressive, until you look at how he did on the new course last year. Goydos missed the cut at the new venue last year after earning four consecutive top-20s on the previous track.

4. Steve Flesch

Flesch finished in the top-10 here last year, but his game has only gotten worse the last 12 months. Flesch has made the cut only four times in nine tries this season on the PGA Tour.

5. Angel Cabrera

Cabrera played well last week at Augusta, but that was expected as he usually shows well there. This week, however, he's playing the Texas Open for the first time, and I can't imagine he'll bring the same intensity as he did last week.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week:
Valero Texas Open

Group A

1. Geoff Ogilvy
2. Martin Laird

Not exactly of lot to choose from in Group A this week. I like the way Ogilvy played last week, and his style should suit the course this week. Laird is the top performer in Group A this week, and that was the deciding factor as there weren't any other players who caught my eye from this group.

Group B

1. Spencer Levin
2. Bo Van Pelt
3. J.J. Henry
4. Tom Gillis

If this were a beauty contest, I would be disqualified. This might be the roughest looking group I'll put together all season, but there remains some potential. Henry and Levin are actually solid picks this week, and while the group as a whole looks pretty bad, there's some upside to each of the golfers. Van Pelt is coming off a nice showing at the Masters, and Gillis finished third here last year.

Group C

1. Adam Scott
2. Jimmy Walker

Unfortunately, three of my top five are in Group C this week, so I had to leave Jacobson on the sideline. Scott was the first one in, and the second pick came down to Walker or Jacobson. Walker's play this season made that somewhat of an easy choice, though.

Starters Round One

1. Geoff Ogilvy
2. Spencer Levin
3. J.J. Henry
4. Adam Scott

It doesn't get much easier than this. Some weeks I struggle with the starting four, and some weeks, like this week, everything falls into place. Ogilvy is coming off a good showing at the Masters and should carry some of that momentum into this week. Henry and Levin are clearly the best picks in Group B this week, so there's no reason to think about starting the other two. Walker looks like a good pick this week, but there's no way I can sit Scott on Thursday.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Although Ogilvy is the clear starter on my squad to open the week, he is a first-timer here, so if he struggles with the layout, I might have to get Laird in the starting line-up Friday. If Ogilvy starts well, there's a good chance that he's in there all four rounds this week. Henry and Levin could easily own the starting spots in Group B this week, but I'm expecting to get Van Pelt a start at some point. Henry likely will start Thursday and Friday while Levin has to play well Thursday to keep his spot for Friday. Gillis must be in contention on the weekend to find his way into the starting line-up. Scott is in control of Group C, but any sign of a letdown after a strong showing at the Masters and Walker is taking his spot. I don't expect a letdown, though, so Saturday is the most likely spot to start Walker.

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