If it's possible for the golf world to suffer from a major hangover, then that's what we witnessed last week at the Valero Texas Open. That's not a knock on the level or quality of play last week; just an observation on how seemingly anyone who's anyone in the golfing world, simply didn't show up last week. Adam Scott toyed with us for a few days, but in the end, his game, and maybe his heart, just wasn't in it. Can you blame him after the wild Sunday finish at Augusta? The PGA TOUR season is long (counting the Fall Season, it's longer than any professional sport), so there are bound to be weeks when there's just not a lot of excitement. The good thing about the season, however, is that the downturns in excitement don't last long. There are always going to be rough spots before and after majors, but there are plenty of non-major events that capture our attention. The stretch between the Masters and the U.S. Open is the longest span between majors all season. Luckily for us, we've got the Players and the Memorial during that time. Now that we are nearly two weeks removed from the 2011 Masters, the play from the top players will again start to pick up and capture our attention once again.
What the Valero Texas Open means:
Brendan Steele: Raise your hand if you had Steele pegged as your rookie of the year. OK, no one? Right then, well, after his win last week, he's well on his way to that honor, well ahead of some highly touted players such as Jamie Lovemark.
Mike Weir: Weir shot rounds of 79 and 83 last week, and it's time to wonder if he's done. Not if he's in a slump, but if his game is in fact gone - for good. It wasn't that long ago that Weir won the Masters, and it's hard to believe that his game could have fallen this far this fast, but this season has been an absolute disaster.
Adam Scott: Give Scott credit, he could have easily mailed it in last week after what he went through at Augusta, but he fought hard until the end, though it looked like he ran out of gas Sunday. Still, a top-25 isn't a bad showing the week after the Masters.
This week: The Heritage
Last Year: Jim Furyk shot a final-round 69 on his way to a playoff victory over Brian Davis.
Players to Consider:
1. Spencer Levin
Well before Levin was getting it done everywhere else, he was getting it done at Harbour Town. In his two starts here he's finished T13 and T14.
2. Boo Weekley
The last four years, no matter the state of his game, Weekley has come to play at Harbour Town. He won here twice when his game was on; when it was off, the past two seasons, he still managed two top-15 finishes.
3. Aaron Baddeley
Baddeley has played very well this season and has some good mojo at Harbour Town. He won here in 2006 and finished runner-up in 2008. He's also finished in the top-25 each of the last five years here.
4. Jim Furyk
Furyk had a surprisingly good showing at the Masters, where he doesn't usually play well, so there's hope that his game is returning. If that's the case, then he should be successful this week as he usually fares well here.
5. Bo Van Pelt
Speaking of surprisingly good showings at the Masters. Van Pelt came out of nowhere two weeks ago and nearly had enough to win the green jacket, but, like many others, came up just short. He's fared well here, so if he carries any of that momentum to this week, he'll end up in a good spot.
Players to Avoid:
1. Ernie Els
Els has a solid track record, but his last two trips here haven't been successful. His game appears off, as evidence by T47 at Augusta.
2. Ryuji Imada
Imada has teed it up here four times with little success. He's made the cut only once in those four tries, and that resulted in a T71.
3. Bill Haas
Haas is quickly becoming a dangerous player to avoid, but his track record here leads me to believe that he won't contend this week. Six tries and no top-20s.
4. Sean O'Hair
O'Hair finished in the top-10 here in 2007, but that result was sandwiched by two missed cuts. His inclusion on this list, though, is based more on his play this season, which has been well off.
5. Ben Curtis
Curtis has made the cut here in five of his six tries, but he has only one top-25 to his credit. Curtis made the cut last year and went on to finish T81.
Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:
This week: The Heritage
1. Jim Furyk
2. Luke Donald
The field is very strong this week, and as such there are plenty of strong options in Group A. I went with the defending champ and Luke Donald, who's finished T3 and runner-up here the past two years.
1. Spencer Levin
2. Bo Van Pelt
3. Davis Love III
4. Rickie Fowler
As strong as the field is this week, there doesn't seem to be a lot of strength in Group B. I like Van Pelt and Levin, obviously, as they are in my top-five this week, but I'm not totally sold on the other two picks. Fowler has the talent to win anywhere, so even though he has a limited track record here, he seems like the right pick. Love III has owned this venue, but that was a long time ago. Hopefully he can find the magic of yesteryear once again this week.
1. Aaron Baddeley
2. Jason Day
Baddeley was an easy decision to make, but the second player was a tough choice, not because I am concerned about Jason Day, but because I had to leave off Boo Weekley. Here is my reasoning: Weekley always plays well here, but his upside is limited when his game is off, which it is now. Day, on the other hand, almost won the biggest event on the planet two weeks ago, so there's no limit on his upside this week.
Starters Round One
1. Luke Donald
2. Spencer Levin
3. Bo Van Pelt
4. Aaron Baddeley
It's not often that I absolutely love my starting four, but that's definitely the case this week. Three of the four picks were fairly easy, but the toughest decision came in Group A where I decided to leave the defending champ on the bench for round one. I just have a good feeling about Donald out of the gate this week. Can't put my finger on it, but I'm going with it. Levin and Van Pelt are clearly the two best picks from my group of four this week, so both will start. Baddeley gets the nod in Group C based on his track record.
Round Two and Going Forward:
Group A should be very interesting this week as both Donald and Furyk have a shot to win. Hopefully, it plays out like it did last year with both players in the mix until the very end. I'll likely start Furyk on Friday this week to free up the weekend. Levin and Van Pelt each have a strong hold on the starting spots in Group A, and Love III or Fowler will have to force my hand. Fowler is probably the first one in, as even though Love III has the track record here, he's not exactly the most reliable player anymore. Group C will be up for grabs after Thursday, though Baddeley will have the slight edge if he starts well.