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Golf Barometer: A Windy Sweep through Texas

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

The week after a major always feels like a letdown of sorts, but let's have a look at last week's windy sweep through Texas.

UPGRADE

Brendan Steele:
The Nationwide Tour alum wasn't doing much with his season until his victory at the Valero Texas Open, cashing in just 5-of-11 events before last week. Steele knows what to do off the tee - he's 25th in total driving - but the rest of the game is a work in progress (96th in GIR, 105th in putts per round). In medium and shallow leagues, I wouldn't bother with a pickup yet.

Charles Howell:
He's quietly in the middle of a fine season, cashing 9-of-11 times, including six finishes in the Top 20. He still gets wayward with the driver a little too often, but Howell makes up for it with dynamite iron play (14th in GIR) and a scoring average (14th) that's better than the sum of his component stats. Howell still has time to develop into a star on tour.

Bob Hope Classic:
This event has finally seen the light - it will switch from a five-day slog to a normal four-day, 72-hole event next season. With the exception of the Accenture Match Play Championship, tournaments aren't supposed to start on Wednesdays.

DOWNGRADE

Kevin Na:
The signature event from last week wasn't Brendan Steele's victory but rather Na's 16-shot meltdown on the par-4 ninth hole. To Na's credit, he somehow managed to play the back nine at three-under on Friday, and he didn't take the easy way out and withdraw Friday, but we've wondered about his mental makeup in the past and this new spot of ignominy might be hard to come back from, at least in the short term.

J.J. Henry:
He's in the middle of a solid season, but the winds of Texas had their way with Henry - after a tournament-leading 67 on Thursday, he threw a 78-77-74 mess at the field. It might take him a tournament or two to regain his full confidence.

HOLDING STEADY

Steve Flesch:
He didn't make it onto the tour until his early 30s (winning Rookie of the Year in 1998), so Flesch is older than you might suspect - he's staring at his 44th birthday next month. The quiet, likable lefty has cashed in four of his last six starts, including a T15 at the Valero Texas Open; maybe Flesch lives.

Rich Beem:
It was refreshing to see him bank $90K after six straight cuts missed, though he's broken 70 just twice the entire season. Beem's win at the 2002 PGA goes down as one of the all-time flukes of modern golf.

Justin Leonard:
He gutted out a respectable T30 at the Valero Texas Open, but can a player like Leonard survive in today's game? He's always chasing distance off the tee (165th in driving distance), and that puts a strain on his iron play (126th in GIR). The only thing that's bailing him out in 2011 is his nerves around the green; Leonard is 10th in scrambling.

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