Each week on the PGA Tour several stories appear then disappear, but it isn't until Sunday afternoon that the true lead story is usually revealed. It makes for a nice pattern when trying to figure out what to write about the following Monday, but what do you do when the same story keeps popping up time after time? I'm speaking, of course, of the failure of leaders to close on Sunday.
Two Sundays ago it was John Senden, who was fortunate to sink an incredible chip shot on the 71st hole to regain his bearings, but nonetheless, he struggled mightily for most of the day while in the lead. Last Sunday it was Adam Scott who struggled to hold a 54-hole lead. Scott's problems on Sunday are a little more disturbing, though, as virtually nobody thought Scott would fall apart, yet there he was, struggling to get anything going, just like all the golfers who preceded him.
This epidemic goes way beyond Scott and Senden, though. It seems that anyone with a lead this season has failed or, at minimum, struggled to hold onto a lead. Of the few players who have actually held onto a 54-hole lead this season, none have done so in fashion. There have been two ways that golfers have won on the PGA Tour this season, they either hung on for dear life or came from behind. If this trend continues we'll have to, as they say, "bury the lede," as one can only write about the same subject so many times. That or somebody, anybody, could take hold of an event and play with some confidence on a Sunday afternoon. Now that would be something to write about.
This week: Valero Texas Open - JW Marriott, TPC San Antonio, San Antonio
Last Year: Martin Laird shot a final-round 63 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Rory McIlroy.
Players to Consider:
Hoffman is quietly having a pretty solid season and enters this week off consecutive top-25s. His track record here, though, is why he's atop the list this week. Hoffman has finished in the top 15 at this event every season since the venue change in 2010. Within that span he's finished inside the top 5 twice.
Jacobson struggled out of the gate this season, but he's really picked up his game the last month. Jacobson enters this week on a string of three consecutive top-20s, and his track record at this event is solid as well. Jacobson finished runner-up here in 2010 and followed that with a top-5 the next year.
Laird is not having a great season, but he's played well enough that another strong finish here, where he won last year, is not out of the question. In his two starts on this course Laird has a win and T9. That qualifies as a pretty solid track record.
Tringale is playing fairly well this season. He enters this week 55th on the FedEx Cup rankings, but he's on this list because of his play at this event since 2010. He did miss the cut last year, but prior to that carded consecutive top-10s here.
Don't look now, but Holmes might actually be back this time. He's struggled in his return from neck surgery a couple years ago and has shown some flashes before, but a top-10 at the Arnold Palmer last week has us thinking he might actually be getting ready to make a move. He has two top-15s on this course, so if he is indeed back, it should show this week.
Players to Avoid:
Curtis won this event just two years ago, but his game has gone south since. Curtis' best finish of the year came last week at the Arnold Palmer, but that was only a T44. Perhaps he's on the way back, but considering his entire body of work this year, he's just too risky to pick this week.
It is still early, but maybe Cauley isn't going to bounce back this year. He is coming off his best performance of the season, a T29 at the Puerto Rico Open, but that was against the PGA Tour Triple-A squad. Maybe that top-30 will give Cauley some confidence and he can get it together, but whatever the case, he's not a good pick this week.
This isn't so much a pick against Johnson, more of a heads up that his track record here is deceiving. Johnson is a two-time winner at this event, but not on this course - that's a big distinction. Johnson might be a decent pick this week, but he's not a typical two-time winner considering the venue change.
With all the talk of Matt Every being a "Big Break" alumni member, Gainey's name predictably entered the discussion again last week. That's as far as it should go concerning Gainey this week, though, as he's really struggled on this course with three missed cuts in three tries.
Much like Johnson's inclusion on this list, Mickelson is here because of a reason other than his potential performance this week. In Mickelson's case, he's here because in a one-and-done format, this is simply not the place to use him. He hasn't played this event on the current course, and with the Masters right around the corner and Tiger Woods in question, it's probably best to save Phil for a later date.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Bubba Watson (WD - allergies) - $0; Season - $1,837,828
This week: Charley Hoffman - There are some big names in the field this week, but none has a strong track record, so I might as well go with someone a little off the radar. Hoffman is playing well coming in and definitely knows this track well, so he becomes the best option this week.
Group A: Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar
Group B: Martin Laird, Freddie Jacobson, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk
Group C: Charley Hoffman, Cameron Tringale
Last week: Kevin Na; Streak - 3
This week: Charley Hoffman - I avoided disaster last week by not doubling-up on Bubba, but I'm going back to the well with Hoffman this week. There's just no foreseeable scenario where Hoffman doesn't make the cut this week.