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Texas Open Preview: Holmes Field Advantage

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.

Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson. With his win last week at the RBC Heritage, Carl Pettersson joined this esteemed group as a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR. Why then is Pettersson relatively anonymous? Perhaps it's the timing of his five victories. His first came late in the 2005 fall season with a good portion of golf fans already checked out for the year. His third followed the PGA Championship and preceded the 2008 FedEx Cup playoffs by one week. His fourth win, in 2010, came the week following the British Open, and his most recent win came during the current Masters hangover. Only his second victory in 2006 at the Memorial occurred in full sight of the viewing public. Call it a curse if you will, for five victories at the highest level of the game should make a man more recognizable and garner much more respect. But then again I'm sure Pettersson has no problem gobbling up victories in the shadows of the majors. Besides, when was the last time you heard anyone ask Pettersson about his inability to win a major, as happens with Donald, Mahan and Johnson?

This week:
Texas Open

Last Year:
Brendan Steele shot a final-round 71 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman.

Players to Consider:

1. J.B. Holmes

Holmes is starting to find his old form as evidence by his top-10 at the Shell Houston Open earlier this month, and he's taken well to the TPC of San Antonio where he's finished T11 and T13.

2. Charley Hoffman

Hoffman is one of the few players in the field this week coming in hot and with a solid track record at this event. He scored a top-10 last week and has fared no worse than T13 here the last two years.

3. Matt Kuchar

With the lack of firepower in San Antonio this week, Kuchar's name jumps out. It matters not that he's never teed it up on this course in championship competition.

4. Colt Knost

Few players in the field this week have shining resumes at this event, which opens up the top-five to just about anyone. Knost does not have a good history here, but he's coming off a solid performance last week and some momentum could carry over.

5. Fredrik Jacobson

Jacobson is not in top form, otherwise he'd be higher on this list because his recent performance at this event is second to none. Jacobson finished T5 last year and solo second in 2010.

Players to Avoid:

1. Brendan Steele

Steele fired on all cylinders last year at this event, but he enters this week on a streak of three missed cuts, and the added pressure of defending isn't likely to help his game either.

2. Ricky Barnes

Barnes has really struggled this season and his game seems to be bottoming out. He missed the cut last week at the RBC Heritage, an event where he had a good record. He has no such record in San Antonio.

3. Joe Ogilvie

Few players in the field this week can claim they've missed the weekend each of the last two years here, but Ogilvie can. Not only has he missed the cut here the last two years, but he's been well off the cut line both times.

4. Ryuji Imada

Imada is having a terrible year and enters this week on a run of four consecutive missed cuts. He's made only two cuts this season and failed to crack the top-60 either of those weekends.

5. John Rollins

Rollins has been hit or miss this season with five top-20s and four missed cuts, and if his previous performance here is any indication, he'll be off again this week. Rollins has missed the cut both times on the current course.


This week:
Valero Texas Open

Group A

1. Matt Kuchar
2. J.B. Holmes

Only five players to choose from in Group A this week, luckily two of the top-five players in the field are a part of this group. At minimum, one of these two should end up in the top-five this week.

Group B

1. Fredrik Jacobson
2. Charley Hoffman
3. Mark Anderson
4. Chris Stroud

Not a lot of high-end talent in Group B this week, but two of the top five come from this group. Jacobson and Hoffman aren't exactly players on whom you'd count during a normal week, but with the light field this week, they are the best you are going to find. It gets pretty thin after the top-two players in Group B, so I'm going with two players who have played well the last month or so in Mark Anderson and Chris Stroud.

Group C

1. Colt Knost
2. Johnson Wagner

A bunch of intriguing options in Group C this week. Much of the separation between teams this week will take place because of the players in this group. I am going with Knost, who's in my top-five and Johnson Wagner who, unlike some of those intriguing options from this group, is capable of winning this week.

Starters Round One

1. J.B. Holmes
2. Fredrik Jacobson
3. Charley Hoffman
4. Colt Knost

Considering the makeup of the groups this week and how my top-five is evenly balanced throughout the three groups, the starting line-up for Thursday is pretty clear cut. The only decision to make is in Group A, where two of my top-five are present. I'm going with Holmes, however, as he has the better track record here. From there, it's a few easy choices, Jacobson and Hoffman in Group B and Knost in Group C.

Round Two and Going Forward:

As mentioned, Group A is the only group with a tough call Thursday, which likely means it will be tough to call all week. That said, I'll likely start Kuchar on Friday to free up the starts in Group A on the weekend. Jacobson and Hoffman have strong holds on the starting spots in Group B and it will take something special from either Anderson or Stroud to supplant either. While the decision on whom to start from Group C on Thursday was fairly easy, that same decision will be more difficult the final three days. If Wagner plays well Thursday, then I'll likely get in him the line-up on Friday to free up the weekend in this group as well.

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