Wow! What a special week that was down in Austin to see my guy Kevin Kisner win 6 straight against some of the world’s best and become a World Golf Champion. Cannot understate how pure of a golf course Austin Country Club is, and it is an ideal setup for Match Play given the high risk, high reward shots the course offers. Francesco Molinari continued his incredible run in Match Play, going 6-1 on the week as well. And how about the Danish unknown, Lucas Bjerregaard, making it all the way to the semifinals and taking out Tiger Woods in dramatic fashion along the way. The Match Play format is a great changeup, and I am already looking forward to next year. With that said, let’s shift gears back to stroke play for this week, and take a look at how I see the field stacking up in San Antonio.
Standard Disclaimer: For non-major Championships I will be ranking 12 golfers a week, and for the Majors I will be going 20 deep. I don’t rank for guys that I think will be in the mix, I rank solely on likelihood of winning the golf tournament. Thus, whoever I give the #1 spot to each week, is the guy I feel is most likely to reach the winner’s circle, and so forth down the list. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Rickie Fowler- First career appearance but I believe Rickie has become a player that can win anywhere and in any type of golf. These next 4-5 months are very important for him in taking the next step in his career, and I think this week could very well give him an added push. A course that should fit his eye.
2. Jordan Spieth- I know he didn’t advance out of the group stage but I saw something out of Mr. Spieth in Austin. Iron play looks to be back on point and he had the fire back. The 4-6 foot range with the putter continues to be one area where he has gone a bit mental, but if those distance putts start to be for birdie instead of par, maybe that will help him snap out of it.
3. Billy Horschel- Checks every box and more this week. Has been playing extremely consistent golf for a long time now, and has been right in the mix the last three trips to San Antonio. Knows how to play tough tracks well.
4. Tony Finau- Third place finish in 2017 at the Oaks course, and a player that has become dangerous in all sorts of different styles of golf. Last couple outings have not been his best, but don’t expect that to last long. A legitimate threat every week he tees it up.
5. Jim Furyk- Continued his rock-solid stretch of golf with his 2-1 showing at Austin Country Club. Jim senses that 2019 could be one of the last years where he can accomplish special things in this game, so the fire will be there every week.
6. Lucas Bjerregaard- What a wild week for Lucas last week in Austin, but I certainly don’t think it was a fluke. Fatigue is definitely a legitimate concern, but this is a man motivated to prove he can play elite golf in America. I wouldn’t bet against him.
7. Matt Kuchar- Would be higher on this list if he had not just played 7 matches in 5 days, but Kuch continues to exemplify consistency. Plenty of success here in the past, and he showed just how good of a ball-striker he can be in Austin.
8. Ryan Moore- Three top-20’s in his last four trips to San Antonio, as this is a course that really fits his shot-shaping eye. Quiet 2019 thus far, but given he his currently not in the field at Augusta, this week will have his full attention. When the wind blows, RyMo’s game excels.
9. Charley Hoffman- Arguably the King of the Valero Texas Open, as very few have had the success Charley has had in this event. Very sloppy start to 2019, but did finish inside the Top 20 in his most recent start at the Valspar. We all know what he will do next Thursday at Augusta.
10. Kyle Stanley- Have never been a huge fan of the Stanimal’s game, but this is a ball-strikers course and that has always been his strength. Worth a look.
11. Ryan Palmer- Very few know how to play Texas golf like Ryan Palmer, and he has had plenty of success at TPC San Antonio. Must win to snag a berth at the Masters, and that will be his sole focus this week.
12. Martin Kaymer- Wild card here with poor course history, but this is a man that has been trending in the right direction and we all know how badly he wants to change the narrative at Augusta. Kaym darn well may be primed.
With Augusta around the corner many will overlook this week and not give it much attention, but I expect most to be surprised come Sunday. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are two of the biggest stars in the game, and both will be motivated to play well with the Masters looming. TPC San Antonio is an underrated track and I expect a crunched leaderboard. Things will get weird down in Texas. Enjoy.