There is now a lull in the golf season between the US Masters and Players Championship. The theme of the Texas Open on the PGA Tour and the Trophee Hassan 11 in Europe is the regular venues for these events which means there is plenty of course form to assess. On that basis defending champions Kevin Chappell and 2017 runner-up Paul Dunne should be on your shortlist for the respective tournaments.
There are three major factors in identifying potential contenders for golf tournaments:
Some players are suited to narrow courses on which there is a premium on accuracy over distance while others excel when distance is more important than accuracy. Golf is a confidence game and players take good form from week to week. However, at some stage mental and physical fatigue kicks in and the desire is lost. Putting, driving and scrambling are key skills and in this context golf is a horses for course sport.
The Texas Open is being played at TPC San Antonio which is a par 72 track measuring over 7,400 yards. The course is not overly long but the par 5s are above average in length. The shortest long hole is 567 yards so hitting the greens in two shots will be difficult. However, the longer drivers will be in better shape to set up eagle and birdie opportunities. The rest of the course is relatively short. Chappell won with a score of 12 under last season so bogey avoidance was a key skill.
The Trophee Hassan 11 is being played at Royal Gold Dar Es Salam. It has the rare par of 73 and measures over 7,600 yards. There are five par 5s including the final hole where there could be plenty of swings. The par 5s all measure less than 5,900 yards so more players will be finding the greens in two shots. There is a bigger potential for eagles at Dar Es Salam than San Antonio. Last season the winning score was nine under so the tournament is not a glorified putting contest.
In an open heat Sergio Garcia is the market leader for the Texas Open. He is the only major champion in the top 20 in the betting but looks a false favourite. The defence of his Masters title did not go well with a score of 13 on one hole in his first round. Marriage and parenthood may have given him a new perspective and he has won his major. Garcia could be content on the course to enjoy playing golf without the intensity of trying to prove himself.
Paul Dunne is the favourite for the tournament on the European Tour and he is a potential winner this week. He wasn’t beaten over 72 holes by another player last year but lost in the playoff to Edoardo Molinari on the first extra hole. He made the big mistake of bogeying the par 5 18th which meant Molinari took the title with a par. Despite that setback Dunne has positive associations with the Morocco course and can go one better this week.
Defending a title can be tough as the winner from last year has duties away from the course which can get in the way of playing and practising. However, Chappell will have happy memories of the Texas course and can contend again. He has the advantage of knowing the layout suits his game and will be comfortable in the environment. Chappell can go back-to-back and Dunne can win on a course that fits his eye. Course from is the overriding factor this week.