Expert Picks: Valero Texas Open


This week the PGA Tour heads to San Antonio, where players will need to win in order to make the field for the season's first major, now just one week away. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They will also be joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest throughout the fantasy season.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: He finished T-13 last year and has the most solid history of any player in Group 1. This season, Kuchar won the WGC-Match Play but has a total of five top 25s on the PGA Tour, including a T-14 finish in his last start at the Tampa Bay Championship

Group 2: Freddie Jacobson: Last year he finished T-18 at Valero, with a T-5 in 2011 and 2009 along with a runner-up finish in 2010. Recently, he boasts five straight top-25 finishes. The only other player I'd consider in this group is Cameron Tringale. Both have great history here, but the edge definitely goes to Freddie.

Group 3: Brendan Steele: The past champion finished T-4 in his title defense last year. He's due for a good finish this season, with his sole top-10 finish coming when he tied for sixth in Phoenix.

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: He's been grinding to good finishes via Monday qualifying lately, with top-25s in his last three starts.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: A late edition into the Texas field, the Ulsterman is just looking for signs of progress before heading to the Masters. From lowered expectations come great things.

Group 2: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano: Spaniard has stopped surprising observers following top-10 finishes at Bay Hill, Dove Mountain and Abu Dhabi to start the season.

Group 3: Ross Fisher: His first year as a PGA Tour member has been uneventful, but the Englishman is seasoned enough to change that.

Group 4: John Daly: We know, it's always feast or famine with the big guy, but in Group 4 you're looking for a flier and 'Long John' would be the ultimate long shot.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Being near the bottom of the standings, I need a guaranteed paycheck and Kuch is money in the bank.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: Slowly putting himself on the short list of best players without a win, before hopefully taking himself off of it. 

Group 3: Brendan Steele: Past champion has an exemplary record in San Antonio and has the patience needed to handle this course.

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: Slim pickings in Group 4, but the Augusta native is quietly having a nice year so far.