Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.
This week’s tournament: Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.
Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com’s FOREcaster page.
Horse for the Course
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Pat Perez
He earned his first top-10 of 2011 at this event; in 2010 he tied for 22nd. Not bad for his first time at the new course. Most surprising to me is a guy who drives a Ferrari having success at a tournament that gives players pickup trucks as courtesy cars for the week. Look for Perez to get his 2012 tour legs starting this week at Valero.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Justin Leonard
No one in the field is more comfortable playing in the Lone Star State than Leonard, a 39-year-old Dallas native and three-time winner of the Valero Texas Open. At 7,435 yards, the AT&T Oaks course at the TPC San Antonio might be a lot of golf course for the short-hitting former British Open champion, but he knows how to win in his home state.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Brendan Steele
This is just the third year for the tournament at TPC San Antonio, and Steele won last year in his first appearance.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Cameron Tringale
In securing a T-5 at TPC San Antonio last year, Tringale posted one of his career-best finishes. He’ll likely have to roll the rock like he did last year, though, if he wants to earn that first PGA Tour victory. That’ll be tough, because he made nearly 400 feet worth of putts during four rounds in 2011.
Michael Collins: John Rollins
He’s 19th in birdie average, 31st in driving distance and 26th in greens in regulation, so it seems the only area where he’s lacking is his strokes-gained putting. Don’t feel bad; I’m still in my second class (I failed the first one) to figure out what SGP actually is, too. I’m forgiving his missed cut last year because of his side of the draw. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Farrell Evans: Boo Weekley
This 37-year-old country boy from Milton, Fla., didn’t have a great finish last week with a 2-over-par 73 on Sunday in Hilton Head, but he earned his second top-10 of the season. After Weekley battled injuries that started after he played in the 2008 Ryder Cup, his game is finally coming back into form after a long slump.
Bob Harig: Boo Weekley
There have been some recent signs of life from Weekley, who lost his PGA Tour card last year. He was in contention last week at the Heritage, giving himself far more chances, although his putter again let him down.
Kevin Maguire: Kevin Na
This is the course where Na carded a 16 (yup, that’s not a typo) on the par-4 ninth hole last year. But he’s playing well of late and has had three straight finishes of T-12 or better.
Michael Collins: Jordan Spieth
I’m thinking that as long as this kid stays in school, he’s going to play great in PGA Tour events. In 2010, as a junior in high school, he was tied for seventh going into Sunday at the Byron Nelson, then last year, at the same event, he started Sunday 3 shots off the lead and played with eventual winner Keegan Bradley. Did I forget to mention it’s only tour events in Texas he should play?
Farrell Evans: Harris English
English, a 22-year-old rookie out of the University of Georgia, has been lurking around leaderboards all year. But he hasn’t been able to put together four really good rounds. This could be his breakout week.
Bob Harig: Justin Leonard
The native Texan has had this on his schedule nearly every year and won it twice when it was played at a different venue. Leonard is not having a great year, with just one top-10. But perhaps Texas will get him going.
Kevin Maguire: Duffy Waldorf
He finished T-2 last week on the Nationwide Tour, and just like age, the golf ball doesn’t know what tour you’re playing. If your game is solid, you’ll post good scores.
Michael Collins: Kevin Streelman
Another success story straight from the mini tour through Q-school in 2007, he’s been slowly but surely progressing nicely on the PGA Tour since his rookie campaign of 2008. His progress is ready to peak this week at a golf course that fits perfectly into his style of play.
Farrell Evans: Matt Kuchar
The laid-back former U.S. Amateur champion racks up so many top-10s that it’s easy to forget he’s won only three times on tour. But as the top-ranked player in the field at 15th in the world, he has an excellent opportunity to beat a good but not star-studded lineup in San Antonio.
Bob Harig: Matt Kuchar
A first-timer at TPC San Antonio and coming off a poor final round at Hilton Head, Kuchar is the highest-ranked player in the field. He finished in the top 10 in his previous four starts, including a tie for third at the Masters. He’s due for a victory.
Kevin Maguire: Matt Kuchar
The three-time PGA Tour winner looks to get his first win since the 2010 Barclays. It’s not that he hasn’t been close, as he’s had 13 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour since then.