This week, the field gets bigger with 150 or more golfers on the start list. While we lose some of the international talent we had last week, there will be a few elite faces teeing things up in Texas, including the likes of Tony Finau and Hideki Matsuyama. This is the last tournament before Augusta, so those names and a few other players will be looking to get their games fine-tuned for the Masters.
The rest of the field will be searching for FedEx Cup points or a breakthrough win that could book them a ticket to the first major of 2021. Some other interesting names in the field this week includes last week’s runner-up Scottie Scheffler, who moved into 22nd in the OWGR with his second-place finish at the WGC-Dell Match Play. Also playing this week are Jordan Spieth, Abraham Ancer and the VTO’s defending champion Corey Conners. The cut will take place after Friday, like usual, with the top 65 players and ties making the weekend.
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Par 72, 7,435 yards
TPC San Antonio is a long par 72 that plays over 7400 yards but is often ranked as one of the tougher par 72’s on TOUR. The conditions here in the past have been extremely volatile — the wind can really pick up on this open layout quickly. The last couple of years, the wind has stayed down and we’ve seen record scoring, with Corey Conners hitting 20-under par here in 2019. Despite the great week by Conners, it should be noted the course still played as the 12th-toughest venue on TOUR in 2019, so there was still plenty of carnage.
TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and has been the host of this event since 2010. The course sets up long — even for the PGA — at over 7,435 yards and features a mix of tree-lined fairways and some open, almost links-style driving areas. There are four par 5’s, but three of them come in right around 600 yards — none of them guarantee a great shot at birdie. Fairways here are narrow and driving accuracy stats are always well below TOUR average. However, going a bit off line generally won’t crush a golfer since the course plays wide open in many spots, too, and has almost no water on it. Though, it should be noted the last two winners here ranked 66th (Andrew Landry in 2018) and 12th (Conners -2019) in Driving Accuracy for the week of their win.
The Bermuda greens here are known to be tough, too — players have to navigate lots of sharp falloffs and contours. Greens in Regulation percentages here are also five to 10% lower than the average TOUR stop. Again, this tends to play into the hands of the best ball-strikers in the game — Conners led the field in GIR stats here in 2019.
The course features four par 3’s — three of which all come in well over 200 yards in length — and an additional five par 4’s that will measure over 440 yards each, so good long iron play is essential, too. Targeting the players on the uptick in both OTT and APP categories is especially key this week.
2021 Outlook: The weather this week doesn’t look overly inviting, with highs set to max out in the high-60 to low-70 range. We have seen high winds absolute destroy this event before (2015), but the wind is expected to back off a bit once the event begins on Thursday. While Wednesday has heavy winds in the 15-20 mph range, Thursday is set to see tamer stuff in the 10-12 mph range. It may even be a situation where Thursday afternoon ends up with lighter winds than Thursday morning, so be sure to check late Wednesday in case a wave split develops. The rest of the week looks steady, with 10-12 mph winds being the norm. Friday morning may offer a bit of a reprieve compared to its afternoon counterpart, though, so keep an eye on how the forecast develops.
Last 5 winners
2019—Corey Conners -20 (over Charley Hoffman -18)
2018—Andrew Landry -17 (over Trey Mullinex -15)
2017—Kevin Chappell -12 (over Brooks Koepka -11)
2016—Charley Hoffman -12 (over Patrick Reed -11)
2015—Jimmy Walker -11 (over Jordan Spieth -7)
- Of the last 10 winners at the Valero Texas Open, only five had recorded a top ten or better in a PGA TOUR event (in the same year) before their win.
- Each of the last six winners here had played this event at least once prior and made the cut here in their last visit.
- Five of the last nine winners of the Valero Texas Open were first-time winners on TOUR, and each of the last three winners here were first-timers.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner: Corey Conners (20-under par)
2020 lead-in form (MC-T41-MC-MC-MC)
· The last three winners here have gained +13.3, +12.5 and +14.4 strokes Tee to Green for the week of play. This course is all about striping the ball since most of those strokes were gained off the tee or on approach. Conners gained an insane +11.1 on APP in 2019, but both Landry and Kevin Chappell also gained over +7.0 strokes on APP in their wins.
· Since 2011, when the course moved to TPC San Antonio, the worst a winner has finished for the week in terms of Strokes Gained: Tee to Green is 11th — that was a quite unlikely winner in Ben Curtis in 2012.
· Conners came in with zero recent form in 2019, although he had been striking the ball well in his recent starts. That year was his second time playing Valero.
· One last note: while this course tends to play a bit long, driving distance has become less of a factor in recent years with both Landry and Conners ranking outside the top 50 in Driving Distance in the years of their win on TOUR.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Charley Hoffman ($9,200; best finishes: win-2016, second-2011, 2019): Hoffman has a sterling record at the Valero Texas Open. Since the event moved to TPC San Antonio, he has eight finishes of 13th or better, including two runner-ups (2011 and 2019) and a win in 2016. He gained +9.6 strokes here TTG in 2019 and hasn’t missed the cut here since 2010.
2. Brendan Steele ($9,100; best finish: win-2011, fourth- 2012): Steele is a former winner of this event and has a great overall record at TPC San Antonio. In eight appearances, he has only missed one cut here and has three finishes of eighth or better, including the aforementioned win in 2011. The American finished T42 in 2019 but gained +5.0 strokes ball-striking for the week.
3. Ryan Palmer ($9,400; best finishes: fourth-2016, sixth-2015): Palmer has made eight of 11 cuts here since 2009 and finished T6 or better at this event between 2015-2017. The veteran suits this longer par 72 quite well and has gained +7.0 or more strokes TTG here in four of his last eight starts.
4. Jimmy Walker ($6,100; best finishes: win-2015, fourth-2018): Walker won here in 2015 but also finished T4 here in 2018 and was T13 here in 2017. The Texas native has played well in this state over his career and leads the field in SG: TOTAL stats here over the last five years. He’s only made two of his last seven cuts though in 2021.
5. Ryan Moore ($7,900; best finishes: T3-2019, 2018-T7): Moore has really made the most of his starts at this event over the last three seasons. He ranks fourth in Strokes Gained: Total at this event over the last five years, despite only playing here three-times in that span. He finished T3 here in 2019 and has gained +7.0 or more strokes TTG here in each of his four career starts at the VTO.
1. Corey Conners ($9,500; T7-T3): Conners comes in with T7 and T3 finishes over his last two starts. He’s gained +12.1 strokes on his approaches alone over his last two starts and has only missed one cut now in his last 12 starts. He looks primed for a solid title defense.
2. Charley Hoffman ($9,200; T34-T17-T10): Hoffman fell back a little last week on Sunday, but he had been striking it great just prior. He’s gained +4.8 strokes or more on APP in three straight events now.
3. Scottie Scheffler ($10,400; second-MC-T5): Scheffler made a valiant run at the WGC-Dell Match Play last week but fell just short in the final match. He’s now bagged two top-5 finishes in his last three starts and has gained strokes on his approaches in five straight events.
4. Sam Ryder ($7,400; T2-T8): Ryder finished a solid T8 at The Honda Classic a couple of starts ago — where he gained +7.9 strokes TTG — and came close to grabbing a win in Punta Cana last week where he finished T2. He’s in great form and a dark horse to watch here.
5. Chase Seiffert ($7,100; T18-T3): Seiffert is on a great run right now, landing top-20 finishes in each of his last three PGA starts. He’s been lighting it up with his irons and gained +7.8 strokes on APP at The Honda a couple of weeks ago. This week marks his first Valero appearance.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Tournaments: Spieth, the Texas Wildcard
Jordan Spieth ($10,700) has been priced up here, to the point where he’s now the third-highest golfer in the field, salary-wise, and comes in more expensive than last week’s runner-up finisher. The venue may be a bit longer, but it does set up well for a player who is hitting his irons as crisply as Spieth is now. He finished runner-up here in 2015 and could be shunned a bit in GPPs this week due to the price increase. Further down, the likes of Harold Varner III ($7,900) and Ryan Moore ($7,900) have found success at TPC San Antonio over their careers but could be ignored here after a slow start to 2021. They’re solid upside plays. Other potential GPP targets include Doug Ghim ($7,300), Henrik Norlander ($7,100) and Doc Redman ($6,600-see below).
MY PICK: Sam Burns ($8,000)
This event has been kind to players searching for their first win over the past few years and Burns has been on the verge of breaking through for the better part of six months now. The 24-year-old is coming in off a couple of missed cuts but has also piled up two top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA starts. His T3 at Riviera was particularly significant since he was in the final group on Sunday there and only ended up a shot or two away from grabbing the win. Despite a couple of slow starts, Burns still ranks well in key categories — seventh in SG: Ball-Striking over the last 50 rounds and 18th in TTG stats.
Burns’ main issue of late has been around the greens, but we’ve seen past winners like Conners and Chappell get by here with sub-par ATG games. It feels like Burns is someone else who could replicate that feat. He’s played Valero twice before and finished a solid T23 here in 2019, gaining strokes in all the major categories. Armed with some good experience from earlier in the year and now in a weaker field than he’s seen his past couple of starts, Burns should bounce back here and makes for a good fantasy target and outright betting selection at +5500 on DraftKings Sportsbook for me this week.
MY SLEEPER: Doc Redman ($6,600)
Redman was the fancy of many daily fantasy players last season when he piled up a couple of big results over the summer and fall of 2020. The 23-year-old has displayed some great ball-striking talent in his short time on TOUR but does come into this week’s event in a bit of a slump. He’s now missed five of his last seven cuts and has just a T66 from the API last month to show as his best result in 2021. His results have been poor, and his main issue has been on the greens, where he’s lost -2.0 or more strokes putting in four of his last seven starts.
Recently, though, he seems to have found some confidence with his putter, gaining strokes on the greens in each of his last two starts — one of which resulted in a made cut at Bay Hill, just his second of the season. It’s not much to go off, but long-term you’d think a venue like TPC San Antonio might be a good fit for a player who has shown he can light up courses which demand elite iron play. The small break he’s been on could help, plus the recent uptick in his putting could also be enough to get him going here. I like him as a low-owned GPP target this week in a field which doesn’t offer a ton of appealing punt plays.
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