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Fantasy Golf Picks — 2023 Valero Texas Open Picks, Preview, Predictions

Pat Mayo makes his 2023 Valero Texas Open picks while previewing the course, key stats and trends for this week’s PGA TOUR event.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Valero Texas Open Picks.

Valero Texas Open Picks, Bets, DraftKings Notes

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2023 Valero Texas Open: Field

144 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make the Cut
First Tee: Thursday, March 29
Defending Champion: JJ Spaun

Only one more player can qualify for the 2023 Masters. And they need to win this week. The final invite into the year’s first Major will go to the winner of the 2023 Valero Texas Open, if he is not previously qualified. If the winner is already in The Masters field, the spot doesn’t shift to the second place finisher. Augusta invites aren’t participation ribbons.

Tyrrell Hatton and Hideki Matsuyama headline the field but both enter with question marks swirling around their health. Matsuyama withdrew from the Match Play a week ago with a neck injury. Presumably, the same neck injury which forced him to WD from this event a year ago. Hatton hurt his hand on the range before his opening match in Austin and proceeded to lose all of his matches in the Match Play. Since they’re both committed to the field, the presumption is that they’re medically fine to play, but it’s probably better to not to be weary of their upside in a week they may just be using to work out the kinks before The Masters.

Sepp Straka, Chris Kirk, Si Woo Kim, Ryan Fox, Corey Conners, Alex Noren, Cameron Champ, Francesco Molinari and Kazuki Higa are the only other players in the Valero field already qualified for The Masters. Higa is making his first start since the Hero Indian Open in February and first PGA TOUR start since the Sony Open. Ranked 81st in the world rankings, the 27-year-old Japanese Tour member enters with three straight Top-15 finishes across the DP World and Asian Tours, and he won the Dunlop Phoenix Open at the end of 2022 to earn his invitation.

Of the non-qualified players, Taylor Montgomery, Davis Riley, Nick Taylor, Matt Kuchar, JJ Spaun, Cam Davis, Thomas Detry, Trey Mullinax, Ben Griffin, Alex Smalley, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Andrew Putnam, Davis Thompson, Luke List and Rickie Fowler will headline the group competing for the final spot in the Masters field. And, of course, a giant payday that goes along with the win.

2023 Valero Texas Open: Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
  • Opportunities Gained
  • Driving Distance Gained
  • Par 5s Gained

Mayo’s Key Stats powered by

2023 Valero Texas Open: Course

  • Course: TPC San Antonio (Oaks)
  • Yardage: 7,494
  • Par: 72
  • Greens: Champion Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis and velvet Bentgrass

Par 3s (4): Average length (200.5 yards), Hole 13 measures 241 yards (fifth toughest on the course) and boosts this average.

  • Take your medicine. These are the four most par’d holes on the course (all over two-thirds of the time)

Par 4s (10): Average length (428.6 yards), we are all over the place here with 134 yards separating the shortest from the longest Par 4 on this course

  • The two shortest Par 4s carry a birdie rate north of 23% (one of which is Hole 17 which also has a bogey rate of just 8.5% … all reward, little risk)

Par 5s (4): Average length (587.5 yards), three of four surpass this average with the shortest Par 5 (Hole 14, 553 yards) being the easiest on the course with a birdie rate (42.3%) that rivals the par rate (47.2%)

  • There were more eagles on Hole 14 last season than on the other three Par 5s combined, so that is your must score hole. Hole 8 is over 600 yards and could be a difference maker: 20.4% birdie rate and 15.6% bogey rate.

2023 Valero Texas Open: Past Winners

  • 2022: JJ Spaun -13
  • 2021: Jordan Spieth -18
  • 2019: Corey Conners -20
  • 2018: Andrew Landry -17
  • 2017: Kevin Chappell -12
  • 2016: Charley Hoffman -12
  • 2015: Jimmy Walker -11

2022: J.J. Spaun (-13, two clear of Matt Jones and Matt Kuchar)

  • His opening 67 was his best round and he was the only golfer not to shoot worse than 70 on the week
  • Worth noting that the top-7 finishers all gained strokes on the field from the sand

2021: Jordan Spieth (-18, two clear of Charley Hoffman)

  • He shot 67 or better in three of four rounds and when it comes to beating Hoffman … Spieth was eight strokes better on Thursday
  • 14 of the top-16 finishers gained proximity from 175-200 yards (iron play all the way around: 9 of the top-11 finishers gained in both the 75-100 yard and 100-125 yard buckets.

2019: Corey Conners (-20, two clear of Charley Hoffman)

  • Consecutive 66s over the weekend, he was the only player with four rounds in the 60s
  • 7 of the top-13 finishers lost strokes around the green (all 13 of them gained strokes off the tee)

2018: Andrew Landry (-17, two clear of Trey Mullinax and Sean O’Hair)

  • The only player in the 60s for all four rounds, moving day was critical for the top of the board (all top-6 finishers shot 68 or better on Saturday, including a 62 from Mullinax to put pressure on Landry)

2017: Kevin Chappell (-12, one clear of Brooks Koepka)

  • Avoided the bad round (71 was his worst, five of the eight closest to Chappell carded a 73 or worse)
  • Seven of the top nine in terms of GIRs earned top-10 paychecks (Chappell and Koepka were two of the three best for the week in the category)

2023 Valero Texas Open: Notes

TPC San Antonio Oaks Course was designed by Greg Norman in consultation with Sergio Garcia and has been host to this event since 2010.

Since 2010, the front nine has played significantly more difficult. From 2010-2018, the field played the front nine +3,704 compared to just +730 on the back nine. In that same span, this event had more triple bogeys or worse (289) than all other courses except for TPC Sawgrass (338) and PGA National (323). That’s saying a lot considering TPC San Antonio only has three water hazards.

TPC San Antonio annually has the toughest greens to hit in regulation on the PGA TOUR (58%), along with Riviera CC, Harbour Town GL and TPC Southwind.

If you don’t know by now, Strokes Gained: Approach is the most influential stat at any course. It’s not necessarily predictive, insomuch that like anything in golf, a player can have a great approach one week and then completely lose it the next. Usually, SG: APP massively outweighs both SG: Off The Tee and SG: Around the Green by a large margin when looking back to see how the top finishers actually got to the top of the leaderboard. However, TPC San Antonio is one of the few courses where driving inches closer to overall importance. Now, driving isn’t quite as big of a factor as approaches, but this is about as close as you’ll see all year. Long and straight is what you want off the tee, but it turns out everyone isn’t Jon Rahm, so it’s better to be long than accurate. Only 56% of drives find the shortgrass anyway, which is below the PGA TOUR average (62%). It’s essentially the Bryson strategy from Winged Foot: If players are going to miss the fairway regardless, they may as well hit it as far as possible. With that extra distance, players can cut down on the number of long irons throughout the week and you won’t end up in a forest fury and make a 16 like Kevin Na. Just avoid the OB.

Yes, wind can play a major factor on this exposed course. The gusts at the 2015 event were the most impactful ever seen from an a.m./p.m. split perspective. That year, the morning wave had a scoring average of 78.61, almost four strokes worse than the afternoon wave (74.86). It caused seven players to withdraw over the first two rounds. That one round still has DraftKings players sweating the weather every week. Outside of an insane British Open weather swing, it’s doubtful we’ll ever see wind affect one side of the draw so impactful ever again. Don’t sweat it too much, but it’s worth taking a gander at the weather report before making any final decisions.

The cut line has not been under par any year the Valero has been contested at TPC San Antonio. At the wind-infused 2015 event, it was +7.

There are 74 bunkers littered across the course, three of the four par 3s are AT LEAST 207 yards, plus distance will assist in fostering birdies on the monstrous par 5s – three of the four par 5s are 591 yards or longer, taking more eagle chances out of play, and another that falls just under the 600-yard barrier. Generally, the easiest scoring holes on any course, two of the Par 5s at TPC San Antonio annually play over par. The Par 4 No. 17 is drivable, though.

Five of the past seven champions had a Top-30 finish the year before. The only two who didn’t — Steven Bowditch and JJ Spaun — have missed the cut in their previous starts at the Oaks course.

Five of the past eight winners made the Valero Texas Open their first PGA TOUR victory: Corey Conners, Andrew Landry, Kevin Chappell, JJ Spaun and Steven Bowditch.

Since play began at the Oaks Course in 2010, the third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win eight times.

DraftKings Notes

Streak: With Holes 1 and 9 being two of the three toughest on the course, stringing together birdies as you flip 9s isn’t going to happen much. That said, Holes 17, 18 and 2 are three of the five easiest, so back-to-front would seem to put you in a better position if you can be a part of the 11% that birdie Hole 1. Holes 7-8-10-11 all rank in the middle third in terms of difficulty, so you’re betting very much against the odds of finding three in a row when going from front-to-back.

2022: All four players that reached triple digits in DK points were priced under $8,000 with Spaun ($6,700) leading the charge

  • Three of the four most expensive golfers didn’t play the weekend.

2021: The top-2 DK scorers were both top-10 in DK pricing

  • Five of the next six top DK scorers were priced at $7,700 or cheaper

2019: Four of the top-7 DK scorers were priced at $7,000 or cheaper (Conners won at $6,400 and outscored second place by 34 DK points)

  • Balance was key … Kuchar was the highest scoring $10,000+ golfer and he finished 15th on the DK leaderboard.

2018: The average price of the seven top DK golfers on the week was $7,300 (min: Andrew Putnam at $6,500, max: Jimmy Walker at $8,200)

  • Three of the top six in DK pricing failed to make the cut

2017: Koepka was the only one of the eight most expensive golfers to finish top-13 in DK scoring (five of the top-9 scorers were priced under $7,500).

2023 Valero Texas Open Picks

Ryan Fox

A frigid flatstick sunk Fox’s chances of advancing at the Match Play, and while he’s no Prince Akeem, the New Zealander’s own version of coming to America has still been quite fruitful. He’s churned out Top-30 finishes in each PGA TOUR start, both elevated events; couple that with his three straight Top 20s on the DP World Tour before clearing customs and you have a string of excellent form. He’ll be one of the longer players in the field, which, along with his precision from 125 yards and in, makes Fox one of the clear favorites in San Antonio.


Matt Wallace

We’ve seen an amazing split in the Brit’s recent form between elevated and non-elevated events. In the Waste Management, Genesis and PLAYERS it was a rudimentary missed cut. At the Valspar, Honda and this past week’s Corales, all Top-30 finishes. He even started the year with consecutive Top 20s during the middle swing on the DP World Tour. Good thing for Wallace the Valero isn’t an elevated event. The irons and short game have been terrific, even in his missed cuts, it’s been a disastrous driver which have caused the majority of his problems. Not saying it’s fixed, but he’s now logged positive off the tee numbers in two straight events after dropping -1.58 SG: OTT/round over his 18 rounds previous. Plus, he’s gained off the tee in both his career Valero starts, one of which was a tie for his best career finish on the PGA TOUR — third in 2021.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.

Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.