Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2021 Valero Texas Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC San Antonio.
2021 Valero Texas Open: Field
2021 Valero Texas Open Field
144 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make the Cut
First Tee Time: Thursday, April 4
Defending Champion: Corey Conners
Any player who has not yet earned an invitation to that somewhat noteworthy tournament at Augusta National next week will have one more shot this week. It’s easy: Win the 2021 Valero Texas Open, get a spot in the 2021 Masters field. That’s exponentially more simple than trying to decipher the different scenarios for players moving on from the group stage last week at the Match Play.
The Match Play did result in a positive field change for this event, though. After winning a playoff against Patrick Cantlay late Friday, Brian Harman advanced past Bubba Watson in the Round of 16 before getting sent packing in single elimination. Advancing to the final eight was just enough to lift Harman inside the Top 50 in the world rankings (No. 49), thus earning him an invitation to The Masters. Thus, Harman withdrew from this week’s event. Normally, when one of the top players drops out it’s a huge shift for the worse in field strength. Not this time. After getting Kevin NA’DDDDDDD on Friday and bounced from his group, Dustin Johnson decided to enter the Valero. He’s now the overwhelming favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook. (Or not, DJ decided to WD after the late entry on Monday afternoon. What a nice run.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the Valero Texas Open field.
At the top end of the field will be Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler, Si WOOO Kim, Ryan Palmer, Lanto Griffin, Matt Wallace, Sebastian Munoz, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar, Bernd Wiesberger, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Cameron Tringale, Chris Kirk, Sam Burns, Cameron Davis, Andrew Putnam, Harold Varner III, Lucas Glover, Tom Lewis, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Denny McCarthy, Branden Grace, Danny Willett and Cameron Champ at the top end. A much stronger field than you’d expect to see at the Valero Texas Open.
Beyond Conners, past winners Andrew Landry, Kevin Chappell, Zach Johnson, Brendan Steele, Charley Hoffman, Jimmy Walker and Martin Laird are in the field too.
Then there’s Rickie Fowler. Win and you’re in. That’s the scenario for Fowler this week. Down to No. 94 in the world rankings, Rickie is going to need to borrow some magic beans from his pal Jordan to avoid missing a trip to Augusta for the first time since 2010.
Henrik Stenson is also playing. He’s missed every cut since coming to America for the Florida swing. It hasn’t been pretty either.
Sponsor exemptions include Sam Bennett, Austin Eckroat, Mac Meissner of SMU and Akshay Bhatia. Eckroat was T12 at Mayakoba in the fall; Bhatia was T9 at the Safeway in September and was in the mix entering the weekend at Pebble Beach earlier this season.
2021 Valero Texas Open: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Driving Distance Gained
Par 5s Gained
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2021 Valero Texas Open: Course
Course: TPC San Antonio (Oaks)
Greens: Champion Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis and velvet Bentgrass
2021 Valero Texas Open: Past Winners
2019: Corey Conners -20
2018: Andrew Landry -17
2017: Kevin Chappell -12
2016: Charley Hoffman -12
2015: Jimmy Walker -11
2014: STEVEN BOWDITCH -8
2013: Party Marty Laird -14
2012: Ben Curtis -9
2011: Brendan Steele -8
2010: Adam Scott -14
2021 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 Oaks course has the second toughest greens to hit in regulation (57.7%), trailing only Riviera CC (57.4%). The front nine historically plays 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.
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.
Yes, wind can play a major factor on this exposed course. The gusts at the 2015 event were the most impactful ever seen from a DraftKings 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 year, too. 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 impactfully ever again.
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 Dustin Johnson, so it’s better to be long than accurate. Only 57% of drives find the shortgrass anyway, below TOUR average (61%). 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 like Kevin Na. Just avoid the OB.
TPC San Antonio annually has the toughest greens to hit in regulation on TOUR (~57%), along with Riviera CC, Harbour Town GL and TPC Southwind.
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, however.
In 2019, Lucas Glover (T14) was the only player in the Top 15 to lose strokes off the tee and it was jusstttttttt in the minus (-0.1 SG: OTT). In 2018, Jimmy Walker (T4) was the only player to do it. Someone named Zach Fischer (-2.3 SG: APP; T14) was the only member of the Top 20 to drop strokes with his irons.
Four of the past five champions had a top-30 finish the year before, and every winner (except Steven Bowditch) had made the cut at this event in his start directly prior to winning.
Four of the past six winners made the Valero Texas Open their first PGA TOUR victory: Corey Conners, Andrew Landry, Kevin Chappell and Steven Bowditch.
Since play began at the Oaks Course in 2010, the third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win six times.
2021 Valero Texas Open Picks
Abraham Ancer ($9,700)
Hey Abe, make a putt, OK? Once again let down by a wonky flat stick at the Match Play, I may just be sticking it out with Ancer until he crosses the finish line. The ball striking is too good and eventually, these putts are going to fall, right? RIGHTTT?????? He really fits the mold of winners at this course over the years, too. Great ball striker, solid in the wind and looking for his first career PGA TOUR victory.
Cameron Davis ($8,800)
The Texas events have historically been very kind to Australian players, and Davis may just be rising again. For the past year, Davis’ driving has been carrying him, and when the rest of his game decides to show up, then he’s cashing big paydays. Strangely, starting at Riviera, for three straight events his driving went into the tank. He corrected that at the Honda Classic, though, gaining +3.2 SG: OTT, far more in line with what he’d been doing since the COVID restart. The irons have been fine, and Davis still ranks ninth in this field in driving distance gained over the past 36 rounds despite some driver struggles.
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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 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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 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.
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