This week we return to regular stroke play action. There are 144 players in the field in what is officially the last tournament on the PGA TOUR schedule before Augusta. It’s safe to say the top players will be heavily focused on getting their games fine-tuned for The Masters. As for who’s in the field this week, we have Rory McIlroy at the top of the betting odds (+750 DK Sportsbook), followed by Jordan Spieth (+1400) and Hideki Matsuyama (+1400)
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 2022. Some players in the field this week who need a win just to make it to Augusta, include Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler. The cut will take place after Friday, as per 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 7,400 yards but is often ranked as one of the tougher par 72s on TOUR. The conditions can also be extremely volatile thanks to the Texas wind. Over the past 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 among the field.
TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and has been the host of this event since 2010. The course sets up longer than average (for the PGA TOUR) at 7,494 yards and features a mix of tree-lined fairways and some open, almost links-style driving areas. There are four par 5s, but three of them come in right around 600 yards and none of them guarantee a great shot at birdie. Fairways 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. It should be noted, though, that two of the past three winners ranked 66th (Andrew Landry in 2018) and 78th (Spieth in 2021) 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 — and that also makes this a good warmup for Augusta. Greens in Regulation percentages are also 5 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 and Spieth gained +7.4 strokes on Approach for the week in 2021.
The course features four par 3s — three of which all come in well over 200 yards in length — and an additional five par 4s that will measure over 440 yards each, so good long iron play is essential, too. Targeting the players on the uptick in long iron play and scrambling is likely where your focus should be in the stat department.
2022 Outlook: This week should challenge players with some interesting conditions. The heat will be turned up as highs are expected to reach 90 degrees at some points. There’s no major storms or rain in the forecast, which is great news for the week before Augusta, but some Texas-style wind is slated to make an appearance or two. We should see gusts north of 10 mph on all four days with Friday afternoon looking like the windiest wave of the first four from Thursday and Friday. Saturday has gusts approaching 20 mph in spots as well, so early starters could make a move. Keep an eye on the weekend forecast and on Friday afternoon in case a potential wave advantage develops.
Last 5 winners
2021—Jordan Spieth -18 (over Charley Hoffman -16)
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)
- Of the past 10 Valero Texas Open winners, only five had recorded a top 10 or better in a PGA TOUR event in the same year before their win.
- Each of the past seven winners had played this event at least once prior and made the cut at TPC San Antonio in their last visit.
- Five of the past 10 winners of the Valero Texas Open were first-time winners on TOUR, and three of the past four winners were first-timers.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Jordan Spieth (18-under par)
2021 lead-in form (T48-T4-T15-T4-T3)
· The past four winners here have gained +12.9, +13.3, +12.5 and +14.4 strokes Tee to Green for the week of play. This course is about gaining on approach with longer to mid irons and scrambling well. The past four winners have all gained over +7.0 strokes on Approach en route their win.
· 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. Both Jordan Spieth (2021) and Kevin Chappell (2017) had posted recent top-10 finishes.
· 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 comparated 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 ($8,200; best finishes: win-2016, second-2011, 2019, 2021): Hoffman has a sterling record at the Valero Texas Open. Since the event moved to TPC San Antonio, he has nine finishes of 13th or better, including three runner-ups 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 ($7,600; 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 nine appearances, he has only missed the cut here once and has three finishes of eighth or better, including the aforementioned win in 2011.
3. Ryan Palmer ($8,000; best finishes: fourth-2016, sixth-2015): Palmer has made nine of 12 cuts at this event 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 past nine starts.
4. Corey Conners ($9,800; best finishes: win-2019, T12-2021): Conners won this event as a qualifier in 2019 and ranks second in this field in strokes gained total at the event since 2016. He finished T14 last year and has gained over +7.0 strokes ball-striking at this venue in each of the past two years.
5. Chris Kirk ($9,400; best finishes: T6-2021, T8-2018): Kirk has a couple of missed cuts at Valero on his record, but he’s also posted a handful of top finishes. The four-time PGA TOUR winner has finished in the top 15 at this event in three of his past five visits and gained over +6.0 strokes putting at this venue last season.
1. Corey Conners ($9,800; T7-T3): Conners is coming off a third-place finish last week at the WGC Match Play. He’s now gained over +3.0 strokes ball-striking in each of his past two stroke-play starts.
2. Kevin Streelman ($8,700; T34-T17-T10): Streelman has quietly started to show some form and has now finished inside the top 25 in three of his past four starts. He gained +7.4 strokes TTG in a T7 finish at the Valspar.
3. Adam Hadwin ($8,900; second-MC-T5): Hadwin has strung together back-to-back top-10 finishes. The Canadian finished T7 at the Valspar and has gained over +3.0 strokes on Approach his last two times out.
4. Sahith Theegala ($7,800; T2-T8): Theegala has had an excellent season to date, and has already posted four top-25 finishes. He’s coming off a T22 finish in Corales from last week.
5. David Lipsky ($6,900; T18-T3): The former European Tour winner has now made seven of eight cuts on the season and is coming off a T7 finish last week in Punta Cana. He’s playing TPC San Antonio for the first time this week.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Get up to Rory
The fact Rory McIlroy ($11,200) gave up an automatic cash opportunity last week to focus on his prep for Augusta should tell you all you need to know about where his head is at. He’ll be looking to get in four solid rounds this week and McIlroy had put together five straight top-15 finishes prior to his T33 at THE PLAYERS. Look for a bounce-back from him this week. Both Russell Knox ($8,300) and Charley Hoffman ($8,200) make for great mid-tier values to target this week too. Knox has played great this year (top 10 at THE PLAYERS and six made cuts in a row) while Hoffman’s course history this week is unmatched (see above). Other potential cash game targets include Adam Hadwin ($8,900) and Matthew NeSmith ($7,100).
Tournaments: Take a shot with Bryson
The fact that Bryson DeChambeau ($10,200) is in this field is a good sign he’s fully healthy (considering he played last week) and if he does find his stride quickly over the first two days, his salary will likely look like a bargain come Sunday. Bryson’s great from 200-plus yards and also still ranks first in birdie or better percentage over the past 50 rounds. Further down, American Luke List ($8,500) is someone else we should be looking at for a bounce-back. He’s finished in the top 10 at the Valero in years prior and ranks top 10 in birdie or better percentage in longer-term form as well. Other GPP targets this week include the likes of Mito Pereira ($8,100), Sam Ryder ($6,800), Danny Lee ($6,800 - see below), Kevin Chappell ($6,700) and Brandon Hagy ($6,300).
MY PICK: Tony Finau ($9,100)
This event has seen players walk in with little to no PGA TOUR form (Andrew Landry in 2018 and Corey Conners in 2019) and grab wins, which leads me to believe we shouldn’t just write off what appears to be a struggling Tony Finau this week. Finau hasn’t played well in 2022, having now missed three of his past four cuts. He did look like he may have found something toward the end of last week, though, after smoking Xander Schauffele 4 and 2 at the WGC Match Play on Friday. The now two-time PGA TOUR winner has been hit or miss at this venue during his career, but did post a T3 at TPC San Antonio back in 2017.
Despite the poor play of late, Finau still ranks top 10 in proximity from 200-plus yards — and from 150-175 yards — over the past 50 rounds, and gained +6.4 strokes on Approach just three starts ago at the Genesis. A flip in his short game should almost be expected soon given how well he was playing in the fall and at nearly $9K flat in this field, he’s well worth the risk for me, especially in an event that has seen plenty of shock winners. At +4000, he’s also worth a shot in the outright department on DraftKings Sportsbook.
MY SLEEPER: Danny Lee ($6,800)
If you play daily fantasy golf on the regular, you know Danny Lee is not the most trustworthy name. However, despite a rocky record over the past few seasons, he has always tended to do his best work in these weaker field events. He also has a great track record in the State of Texas, having posted multiple top 10s at TPC San Antonio and at Colonial, the site of another traditional Texas stop. Lee withdrew from this event in 2021, but finished T7 at TPC San Antonio in 2019, gaining over +7.0 strokes ball-striking for the week.
From a fit perspective, this venue does seem to play to his strengths too, as Lee ranks top 20 in proximity stats from 200-plus yards. It’s worth noting that his recent form isn’t terrible either, and he has putted well of late, which should help him on these faster greens — greens he has also had success on in the past. Lee’s made three cuts in a row (outside of a WD at THE PLAYERS) and gained multiple strokes ball-striking in his past two starts. He’s certainly talented enough to jump up in this weaker field and looks like a nice GPP target in daily fantasy golf this week on DraftKings, where he’s well below $7K and should be extremely low-owned.
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