Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2022 Valero Texas Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC San Antonio.
2022 Valero Texas Open: Field
Field: 144 Players
Cut: Top 65 and Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday March 31
Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth
The field is almost set for the 2022 Masters in a week’s time, outside of one spot. Which is really the allure of the Valero Texas Open. Any player who has not previously qualified for the field at Augusta National can earn an invitation with a victory in San Antonio. Some may decide to group their picks this week based on “needing it,” but if you don’t think every player in the field wants to win, whether they need the status or money or not, you’re foolish. By that logic, no good players would ever win anything. Fortunately for those who need to win to earn a Masters spot, it’s not the most difficult field of the year. So, that should help.
Rory McIlroy headlines the field, along with defending champ Jordan Spieth, 2019 champ Corey Conners, Abraham Ancer, along with two injury question marks: Bryson DeChambeau and Hideki Matsuyama. Bryson returned for the first time since February at the Match Play last week and looked … rusty. He did appear to be healthy, however. Hideki is a complete wild card. After noting he was dealing with neck and back issues the day before THE PLAYERS he waited until lineups locked on DraftKings to notify the world he actually wasn’t going to play and promptly withdrew. He hasn’t been seen since. Until now. Of course, getting in a few competitive rounds before defending his Masters title is the main thing for him at the Valero, but it’s difficult to figure out whether or not this is a prime buy-low opportunity or one that leaves you in the lurch by noon on Thursday.
The second tier of talent is solid, but certainly not elite: Mav McNealy, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Si WOOOOO Kim, Jason Day, Luke List, Lanto Griffin, Patton Kizzire, Davis Riley, Kevin Streelman, Mito Pereira, Jhonny Vegas, Ryan Palmer, Chris Kirk, Adam Hadwin, Rickie Fowler and Mr. Valero Texas Open himself, Charley Hoffman. Hoffman’s been dealing with injuries (and bad press) so far in 2022, which has resulted in three missed cuts and no finish better than T67 in five full starts this year. That said, he’s 10/10 in made cuts at this course since 2011 with a win, three seconds (including the last two events at the Oaks course) and a third-place finish.
Beyond the PGA TOUR regulars, there are a bunch of international players making the trek to Texas to get some American warm-up reps prior to Augusta or to play their way into the field: Richard Bland, Robert MacIntyre, Min WOOO Lee, Ian Poulter, Takumi Kanaya, Lee Westwood, Rasmus Hojgaard, Guido Migliozzi, Henrik Stenson and Garrick Higgo.
2022 Valero Texas Open: Key Stats
- Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
- Opportunities Gained
- Driving Distance Gained
- Par 5s Gained
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2022 Valero Texas Open: Course
- Course: TPC San Antonio (Oaks)
- Yardage: 7,494
- Par: 72
- Greens: Champion Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis and velvet Bentgrass
2022 Valero Texas Open: Past Winners
- 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 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 (58%), 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 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 impactfully ever again. Don’t sweat it too much, but it’s worth taking a gander at the weather report before making any final decisions.
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 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.
TPC San Antonio annually has the toughest greens to hit in regulation on TOUR (58%), 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, though.
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.
Five of the past six 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 seven 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 seven times.
2022 Valero Texas Open: Picks
Gary Woodland ($9,300)
The shine has come off of Woodland since his consecutive T5s to kick off the Florida swing, but his T21 at the Valspar was actually closer to what we want to see from Woodland moving forward. He gained over four strokes on approach and over two from the green side. Get the driving back to normal levels, make a few putts and he can most definitely improve on his T6 at this venue from a year ago.
Luke List ($8,500)
The form has tapered off a tad since his breakthrough win at Torrey Pines, but it’s not like it’s been a disaster either. The irons finally went away at Riviera, marking the first time he’d lost strokes on approach since last year’s playoffs. But he quickly got that back at API the following week, gaining almost three strokes in just two rounds. He WD’d from THE PLAYERS after getting stuck in the awful weather draw and was OK in a tough group at the Match Play. The issue has been the return of the horrendous flat stick. He’s averaging -1.875 SG: PUTT per round in his past eight measured rounds. That’s bad, even for Luke List. Still, his price has completely bottomed out along with it. If you follow the fantastic Tee to Green numbers and pray for a lucky week on the greens, he can most definitely take down another victory at an excellent course for his skill set.
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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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