This week the tour begins its Texas swing, as the players head to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open. Last week saw an abundance of birdies and eagles as the course played much easier than it did in previous years. The course this week is the TPC San Antonio which was has acted as the host course since 2010 for this event. TPC San Antonio has traditionally played very tough. It is a par 72 and plays at 7400 yards, but has ranked as one of the toughest par 72’s the players visit every year. Birdies will be hard to come by.
TPC San Antonio was designed by Greg Norman and really penalises players who are off-line on their tee shots. The course is also very open and offers little in protection from the wind. Because it is in Texas, wind is often a factor here and makes the play very difficult. Last year’s winning score was a mere -8 and most years the scores have failed to hit double digits. These sorts of tough scoring conditions have really seemed to favor players who can stay out of trouble and avoid the big numbers. Looking at the leaderboards and winners from the past few years we see players who rely on accuracy and short games—rather than pure power—having a lot of success.
As a result I’ve focused on total driving, driving accuracy and scrambling as key stats this week. Limiting damage when you hit it into the Texas shrub and ensuring your drives off the tee are straight more times than not seems to be the key to success here. Additionally, players used to open-exposed courses and windy conditions should not be overlooked this week.
DraftKings is offering a 27$ 100k guarantee tournament this week and has plenty of other tournaments with a variety of buy-ins for you to choose from. Additionally, we are now two weeks out from the first major of the year, the Master’s. Now is the time to start making your team for the DraftKing’s PGA Millionaire Maker so you can become the first fantasy player to make a million dollars playing fantasy golf.
DraftKings Valero Texas Open Picks
Top Shelf (10k and above)
Jim Furyk (11000): It’s hard to argue against using Jim Furyk in DFS PGA regardless of the course or circumstances. But this week we see even more incentive than usual to play him. Furyk is almost always near the top of the tour in driving accuracy and scrambling, and those two stats might be vital for success at TPC San Antonio this week. Furyk also seems taken with the course given that he was 6th last year and 3rd the year prior in his only two appearances. Using Furyk this week seems almost automatic, but I’m hoping many will stay off him due to his high price. I would recommend using him in all formats.
Zach Johnson (10100): Like Furyk, Johnson relies on accuracy and a decent short game to score. He’s proven in the past that his accurate approach game can be just as deadly on par 5’s as the power game the bigger hitters rely on. Johnson’s game looked to be in top gear last weekend as he ended the tournament with one of the best rounds and even holed-out once to make an Albatross. He finished 6th here last year in tough conditions. He’s playing better as of late and I could see him winning in this field, especially if the wind gets up.
2nd Tier (8000-9900)
Martin Kaymer (9800): Kaymer represents the perfect gpp play for me this week as I believe many will be put off by his lack of recent top finishes and non-history at this course. Having won two majors already, Kaymer is the class of this field and should not be intimidated by tough conditions. Kaymer also has a low natural ball flight that could really help him should the wind get up here this week. I could see this course being the perfect fit for Martin Kaymer and in truth he is likely very hungry to make up for some blown opportunities earlier in the year over in Europe. Expect him to contend this week and take advantage.
Brendon Todd (8900): Todd has a lot of stats in his favour this week. He’s a very accurate driver and is generally one of the best on tour around the greens. Moreover, Todd seems to be very comfortable playing in tough, windy conditions. He played well earlier in the year at Pebble Beach and posted a 6th place finish here last year in even tougher conditions. Todd had one of the best closing two rounds in the field last year and I expect this will give him a ton of confidence as he returns this week. He’s putting much better as of late and if he gets hot, watch out.
Brendan Steele (8800): I’m not getting off the Brendan Steele bandwagon just yet. Steele had an awful final round at Bay Hill last week but has generally played extremely solid golf thus far this season (6 for 6 in cuts made). Steele loves the course this week. He won this event in 2011 and posted a 4th in 2012. Steele needs a victory in order to qualify for the Masters and given how well he’s played thus far this year I can see him being extremely motivated to accomplish that task. He’s not priced nearly as cheap as last week, but I’m still giving Steele one more chance to get me a big finish in Texas.
Matt Jones (8400): Matt Jones already has one win in the state of Texas and I expect he might challenge for his second one this weekend. Australians have had a lot of success on this course (it was designed by Greg Norman who is an Aussie) and I could see Jones contributing to that trend this week. Jones has been playing brilliantly around and on the greens as of late. He’s generally a solid ball striker and if he stays out of trouble should be able to take advantage of some scoring opportunities as a result. Jones has finished in the top 15 in his last 3 tournaments, I think he keeps that streak going this week at a course that should suit him.
3rd Tier (6000-7999)
Russell Knox (7600): Knox is in the midst of a very solid stretch of golf. He’s made his last three cuts on tour while landing 29-33-3 place finishes. He’s also made the cut in all three trips to this event and seems like an excellent fit for this golf course. Knox has proven himself in tough conditions by nearly winning the Honda Classic on two separate occasions. As with many of my other choices, Knox is a straight hitter and one who carries an above average short game as well. Knox is getting close to a Master’s invite, but would need a huge week here to land one. I see him as being very motivated and possibly even pulling off an upset to win this week.
Brendon de Jonge (7000): de Jonge’s proven himself to be a very consistent player, even if he doesn’t always end up as high on the leaderboard as he should at times. He’s made 6 of his last 7 cuts on tour this year and has also made the cut at this event all four times he’s played it. For his price I can think of no better player to rely on to get you four rounds of play this week. He’s an accurate driver who played very well in windy conditions earlier this year in Puerto Rico so he should be able to handle whatever weather comes his way. For de Jonge’s price-tag he makes for one of the best value plays on the board.
John Peterson (6500): Peterson’s a young player who has recently begun to make some serious strides on tour. He’s made 6 of 7 cuts this year and seems to be on the verge of fulfilling the talent he showed as a youngster on the web.com tour. Peterson is a Texas resident so I doubt he will be fazed by the conditions this week whatever they are. He ranks 29th in driving accuracy for the year and by all intents and purposes has been striking it beautifully. I think this week really sets up for a Peterson breakthrough of sorts and we could see him land his first top ten of the season. He’s another great value play under 7000.
Danny Lee (6400): Lee is a Texas resident who I am banking on this week for a couple different reasons. First, he’s been on fire as of late having posted 17th and 7th place finishes in his past two tournaments. Lee has also had success at some other wind exposed courses, having posted a 2nd place finish at the Puerto Rico Open in 2014. Given Lee’s talent and the fact this is essentially a “home game” for him this week I’m ignoring his poor history at this event and recommending you use him on some teams. It’s quite possible he picks up his first tour win this weekend and becomes the gpp play of the week.
Bottom Feeders (under 6k)
Chesson Hadley (5900): Hadley is last year’s rookie of the year on tour. He won the Puerto Rico Open and nearly repeated the victory again this year in even windier conditions. Given that he has proven himself in such harsh conditions on a similarly styled course I think Hadley makes for a very decent value play this week for under 6000 in salary. Hadley played here last year and made the cut and should be able to build on that experience. He’s someone I would look to use, especially if the weather conditions start to look bleak.
Adam Hadwin (5700): Hadwin is yet another player who relies on accurate driving and the ability to grind out a tournament. He won multiple times on the web.com tour last year and was leading the Puerto Rico Open this year after the third round. This course should suit Hadwin’s game and he’s recently taken to twitter to communicate how much better his swing has been feeling. I think he could make for a very low owned, very valuable punt play this weekend.
I would really recommend keeping an eye on the weather this week. Accurate drivers have had a lot of success here and if it gets even a little windy their edge will be increased. Look for accurate drivers with experience—or some recent success—to pair with some decent value plays who can get your four rounds of play. This should keep your teams in the hunt this weekend.