Last week’s RBC Hertitage was a very successful week for us as we managed to get 13/16 guys through the cut line. Although we didn’t have our hands on the eventual winner, Branden Grace, we still had a stellar showing with two T2’s, a T4 and a T9. I’ll be looking to emulate that success this week.
The PGA TOUR moves right along to San Antonio, Texas, this week for the playing of the Valero Texas Open. This event is the third longest standing on TOUR so the winner can surely glorify himself among a storied list of previous champions. Last year, weather was the main storyline as players who were tasked with going out in the early wave on Thursday morning saw their tournament basically crumble in front of them as extremely high winds caused scores to be inflated. As such, Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth found themselves on the proper side of the tee draw and used it to their advantage as they turned this tournament into a two horse race and battled each other over the weekend. Jimmy eventually bested Jordan by four shots to claim the title in his quasi hometown.
This year, rain, not wind, will be the main weather story. The San Antonio area has been getting pounded with rain but it is expected to taper off prior to the start of play on Thursday. Having said that, there is about a 40% chance of rain Thursday afternoon/evening which could cause some issues to that tee group. Sunday is expected to be quite stormy and if it comes to fruition, we could be in for a Monday finish (cue the Brandt Snedeker charge).
The Valero Texas Open moved to TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course) in 2010 which is a 7,435 yard Par 72. The tees, fairways, greens, and rough are comprised of Bermudagrass. This is a long track that features a slew of lengthy par 3s and par 5s which are sure to separate the competition. With this course being so lengthy and the expectancy for rain being so high, I think it’s proper to focus on players who hit the ball long off the tee this week as they will be tasked with much easier approaches to the greens. The fine folks at Fantasy Golf Metrics have compiled the shot dispersion data from 2010-2015 at this event and the results are below:
As you can see, 43% of all shots taken at this course over the last six years have occurred from distances of 150-200 yards. As a result, we’re going to be keying in on players who excel from 150-175 yards and 175-200 yards. To do so, we’ll once again be using FGM’s Yardage Gap Tool which allows you to select a predefined distance range and provides you with percentages on Birdie or Better, Strokes Gained, and Greens in Regulation, just to name a few. Once on the green, we’ll be analyzing player performance with the FGM Putting Splits Analyzer to determine just who gains or loses strokes to the field on these Bermuda greens. To quickly recap, our key areas of focus for this week are:
- Driving Distance
- Efficiency from 150-175 yards
- Efficiency from 175-200 yards
- Strokes Gained Putting: Bermuda Greens
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our studs.
High End Targets ($10,000+)
• Jimmy Walker
Slippin’ Jimmy returns to defend his title in his semi-hometown of San Antonio, storybook isn’t it? Seriously though, Jimmy has a magnificent set of tools for this event. The Baylor Bear hits a tremendous amount of greens and putts extremely efficiently once he’s on said greens. The fact that he’s 29th in Driving Distance also helps to up his value as this presumably wet track is sure to play longer than the 7,435 yards it reads on the scorecard. Earlier I touched on Jimmy’s putting and GIR efficiency and the empirical evidence is as follows: +1.246 SGP on Bermuda, 71.8% GIR from 150-175, and 67% GIR from 175-200. With numbers like that, it makes sense that Walker was able to claim this event by four shots last year.
• Patrick Reed
Patty is an extremely interesting option when it comes to DFS. He seems to excel on difficult golf courses that force players to grind it out. At the same time, he can go vintage Tiger deep and shred the ‘easy’ courses these guys find some weeks. All in all, a player with such volatility is, in my eyes, a must play on most weeks as you can soar up the GPP leaderboards if you capture him at the right time (think Phil Mickeldust, just not this week). With Grace having won last week and Kuch having played well, I think Reed will see a lower than normal ownership percentage as those two aforementioned players are only $300 and $100 more respectively. Reed is gaining .547 strokes on Bermuda surfaces, hitting 69.9% of his greens from 150-200, and 57.8% from 175-200. He’s no slouch off the tee either ranking 68th in Driving Distance. This is a wonderful week to invest yourself into Patty Reed.
• Brooks Koepka
Love this guy. Brooks is a force out there and this tournament sets up incredibly well for his maturity as a PGA TOUR pro. Brooks’ only appearance here came in 2014 when he was just finding his footing on TOUR after a very successful year on the European Challenge Tour in 2013 in which he won three times. Koepka finished T36 here in 2014 and later that year he went on to finish T4 at the US Open (Pinehurst No. 2) and seemingly never looked back. The Florida State Seminole really is the total package as he gains 1.181 strokes on Bermuda, hits 71.8% of his greens from 150-175 and 65.1% from 175-200. Ranking 15th in Driving Distance, it’s safe to say Brooks is a bomber as well.
• Brandt Snedeker
Fresh off a missed cut last week and having very limited course history here I think we can sneak Sneds into our squads at a criminally low ownership level this week. Last week was a bit of an anomaly as Brandt rarely, if ever, plays that poorly for two consecutive days. Hopefully the weekend off allowed him to rest up and adjust his sights on San Antonio this week. A truly wonderful putter of the ball, Snedeker gains 1.450 strokes on Bermuda greens. His ball striking is almost as pure as they come as he hits 75.8% of his greens from 150-175 and 60.5% from 175-200. Not an overly long hitter by any means, Sneds still pokes it out there a fair distance as he ranks 86th in Driving Distance. The most notable thing about this guy is his ability to battle adverse conditions. We saw this on full display in his surprising comeback win at Torrey Pines earlier this year where he battled sideways rain and driving winds to shoot a remarkable 69 and claim the title on Monday. That round was nearly 10 shots better than the field average that day and if the winds kick up here this week we should feel quite comfortable that Sneds will handle himself just fine. In his last appearance here in 2011, Brandt finished solo 4th.
Mid Range Targets ($9,900 – $8,000)
• Bryson DeChambeau
Surely to be a popular pick this week and for good reason. DeChambeau has been playing wonderful golf the last two weeks and we get another chance to witness his rise this week. Not a whole lot needs to be said about the SMU product as he’s uber-talented, a tremendous ball striker, and typically a strong putter although he does/has tended to miss very makeable putts the past few weeks. We’ll chalk it up to growing pains. Bryson has managed to find the green 71.4% of the time from 150-175 but only 41.2% from 175-200. The sample size on these numbers is obviously so small that I wouldn’t put a massive amount of stock into them. Basically, if you’ve watched this kid at all over the past two weeks you can clearly see the tremendous amount of talent he has as its been on full display. As I mentioned earlier, he has been missing some very makeable putts but as whole, he’s gaining 1.834 strokes on his competition. A pretty compelling number. Until the TOUR rookie cools off, continue to roster him in all formats even with his ever increasing price.
• Charley Hoffman
Welcome to Charley Hoffman chalk week! Charley is 100% going to be the highest owned player in every format imaginable this week. The UNLV product has been playing some wonderful golf of late and has some tremendous course history here which is sure to catch the eye of everyone. The most unbelievable part of all this is his price tag as it’s somehow under $10k. In his last five trips to this tournament, Charley has posted finishes of: T11, T11, T3, T13, and T2. A player with that type of course history and a sub $10k price tag will undoubtedly be the highest owned player on the slate. Now, even with such a high expected ownership, I think it’s extremely ill advised to fade Charley this week. He’s simply playing too good right now and making far too many birdies to miss out. Hoffman is gaining .241 strokes on Bermuda surfaces, hitting 69.7% of his greens from 150-175, and 58.5% from 175-200 yards. In the upper tiers of distance off the tee at 53rd overall, Charley is the most well rounded and +EV play of the week.
• Billy Horschel
Horschel is a guy I’ve had some trouble getting right this year but I feel like we’re grabbing him at the right time this week. A tremendous putter, Billy can really strike the ball flush as well. In two of his last three trips here, Horschel has posted third place finishes. His form is strong too as hes made nine of his last ten cuts on TOUR with six of them being Top 25 finishes. The Florida Gator gains .758 strokes on Bermuda surfaces, hits 76.7% of his greens from 150-175 yards, and 66.7% from 175-200. He ranks 85th in Driving Distance and looks to continue his run of form at the Valero this week.
• Jason Kokrak
A few weeks ago at the Valspar we were high on Kokrak and he promptly missed the cut like a total beauty. I was a little frightened by his ‘1-shot’ approach in which he exclusively hit a draw but it seems as though hes been working on a fade as I saw his ball move left to right on a few occasions last week and that has me fired up to give him a go. Kokrak is an absolute bomber as he ranks 6th in Driving Distance which will play well with this lengthy track. His last three trips here have resulted in success as well as hes managed to secure finishes of T11, T31, and T15. Although the putter isn’t his strongest club in the bag as he’s losing an almost negligible .074 strokes, I still have a ton of confidence in this man this week. A 72.6% GIR clip from 150-175 and 62.8% rate from 175-200 instills such confidence. Fresh off a T6 last week at Harbour Town, I can see this man climbing into contention over the course of the next four days.
• Ryan Palmer
A Texas native, Ryan Palmer has enjoyed a fair amount of success at this course over the last four seasons. Palmer has played his way to finishes of T6, T56, T15, and T32. The thing I love about this guy is his efficiency in the wind. Palmer is also an extremely strong putter regardless of what surface he is on so I always feel safe plugging him into my lineups. The Aggie gains .590 strokes on Bermuda, hits 73.6% of his greens from 150-175, and 66.5% from 175-200. He mashes the ball off the tee as he ranks 8th in Driving Distance and this should all correlate to a strong finish again this week.
• Daniel Summerhays
Summerhays isn’t a guy you would typically peg to perform well at an event like this but he has proven everyone wrong the last four years. Boasting some of the finest course history in the field, Summerhays is definitely in play even though it pains me to pay $8,300 for him. From a pure talent standpoint, I’m still not sold on this play but from a logical standpoint, I’m all in. In his last four trips here to San Antonio, Daniel has posted finishes of T4, T2, T7, and T29. He’s gaining .346 strokes on the field, hitting 69.8% of his greens from 150-175, and 61.2% from 175-200. He ranks 102nd in Driving Distance which isn’t exactly what we’re looking for but clearly it hasn’t hurt him in the past. Again, I’m not sold on this man’s talent, but I am sold on his effectiveness here.
Low End Targets (<$8,000)
• Keegan Bradley
Geekgan Bradley has been going through one of the sharpest career declines I’ve ever seen in any sport. Perhaps it’s due to the ditching of his beloved visor? Truth be told, nobody really knows what’s going on with this guy and it’s quite depressing as he has tons of talent. Every now and then we do see glimpses of the ‘Keegan of old’ but he can’t quite get them to stick just yet. The thing is, Bradley actually sets up so well for this course that I have to give him a look this week. His play from our critical distances this week is superb as hes managed to hit 71.2% of his greens from 150-175 and 66.5% from 175-200. He bombs the ball off the tee as he’s ranked 38th in that category and his putter is basically negligible at -.090 strokes to the field. In his sole appearance here in 2011, Keegs finished in a tie for 9th. Maybe he found some inspiration with the resurgence of fellow slumper, Luke Donald last week.
• Aaron Baddeley
We were high on Badds last week and things worked out beautifully as he blew away his cheapo price tag and finished in a tie for 9th. This week, I expect him to continue with his form and eclipse this price tag as well. Everything sets up wonderfully well for the Aussie as he’s gaining an incredible 2.050 strokes, hitting 75.4% of his greens from 150-175, and 67.7% from 175-200. His distance off the tee has room for improvement as he ranks 97th but that certainly won’t hurt us. Last week, we loved his course history at Harbour Town and this week it’s not nearly as good but still respectable as his last three trips have resulted in finishes of T20, T67, and T15. So long as Badds strikes the ball well, he will be able to place himself in contention as he’s such a phenomenal putter.
• Scott Pinckney
Pinckney is a really cheeky pick this week. He’s a guy who routinely flies under the radar and understandably so. The Arizona State product has never won on the PGA TOUR but has a T2 at the 2015 Byron Nelson listed as his best career finish. This season, hes been popping up around various leaderboards quite frequently and I believe this track sets up very well for him to do so again. Pinckney’s putter seems to be the issue as he loses .274 strokes to the field on Bermuda greens but the rest of his game suits this place just fine. He hits 65.2% of his greens from 150-175 yards and 69.9% from 175-200. Take notice of the fact that Pinckney is better from the longer distance. A situation loosely similar to that of reverse splits we sometimes see with pitchers in baseball. Scotty made his first appearance here last year where he tied for 8th. Ranked 39th on the TOUR in Driving Distance, I can see Pinckney having another fine showing here this year.
• Seung-yul Noh
Seung-yul has made the cut in all four of his appearances here at the Valero which bodes extremely well for his chances of success this week. There’s a very good chance we’ll see the young South Korean in next week’s article as well when the TOUR travels to New Orleans for the Zurich Classic which was the site of Noh’s lone PGA TOUR victory back in 2014. Noh loses a bit of a step on Bermuda surfaces as he gives up .303 strokes to the field. He bounces back in a big way with his ball striking however as he hits 70.1% of his greens from 150-175 and 69% from 175-200. I was genuinely surprised to find that Noh is actually ranked 56th in Driving Distance as I had always pegged him as a ‘shorter’ hitter. If you’re a believer in patterns, Seung-yul’s last four finishes here of T50, T16, T46, and T13 should have him on pace for a Top 20. HA! If only it were that easy eh, pal?
• Matt Every
My fondest memory of Matt Every was his appearance on one of the original season’s of the Golf Channel’s The Big Break. Every had just finished a standout career at the University of Florida in which he was given the Ben Hogan Award which recognized the nation’s best collegiate golfer. He promptly went on to get eliminated in the first episode of the show which was pretty gutless. Anyway, Every is criminally underpriced this week at just $6,000. He’s a great putter on Bermuda surfaces as he gains 1.361 strokes on the field. His GIR rates are slightly dodgy but fully manageable at 63% from 150-175 and 57% from 175-200. Ranking 111th in Driving Distance won’t hurt him one bit this week as his course history of T35, T79, T2, and T30 the last four years prove he knows how to get around this place.
**Last, but not least, there’s one super cheeky guy on the board at $6,000 this week that I decided not to write up but I do really like his game and will quick hit his stats for you below:
Henrik Norlander ($6,000)
- SGP: +.088
- 73.5% GIR from 150-175
- 63.4% GIR from 175-200
- Driving Distance: 139th
All Driving Distance stats in this article are a product of the PGA TOUR and can be found here:
While all putting and GIR stats are a product of FGM and can be found here:
Best of luck to everyone this weekend.