Out of the Rough: The Valero Texas Open
In the short time since this series has returned, last week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was our most successful. Our first lineup was carried by Corey Conners who helped us double our money. Lineup two was where we really hit big. Kevin Kisner finished second, Dustin Johnson finished fourth and Abraham Ancer finished sixth. Three selections in the top six led us to a decent payday. We now head to the Valero Texas Open with The Masters to follow. Exciting times on the Tour here.
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Patrick Cantlay - T26th
Bryson DeChambeau - T58th
Will Zalatoris - T7th
Tony Finau - T35th
Corey Conners - 3rd
Tom Hoge - T58th
Dustin Johnson - 4th
Xander Schauffele - T35th
Sungjae Im - T35th
Abraham Ancer - 6th
Kevin Kisner - 2nd
Luke List - T35th
With the biggest golf tournament in the world next week, we’ll see a less star filled field here at the Valero Texas Open.
Many of the world’s best will be resting at home or heading to Augusta early to prepare for next week’s Masters.
Others, such as Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will use the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio - Oaks Course to sharpen their irons (pun intended) and prepare for next week.
TPC San Antonio features two separate 18-hole courses. Pete Dye designed the Canyons Course on the north side of the property with Greg Norman’s the Oaks Course on the south side.
The Oaks Course is a top-15 hardest track on the tour and plays in similar length and par as Augusta, making it a great warm-up type event.
Along with the length and par, TPC San Antonio, although a different type of grass, plays very similarly to that of The Masters. Rough length and green speeds will be similar to Augusta, as this event has done a great job in emulating Augusta.
Spieth is the defending champion of this event from a year ago and headlines the field that includes McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Corey Conners, Tony Finau and Gary Woodland.
The spot before the Masters is fairly new to this event and course but it has been played for at least ten years. In 2020 the PGA canceled the event but the Korn Ferry Tour used TPC San Antonio in its rotation.
Water isn’t much of an obstacle here with just three water hazards in play but there are a bunch of bunkers to be found with 64 scattered across the course.
As for featured holes at this course, Hole 16 features a bunker in the middle of the green and Hole 18 features a split fairway.
Finding the fairways that are often times long and straight as Norman was one of the longest drivers on tour during his peak will be key. Hitting the fairways is important as well as driving distance, but not necessarily the most important.
Avoiding the bunkers around the greens is the biggest challenge of this course. Therefore Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG) will be the most important statistic to follow this week.
Other important statistics include \Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (SG:BS,) Driving Distance Gained and Par 5’s Gained.
Trends to follow include five-of-the-past-six champions had a Top 30 finish the year before and four-of-the-past-seven champions made the Valero Texas Open their first PGA Tour victory.
There’s only five golfers available in this price range. That includes the struggling Bryson DeChambeau. The course doesn’t fit Abe Ancer’s style either. That leaves us with McIlroy, Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama ($10,800.) I’m all in on Matsuyama this week. He’s top five on the tour in SG: BS and Par 5’s Gained. He’s also 42nd in SG: ATG and 34th in Driving Distance Gained. Going along with the trends, he finished 30th at the event a year ago. He checks all of the boxes for success at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course. Matsuyama also has made all 11 cuts he’s played in this season and has five top tens. Also consider Jordan Spieth ($10,600.) Spieth is struggling as of late, there’s no questions around that. His swing seems off and that has shown with his run of recent events. But we’re still talking about Spieth here. Despite his struggles to start the season, he’s still currently 18th on tour in Par 5’s gained, 21st in SG: BS and 23rd in Driving Distance Gained. On top of all of this, he won this event a year ago. Spieth needs a “get right” tournament and The Valero Texas Open could be just that.
There isn’t a ton in this price range I’m in love with, but the one guy I’ll be playing often this week is Si Woo Kim ($9,600.) Woo Kim is 23rd on tour in Par 5’s Gained, 34th in SG: BS and 49th in Driving Distance Gained. On top of that, he finished 24th at the event last year and placed fourth at this event in 2019. Besides his withdrawal from The Players and a 73rd place finish at The Genesis, Woo Kim has not finished outside of 26th in five of his last seven events. He’s playing some great golf as of late and his game fits this tournament rather well. Also consider Chris Kirk ($9,400.) First off, Kirk finished sixth at this event last year. He’s also 16th on tour in SG: ATG, 59th in SG: BS and 68th in Par 5’s Gained. Besides a missed cut at The Players, Kirk finished fifth at The Arnold Palmer Invitational, seventh at The Honda Classic and 14th at the WM Phoenix Open. Kirk has a proven track record at this event and course and is playing some good golf over his last four events.
Luke List ($8,500) is a name that I somehow keep gravitating too when it comes to this series and here we are again. List is arguably the golfer I’m most excited for in terms of DFS play this week. Let me tell you why. He’s fifth on tour in Driving Distance Gained, 16th in SG: ATG, 25th in SG: BS and 31st in Par 5’s Gained. His game is nearly handcrafted for this course. He also finished T17th at this event last year. List will be in nearly every lineup I run this week. Also consider Jhonattan Vegas ($8,600.) Now, when it comes to SG: ATG, Vegas is not good, not at all. Heck, he’s one of the worst on tour. That scares me, it definitely does, but the other important aspects of his game suit this course well. He’s fifth on tour in Driving Distance Gained, 20th in SG: BS and 40th in Par 5’s Gained. He did miss the cut here a season ago but placed T30th in 2019. Let’s see if this selection pays off.
There are a handful of names in this price range that excite me. I’ll lead off with Martin Laird ($7,500.) Laird is currently 14th on tour in SG: BS, 48th in Par 5’s Gained, 58th in SG: ATG and 73rd in Driving Distance Gained. He placed T30th at this event last year as well. Laird is very well priced and his play and previous track record at the event plays in his favor. Also consider Matt Jones ($7,000.) Jones is currently fourth on tour in SG: ATG, 31st in Par 5’s Gained and 38th in Driving Distance Gained. Jones did not play the event a year ago, but did place T30th in 2019 at the Valero Texas Open. At $7,000, he’s worth the risk.
We’ve had a decent recent run of under $6,900 priced golfers having decent tournaments in this series. Let’s keep that going. I’m going to suggest James Hahn ($6,200) here. Hahn is currently 37th on tour in SG: ATG, 68th in Par 5’s Gained, 70th in SG: BS and 80th in Driving Distance gained. In other words, he’s top 80 in each of the four statistics we’ve been using to suggest players this week. This all comes at just $6,200 as well. Also consider Hudson Swafford ($6,400.) Swafford is statistically one of the worst on tour around the green and I did state that will be of the utmost importance this week, but the rest of his game suits this course well. He’s 27th on tour in SG: BS, 30th in Driving Distance Gained and 48th in Par 5’s Gained. He also does have a victory on the season with a win at The American Express. Again, he’s just $6,400.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, we will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week it was Sergio Garcia who didn’t make it into the Round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
This week, Lenny is going with Adam Long.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valpsar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC