This week, we’ve got the Valero Texas Open coming to us from San Antonio. It’s been played on the AT&T Oaks course at TPC San Antonio since 2010 (so toss any prior course history). The Oaks Course is a 7,435-yard par 72, and as I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, it’s the toughest course I ever played on EA’s Tiger Woods Golf.
2015 Valero Texas Open
1. Jimmy Walker -11
2. Jordan Spieth -7
3. Billy Horschel -4
T-4. Daniel Summerhays -3
T-4. Chesson Hadley -3
T-6. Dustin Johnson -2
T-6. Ryan Palmer -2
T-8. Chris Kirk -1
T-8. Brendan Steele -1
T-8. Scott Pinckney -1
It’s Texas, so you know weather (especially the wind) will come into play. Last year, the wind was so bad for the Thursday AM wave that those golfers shot an average of four strokes worse relative to par than the PM wave. This year seems relatively tame, but you never know. There’s a steady 50% chance of rain all day Thursday, a 90% chance of thunder storms on Sunday, and < 10 MPH winds all four days. I don’t think there’s a real advantage to be had AM v. PM, but if conditions are soft, the longer hitters probably gain a little bit of an advantage.
- Strokes Gained: (Tee-to-Green and Putting)
- Driving Distance
- Proximity from 175-200 and 200+ Yards
- Scrambling (General) & Scrambling Proximity from Inside 30 Yards
- Par 4 and 5 Scoring Average
PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS!
New thing I’m trying out this week… I’m going to list the plays in order of preference rather than price. YAY for transparency! We’ll see how it goes.
Matt Kuchar $10700
Kuch has been playing well (T-24 @ Masters, T-9 @ RBC Heritage) and has never finished lower than T-22 at TPC San Antonio. He’s extremely accurate from 200+ yards and an excellent scrambler when he does miss. That’s a winning combination at this track.
J.B. Holmes $10100
Holmes has two great and two blah finishes at this event to his credit. Given his form, I’m
expecting hoping for more of the former than latter. He’s a long-hitting birdie machine and not a half-bad scrambler. If you want the Cliff’s Notes, he’s Brooks Koepka in a little better form at a slightly cheaper price.
Bryson DeChambeau $9800
T-27 @ API, T-21 @ The Masters, T-4 @ RBC Heritage… He’s shown he has the game to compete at a variety of tracks, and frankly, I’m just looking to ride the wave. He led the field in SGT2G last week, and if his putter shows up in Texas, he could wind up holding the trophy on Sunday.
Brandt Snedeker $10300
Zig when everybody else is zagging. He burned so many people last week that I think he might go a little under-owned. On a course this long, these guys are going to miss some greens, and Brandt is one of the best scramblers in the game. He has the requisite length and tee-to-green game to compete (though I’d like his proximity numbers from distance to be a little better), and he finished solo 4th here in 2011 (his only VTO start).
Jimmy Walker $11200
Defending champ; he bested Spieth by four strokes last year to take home the title (though he was part of the easier PM wave). He’s one of the best birdie-makers in the field both from 50-125 and 200+ yards. Strong tee-to-green game and long-hitter. Though he’s not a great scrambler, he is an elite putter.
Branden Grace $10900
As you can tell from this pick, I’m not a member of “team fade last week’s winner.” Grace was fantastic on Sunday; playing with max level swag. I expect him to carry that momentum into San Antonio. Despite mediocre course history, I think he has the game to win here. He’s +1.058 SGT2G with an average driving distance of 291 yards. He’s also #3 in the field in terms of proximity from 200+ yards and a great scrambler.
Andrew Loupe $6500
Loupe finished T-4 here in 2014 and was part of the “AM wave of death” last year (he inevitably missed the cut). I’m tossing that MC. IMO, he’s playing the best golf of his career, and he does a lot that I like given the course. Long off the tee, makes a lot of birdies from that 200 yard range, and he’s actually gaining half a stroke per round on the greens. There isn’t much I like in the value range this week, but Loupe definitely stands out as a great play.
Kevin Chappell $9100
Is his putter going to show up? I hope his putter shows up…
Chappell has some strong course history which includes a 2nd and 15th. He also made it through last year despite an AM start time. That has to count for something. He’s posted top-10s in two of his last three starts and has that winning combination I’m looking for (SGT2G + proximity from 200 out + scramble proximity from in close).
Ryan Palmer $8500
Although he doesn’t have a top-20 finish since January, Palmer has made 10 straight cuts. I’m not sure if he’s running well by squeaking through or poorly with no top-end finishes despite always being in contention. In any event, I like his chances this week. He’s 5/6 in cuts made at Valero with two top-10 finishes. Palmer thrives on par 5s (#2 in par 5 scoring behind only Jimmy Walker), and he’ll have four chances per round to do some damage in that regard.
Charley Hoffman $9600
Disclaimer: Charley Hoffman is (likely) going to come in around 25% ownership if I had to guess, and he’s almost $10k. There is merit to fading him. That said, I like him. So it’s up to you to decide which way you want to go. I may end up fading him, but he deserves consideration.
Charley is this week’s Luke Donald. He’s never finished lower than 13th in six tries at this event. That’s pretty good. However unlike Donald, Hoffman comes in with a little bit of form (five straight top-33 finishes including a T-14 last week). It’s hard to argue with that combination of form and course history. Though none of his numbers in key areas are all that spectacular, there aren’t any obvious red flags, either.
Brooks Koepka $10400
There’s this idea floating around that Brooks hasn’t been playing all that well. If that’s the case, the rest of the tour will soon be in serious trouble. In his last eight stroke play events, Koepka has finished T-26 or better in six of them. That’s the level of consistency you’d expect from a $10k golfer. His game is similar to J.B. Holmes’; long, great birdie rate (especially from 200+), and okay scrambler. The main difference is Brooks is a very good putter. If it were me, I’d take Holmes and the savings, but I’ll be using both in GPPs.
Freddie Jacobson $8100
I think Freddie Jac likes it in San Antonio… he’s played here six times and has five top-18 finishes. His numbers don’t look all that impressive, but he has a reputation of being a bit of a garbage man. On a course as long and tough as this one, being an elite scrambler can cure a lot of ills. The combination of price and course history is enough for me.
Patrick Rodgers $7300
Even though it’s his first time at the VTO, I’m still all-in. His game checks a lot of boxes: SGT2G, distance, prox/birdie rate from 200+, scramble proximity, par 4 and 5 scoring average, etc. He also has two top-21 finishes in his last three events (missed the cut on the number in Houston). Rodgers is one of my favorite plays this week.
Phil Mickelson $9900
So are people taking the scorned ex approach with Phil this week? Yes, he burned a lot of us at Augusta, but so what? It happens. I guess his course history isn’t all that impressive either… but you know what? That makes him an excellent GPP play.
If we’re going by stats alone, Phil might be the best option in the field.
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 1st
- Driving Distance: 19th
- Birdie Rate from 200+ Yards: 6th
- Scrambling: 12th
- Scrambling Proximity from < 30 Yards: 3rd
- Strokes Gained: Putting: 3rd
- Birdie or Better %: 1st
- Par 4 Scoring Average: 15th
- Par 5 Scoring Average: 6th
I mean… that’s pretty much the prototype. And all year, Phil has either missed the cut or been in contention. At $9900, you’re getting a little bit of a discount, as well. Is Patrick Reed really worth $700 more than Phil Mickelson? The totality of circumstances points me towards Phil this week.
Brendan Steele $8800
I’m not all that concerned by a missed cut at Harbour Town, as Steele isn’t exactly known for his short game. He’ll get to let loose this week in Texas, and that should do wonders for his game. He’s a former champion of this event with two other top-8 finishes to his credit. It’s not hard to see why Steele succeeds in San Antonio. He’s one of the best from distance, makes a lot of birdies, and performs well on both par 4s and 5s. Look for a bounce back.
Luke List $6900
Along with Loupe and Rodgers, List completes my Holy Trinity of Value this week. He made the cut in his only VTO start in 2013, and I think he’s trending towards a victory on the PGA Tour. He’s made five of his last six cuts and posted three top-20s in that time period. List bombs it out there 305+ and picks up almost .750 strokes on the field tee-to-green per round. He’s excellent from distance and a competent scrambler. At $6900, you can’t ask for much more.
Aaron Baddeley $7400
Baddeley is a phenomenal scrambler (no doubt a result of his excellent putting), and he makes a surprisingly high number of birdies. He has three top-20 finishes in four VTO starts (though the last was a little wind-aided). A solid play.
William McGirt $8200
This one might be more of a cash than GPP play, but he merits consideration IMO. His numbers look solid across the board, and it seems like he’s always hanging around in these lesser events. I think he’s a reasonably safe bet to make it through the cut, but not sure how much upside is there.
Finally, these won’t be “official” picks, but I kind of like Matt Jones ($6600) and Matt Every ($6000) as GPP sleepers. Use them at your own risk and don’t get mad when Every WDs.