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Valero Texas Open Picks And Preview

Valero Texas Open Picks and Preview

I’m going to pull back the curtain for a second…

When I write these previews, I like to try and portray an interesting angle about the tournament. Sometimes I’ll highlight the history of the event and its notable results, or spotlight the unique architecture of the course, or riff about the vibe of the event itself.

In all honesty, I don’t have much interesting to say about the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

I don’t think it’s the fault of the course though. The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio was co-designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia and opened up in 2010, and by all accounts, the course is in immaculate condition at all times during the year and is fun to play for amateurs and pros alike. The course utilizes the elevation changes of the property to its advantage and the bermuda greens present a challenge with tricky sloping to always keep golfers on their toes. The course plays tough, especially when the winds kick up out of the northeast and makes the already long track even longer, especially on the closing holes of both the front and back nines. Sure, the Par 5 18th is a bit of a gimmick hole with a man-made creek bisecting the fairway, but any course that ends with a Par 5 almost always delivers some late tournament drama.

And have I mentioned the pool on the property?

But year in and year out this event barely moves the needle for even the most hardcore golf fans. It always has seemed to be the red-headed stepchild of the PGA Tour despite being one of the oldest events played. The tournament has bounced around from course to course around the San Antonio area ever since it’s inception. And the PGA Tour has done it no favors on the schedule either. In 2007 the tournament was punted to the Fall Season (aka golf purgatory) and was played opposite of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. It was moved back to the regular rotation in May 2010 when the event moved to TPC San Antonio, but most of the top golfers take time off between The Masters and The Players Championship and it struggled to draw big names. In 2013 the Tour tried putting it as the event right before the Masters, but unlike the Houston Open the course has very little similarities to Augusta and most big names opted for additional rest. The PGA Tour will try this strategy again next year and probably fail to drive up any buzz.

Because of the weaker fields the tournament routinely boasts, the top of the leaderboard has delivered a bit of a hodgepodge of the profile of golfers who do well. We’ve seen leaderboards dominated by bombers like in 2017 and overrun with shorter hitters like in 2014. Overall, I’ll be targeting solid ball strikers who’ll be able to accurately hit greens on longer approaches, as well as those who have a good track record navigating windy golf courses.

The Favorites:

  • Sergio Garcia – 14/1, $12,000
  • Matt Kuchar – 18/1, $11,400
  • Charley Hoffman – 18/1, $10,900
  • Luke List – 25/1, $10,000
  • Ryan Moore – 28/1, $10,200
  • Adam Scott – 30/1, $9,600
  • Kevin Chappell – 33/1, $9,300
  • Billy Horschel – 35/1, $9,100
  • Brandt Snedeker – 35/1, $9,000

Fresh off a colossal bust at Augusta, Sergio Garcia returns to the circuit as the top favorite on the betting sheet and DraftKings. Sergio does have past success on the blustery and fast conditions a Texas course offers. He’s a two-time winner of the Byron Nelson in Dallas and notched his first PGA Tour victory at the Colonial way back in 2001 (god that makes me feel old). But this will be the first time he’s teed it up at the course he helped design with Greg Norman since 2010 (probably because Greg’s daughter unceremoniously dumped Sergio…awkward). He does possess the tools needed to do well there, but generally, this event is fairly wide open and with such a weak field I’d expect his ownership to be pretty high. I’ll pass on his high price point in favor of developing a more deep, well rounded DraftKings roster and look to place any futures wagers on someone with longer odds.

Charley Hoffman is certainly the horse for the course at TPC San Antonio, notching a win at this event in 2016 and two additional Top 5 performances. He’s been fairly non-descript this year and hasn’t recorded a Top 10 on tour yet, but that will probably change this week. He’s been solid with his irons as he ranks 38th in Strokes Gained on Approach and he’s once again scoring well on Par 5’s. In 2016 he went 9 under on the Par 5’s on his way to posting a -12 winning score, and because the course plays tough he’ll need to fare well in that department again this week if he wants to compete for another win. I don’t love his futures odds at 18/1 and he should be a very popular pick in DraftKings this week. But in matchup or as a +175 Top 10 prop play, I certainly like his chances with a fairly safe floor.

It seems like it’s just a matter of time before Luke List notches his first PGA Tour victory, doesn’t it? I actually wasn’t a big fan of List last week at Harbour Town, but he certainly proved me wrong on the way towards a T3 finish. Now he takes that momentum and heads to a track that suits his game better. Normally, you don’t want to rely on a guy with a high ball-flight at a windy track like TPC San Antonio, but that hypothesis doesn’t quite hold water when high ball-flighters like Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman have a good history at the course. Last week at Harbour Town he was ~11% owned on DraftKings and I expect his ownership to be more around 20% this week, so you won’t be alone if you add him to a lineup. But you can make up for that by taking fliers on lesser owned golfers to make your lineup stand out more. At 25/1, I think this is the week he finally takes home the bacon.

Overall, I’m not too impressed with the top favorites of the tournament (Billy Horschel at 35/1, seriously bruh?). With a weak field I see a lot of value at some golfers with longer odds and lower DraftKings prices. Here are a few other names that should solidify your lineups and keep in mind for the matchup and longer future bets:

  • Xander Schauffele – 40/1, $8,800
  • Ollie Schniederjans – 40/1, $8,700
  • Jamie Lovemark – 45/1, $7,700
  • Kevin Na – 55/1, $7,800

Last year’s Valero Texas Open for Xander Schauffele was certainly one to forget. Schauffele carded a 75 in his opening round and missed the cut in his first appearance at TPC San Antonio. But Schauffele was still finding his groove in his rookie season and is a much, much better player now. Schauffele has been fairly quiet results-wise and has only posted one Top 10 this year. But he’s a big hitter off the tee and has scored well on long-iron approaches in 2018, something the golfers will face several times with both long yardages and holes that play directly into the prevailing northeast winds. Schauffele was ~13% owned at the RBC Heritage last week and didn’t do much to suggest he’ll be more popular this week. Look for him to make a lot more noise this week and possibly return to the winner’s circle.

Ollie Schniederjans is my kryptonite despite some lackluster results. Maybe it’s his impeccable hairdo that’s so perfect he refuses to wear a structured hat over his flowing locks. Or maybe it’s because I swoon over this shot:

He’s made five of six cuts since placing T3 in Phoenix but hasn’t made any noise whatsoever on the weekend. Still, his all around game remains solid as he ranks 57th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 51st in Strokes Gained on Approach and 46th in Strokes Gained Putting. Plus, if the winds do howl this weekend that low ball flight he has will come in mighty handy. I’ll take the bait on him once again this weekend.

Like Luke List, Jamie Lovemark is another golfer who seems ready to notch his first victory on Tour. He had a close call at the Honda Classic back in February and has played solid, steady golf since getting off to a rocky start to his season. Lovemark doesn’t have a whole lot of success at TPC San Antonio but he checks a lot of boxes in the statistics category this weekend – 56th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 49th in Strokes Gained on Approach and he’s rolling the ball fairly well on the greens this year (at least relative to his career on tour). I don’t like his futures odds this week, though, as 45/1 is way too high for him. But his DraftKings price is pretty nice and he could definitely surpass his price point with a quality result.

Some of you may be thinking “come on Steve, you’re just throwing in Kevin Na into your column so you can bring up his epic meltdown in 2011. The field lacks interesting names and you’re starving for content”.

Well…you caught me.

Kevin Na has by and large avoided this tournament since then, but the last time he teed it up at TPC San Antonio he did scrape together a Top 20 finish, so maybe he’s exorcised the demons a bit. He disappointed a lot of people (ok, maybe just me) at the Heritage last weekend but he rallied back from a lackluster first round to shoot a 69 on Friday and just miss the cut by a shot. I’ll take a mulligan and utilize him in DraftKings lineups once again.

  • Scott Piercy – 70/1, $7,400
  • Brandon Harkins – 160/1, $7,300
  • Tom Hoge – 160/1, $7,000

Here’s a trio of cheaper longshots that I’ll have my eye on this weekend. Scott Piercy’s futures odds are a bit inflated but I love his DraftKings price this weekend. He’s 10th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and leading the tour in Strokes Gained on Approach in 2018. That should translate well to a decent finish at TPC San Antonio.

The same goes for Brandon Harkins as he looks to regain his early season form. He’s definitely cooled off after a great start to his rookie campaign but he remains solid in his ball striking statistics and has played some of his best golf at blustery courses like Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach this year.

As for Tom Hoge while he’s also in a bit of a slump his solid ball striking tee to green sets up well at TPC San Antonio. He also has positive course history at this event when he finished in the Top 10 back in 2016.

Both Harkins and Hoge provide some value as Top 20 plays this weekend, and Piercy should be a cheap option in DraftKings if you’re looking to round out your lineup with a high upside play.

Valero Texas Open DraftKings Lineup #1

  • Luke List – $10,000
  • Brendan Steele – $8,900
  • Chesson Hadley – $8,500
  • Kevin Na – $7,800
  • Chris Paisley – $7,600
  • Tom Hoge – $7,000

Valero Texas Open DraftKings Lineup #2

  • Kevin Chappell – $9,300
  • Xander Schauffele – $8,800
  • Ollie Schniederjans – $8,700
  • Martin Laird – $8,000
  • Jamie Lovemark – $7,700
  • Chris Kirk – $7,500

Valero Texas Open DraftKings Lineup #3

  • Charley Hoffman – $10,900
  • Pat Perez – $8,400
  • Zach Johnson – $8,000
  • Kevin Streelman – $7,700
  • Scott Piercy – $7,400
  • Brandon Harkins – $7,300

Golf analyst for SportsGamblingPodcast.com, providing insight on news and betting tips for the PGA Tour, as well as commentary and banter on the World of Sports. Follow him on Twitter @SteveSchirmer

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