2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

There’s only one more event until the first major championship of 2024. But first, the PGA Tour rolls into San Antonio for the 2024 Valero Texas Open. As always, here is your early deep dive on the 2024 Valero Texas Open and a preview of how to bet.

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2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

The Golf Course

TPC San Antonio boasts two 18-hole golf courses. One is the Pete Dye designed Canyons Course on the north side of the property. The other, the Oaks Course, is on the south side of the property. It was built in 2010 by Greg Norman, with Sergio Garcia consulting on the project. Soon thereafter, it became the host for the Valero Texas Open and will continue to do so in 2024.

The golf course, at its maximum, stretches to just over 7,400 yards long. It’s naturally a Bermuda golf course, but on its March date, the fairways and rough are overseeded with ryegrass. The greens are overseeded with Poa Trivialis.

While there appears to be some bermuda peeking its way up through the poa trivialis overseed on the greens, the ryegrass overseed should continue to dominate in the fairway and rough at TPC San Antonio.

As for the golf course itself, it has its positives and negatives.

The golf course is immaculately maintained. As part of the TPC network, the golf course boasts fantastic turf conditions for its players. In addition, the golf course is not saturated with real estate eyesores like many TPC golf courses are.

Golf course architect Greg Norman wanted the natural landscape to shine, and it has a much more rugged look than other TPC golf courses. The golf course staff do a wonderful job setting up great playing conditions for all golfers.

And it is located at a beautiful J.W. Marriot resort. It features top-notch amenities, including a phenomenal pool, a lazy river, and a water park. While the kids can go hang out by the pool, you (and your spouse) can get away and play a well-maintained and challenging golf course.

There are some interesting holes and features to it. The greens have some nice undulations, and the greenside bunkers have good edging. The back nine also boasts some good holes. The 11th features a centerline bunker with a fairway runout of about 300 yards. The 16th is Greg Norman’s take on the 6th at Riviera.

The Par 3 has a bunker placed in the middle of the green, which makes for an inconvenient visual for the tee shot. The 18th also features a split fairway bisected by a creek.

While it’s not one of my top golf courses on the PGA Tour, it’s a great test for the professionals. In windy conditions, it certainly can give them fits. The bunkers can also be tricky to get up and down from off the green. So long as the wind blows, birdies should come at a premium on the Oaks Course this week at the 2023 Valero Texas Open.

After the 2021 Valero Texas Open, the bunkers were fully renovated with new sand and softened edges. Here’s a video from the golf course detailing exactly what changes were made to the golf course:

Betting Strategies

To begin the betting strategies for the 2024 Valero Texas Open, here is general information about the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Yardage: 7,438 Yards

Par: 72

  • Standard Par 72 setup at TPC San Antonio. 4 Par 3’s, 10 Par 4’s, 4 Par 5’s (including the closing 18th)

Fairway Width: 25-30 yards

Average Green Size: ~6,400 sq. feet

  • The greens are a little larger than PGA Tour average.

Agronomy

  • Greens: Poa Trivialis Overseed
  • Fairways & Collars: Ryegrass Overseed
  • Rough: Ryegrass Overseed – 2.25″

This will be the sixth golf course with overseeded greens played on the PGA Tour this season.

Past Champions

  • 2023: Corey Conners (-15)
  • 2022: J.J. Spaun (-13)
  • 2021: Jordan Spieth (-18)
  • 2020: COVID 19 (Death and Destruction)
  • 2019: Corey Conners (-20)

Corey Conners has won two of the last four Valero Texas Opens, but his pre-tournament odds were wildly different. In 2019, Corey Conners Monday qualified for the event and went off as a 175/1 longshot. Four years later, he went off at 25/1 and was one of the favorites to win the event.

Sandwiched in between the Corey Conners wins were a pair of polar opposite winners. Jordan Spieth was the tournament favorite at 12/1 in 2021 and generated a ton of momentum and buzz by winning the week before the Masters. The following year, J.J. Spaun went off as a 150/1 underdog.

Average Scoring

  • 2023: +0.01
  • 2022: -0.31
  • 2021: +0.16
  • 2020: N/A
  • 2019: -0.88

Scoring can vary wildly at TPC San Antonio based on the weather conditions. The 2021 Valero Texas Open encapsulates the volatility depending on how the wind blows. Here are the scoring averages for each round of the tournament:

  • Round 1: +1.37
  • Round 2: +1.20
  • Round 3: -0.77
  • Round 4: -1.14

The first two days saw very windy conditions that made the golf course play very tough. But over the weekend the winds laid down and the golf course received some rain to soften it up. Scoring shifted dramatically and allowed for plenty of birdies over the weekend.

As of this writing, it looks as though the golfers will get a bit of a mixed bag at TPC San Antonio. Thursday looks relatively calm and should allow for good scoring. But the wind will start to kick up on Friday afternoon and blow all the way through mid-Sunday afternoon, with the toughest conditions seen on Saturday. Players must get off to a good start on Thursday if they hope to win the 2024 Valero Texas Open.

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Strokes Gained Difficulty Rankings

Here are the difficulty rankings of each stroke gained category at TPC San Antonio of all golf courses played (including majors) since 2015. There have been 88 golf courses played during that period.

  • Off-The-Tee: 26th
  • Approach: 15th
  • Around-the-Green: 42nd
  • Putting: 34th

Every statistical category at TPC San Antonio is tougher than the typical PGA Tour golf course. Part of this is due to the design of the course. And part of that is due to mother nature.

Let’s start with how the design of TPC San Antonio challenges the golfers. For starters, TPC San Antonio isn’t particularly wide. The fairways are between 25-30 yards wide. While the rough isn’t all that punishing, a wide miss can pose problems. Off the primary overseeded rough is a native area that consists of weeds, rocks, and bramble bushes.

It’s not ideal to send tee shots in this vicinity. Everything is right out in front of the player, and it’s a test of hitting the ball straight. And with windy conditions, it makes for some tough driving holes.

In addition, the greens are well protected by bunkers. Several holes have very deep and expansive bunkers guarding an entire side of a green (for example, the 1st green). And while the greens are technically larger than PGA Tour average, their curvature and shaping don’t really make for inviting targets. They play smaller based on their undulation, and several greens while long aren’t particularly wide (for example, the 4th hole).

Golfers miss greens at relatively high rates at TPC San Antonio. They constantly are hitting to targets that aren’t visually appealing, all while dealing with windy conditions. That’s why it’s a difficult golf course for approach shots.

And while getting up and down from the rough at TPC San Antonio is some of the easiest conditions on the PGA Tour, its greenside bunkers are some of the toughest. Even after softening them and adding new sand to improve how well players can spin it out of there, players struggled to get up and down from the greenside bunkers in 2022 and 2023. Their deep and cavernous nature makes for some tough sledding for the professionals.

All in all, TPC San Antonio is one of the toughest tests in terms of ball-striking on the PGA Tour. So it’s no surprise when a ball-striking masters like Corey Conners can call himself a two-time winner. Or why J.J. Spaun was riding some hot ball-striking before he won it in 2022. Or how Jordan Spieth rejuvenated his ball-striking before finally winning in 2021. Those will be the ones to target this week.

Predictive Skillsets

Here is the relative skillset chart of the characteristics that are most predictive of success at TPC San Antonio (per DataGolf). This chart previews the types of players one would expect to do well at the 2024 Valero Texas Open.

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

The first thing that stands out is the wide variety of how players drive the ball to success at TPC San Antonio. There isn’t a high correlation between either length or accuracy to success at TPC San Antonio.

Part of this is due to the composition of the field, as generally weaker fields have worse drivers. And part of that is due to the golf course. The fairways are narrow, but the primary rough isn’t all that penal, reducing the skill for accuracy.

But the further one misses it the more trouble one is asking for, which is a deterrent for spraying it everywhere. In addition, the design of the golf course features counteracting forces that neutralize when the length is an advantage (i.e., downhill holes are into the wind, and uphill holes are with a tailwind).

But as expected for a true ball-strikers golf course with a relatively high rate for missed greens, better iron players and scramblers are expected to do better at TPC San Antonio than the typical PGA Tour setup.

Those who demonstrate good control with their irons and are able to handle some of the tough conditions around the green to save strokes stand a better chance of success at the Valero Texas Open.

In Tournament Success

Here is a chart showing how players have separated themselves from the field at TPC San Antonio when compared to the average PGA Tour golf course over the last three years (per DataGolf).

This shows what skill sets are more rewarded in the tournament in order to fare better or worse than the field. And it’s a preview of what to expect at the 2024 Valero Texas Open.

2023

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

2022

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

2021

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

For the most part, TPC San Antonio nets out as a typical PGA Tour golf course in terms of how one separates themselves in a tournament. It isn’t necessarily consistent year to year in terms of what skillsets are valued or devalued. For example, in tournament around-the-green play was devalued slightly in 2021 but way more important in 2022.

But based on the last three Valero Texas Opens, here is what will matter most in the tournament, as well as how it compares to the typical PGA Tour setup:

  1. Iron Play (slightly more important than average)
  2. Putting (less important than average)
  3. Around-the-Green (more important than average)
  4. Off-the-tee (about PGA Tour average in importance.

In addition, there appears to be zero correlation between how exactly players gain strokes on the field off the tee in terms of distance or accuracy. One player might miss a bunch of fairways but hit it a long way and not find a ton of trouble, while another player might hit a ton of fairways but bunt it out there, and each stands a chance of gaining the same number of strokes on the field off-the-tee at the 2024 Valero Texas Open. Both distance and accuracy are less correlated to in-tournament driving than in the typical PGA Tour event.

Approach Shot Proximity 

Here are the approach shot proximity buckets for TPC San Antonio (per DataGolf) from 2023 and 2021. This will preview what types of approach shots players are expected to hit at the 2024 Valero Texas Open:

2023

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

2021

2024 Valero Texas Open Preview

Overall, there are a higher than normal frequency of approach shots from under 125 yards, and a much higher rate of shots from over 250 yards. That is consistent almost every single year at TPC San Antonio.

What isn’t consistent, however, is the frequency of shots between 150-175 yards and 175-200 yards. This is evident from the 2023 and 2021 Valero Texas Opens. In 2023, there were much fewer shots than average from 150-175 yards and more than average from 175-200 yards. But in 2021, it was the complete opposite.

The culprit likely is wind direction. But overall, about one out of three shots at TPC San Antonio will come from between 150-200 yards, which is slightly less than PGA Tour average.

Follow the tips in this preview, and one should put together a solid DFS lineup or betting card for the 2024 Valero Texas Open.

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