2015 Valero Texas Open: Preview, Strategy and Picks
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Only two more events until the Masters, which means the PGA Tour moves out of South Florida and into San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.
While typically the field isn’t strong the week or sometimes two weeks before a major, many of the best players have made their way to Texas to tee it up at TPC San Antonio. However, most of the top players are Americans as every player at $10,000 or above is from the States. Therefore, as you might expect, DraftKings pretty much nailed the odds per dollar this week.
Luckily for us, TPC San Antonio offers daily fantasy players a fairly easy strategy.
Length is Key
TPC San Antonio tips out at 7,435 yards and is a par 72. While the winning score is only typically around 8-under par (sometimes better pending soft conditions), there are plenty of holes to take advantage with eagles on. In fact, two of the four easiest holes are par 4s, which is why driving distance is huge to get the eagle bonus.
Let’s take a look at the holes to watch out for.
No. 2, 602 yards, Par 5 – One of the two toughest par 5s to make an eagle on. Yes the length is a reason, but there is also a bunker sitting in the fairway that can come into play for the longer hitters. There is also a huge deep bunker behind the double green and usually plays into the wind. Essentially, you’re relying on one of the long hitters to hit a drive just short of the fairway bunker, rip a fairway wood with some loft to an accessible pin and make the putt. There have been an average of two eagles made here in the last four years, and they have all been by relatively long hitters.
No. 5, 342 yards, Par 4 – This is the shortest par 4 on the course, and it even plays slightly downhill and downwind. It is somewhat of a narrow green in terms of accessibility, but there are no bunkers directly protecting the green in front and eagles are certainly possible. Obviously, the aggressive and long players will go for it, and there have been 2.8 eagles converted here over the last five years.
No. 8, 604 yards, Par 5 – This hole plays beside No. 2, which means it plays slightly uphill, but it’s downwind. There isn’t as much reason to lay up here for the long hitters as opposed to No. 2, but the wind will be needed. There have only been five eagles total on this hole the previous four years, and length is necessary to have an eagle putt.
No. 14, 567 yards, Par 5 – Not only is it the shortest par 5, but it’s a dogleg right that can make the hole play shorter for the big hitters. The only concern is missing the bunker on the right because you can make a big number from there, but if you miss the green, you probably aren’t making eagle anyways. There have been 9.8 eagles on No. 14 in each of the previous five years.
No. 16, 183 yards, Par 3 (Bonus) – I’m throwing this hole in for your viewing pleasure, and you’ll thank me if you watch the tournament. While No. 6 at Riviera Country Club is known for its creative par 3 with the bunker placed in the middle of the green, TPC San Antonio has the same feature at No. 16. There are three sections to this green, and there will be several different tee boxes used to make this hole play differently all four days. If someone hits his tee shot onto the wrong section, you’ll see ridiculously breaking putts, or in some cases, chipping over the bunker.
No. 17, 347 yards, Par 4 – This is the other par 4 where length is key for an eagle. Like No. 5, 2.8 eagles have been posted here over the previous five years. While the fairway is wider for layups and narrower to get access to the green, the danger around the green is minimal and long-ball hitters almost always go for the green.
No. 18, 591 yards, Par 5 – An average of three eagles have been scored here over the last five years. While it is reachable in two for longer hitters despite playing up hill, there is a lot of trouble surrounding the green. There is a creek dividing two fairways for the second shot and runs along the right side of the green. There are also three bunkers surrounding it and the green isn’t easy. Most players lay up, but again, the longer hitters will get greedy if they bomb a drive.
So, it’s pretty simple, there are six holes for the potential of realistic eagles (not required to hole out). However, you need the longer hitters for this.
At the same time, we still want players who will make the cut.
Daniel Berger $8,000 – Berger’s last six tournaments are T10, CUT, 2nd, T10, T24 and T10. He’s 15th in driving distance and 17th in birdie or better percentage. So, yes, there is plenty of reasoning to use him outside of his great fortune to making a double eagle last week.
James Hahn $6,500 – Hahn hasn’t missed a cut this calendar year, and he’s playing his first PGA Tour event since this victory at the Northern Trust Open. He’s tied for 38th in driving distance and 61st in birdie or better percentage, which isn’t too shabby, and he’s solid value. Hahn also has four eagles in his last three tournaments, which came at Northern, the AT&T National Pro-Am and the Farmers Insurance Open. Only one hole at each course has a realistic hole to eagle, so he’s been particularly taking advantage during his great run the last few months.
Matt Jones $8,400 – While Jones is only 69th in driving distance (still not too bad at 292.2 yards), he was 41st last year, and his stats are somewhat low because he’ll often tee off with fairway woods or irons on holes that don’t present risk-reward opportunities. Essentially, he’s aggressive and will take advantage of the par 5s and short par 4s. He’s seventh on the birdie or better percentage list, he’s made his last nine cuts and four of those finishes were in the top 14. He also placed third last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Jason Kokrak $8,500 – Kokrak is on a terror with a T6 and T7 for the last two weeks. He’s crushing the ball off the tee at 303.5 yards (T13) and is 36th in birdie or better percentage. Ride the momentum.
Justin Thomas $7,700 – Another young gun who is having a stellar season. While he’s missed two of his last 10 cuts (by two shots each), Thomas has four top 10s in that stretch, is 27th in driving distance and 36th in birdie or better percentage.
Jimmy Walker $10,800 – The No. 1 player in the FedEx Cup Standings. He hasn’t missed a cut all season and is somewhat underpriced considering how cold he’s running in the eagles department for being an aggressive player. Walker is 19th in driving distance and second in birdie or better percentage and has barely missed several eagle putts this season. This should turn around soon.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz