Coop’s Valero Texas Open Preview
Welcome to carnage week presented to you by the TPC at San Antonio (TPCSA) also known as the Oaks. Over the past three years the TPCSA has thrown multiple obstacles at the DFS community making it one of the most tilting tournaments each year with low 6/6 rates. Last year we saw a 12% 6/6 rate while the previous year was 5% and while I could not find an exact 6/6 rate for three years ago I can guarantee you it was low based off the chatter in the RG golf forum. There are three reasons why this tournament has produced so much carnage and the first is the weather has wreaked havoc. It’s not uncommon to see high winds and three years ago it introduced the importance of monitoring the weather as the high winds destroyed one entire side of the field as they faced much worse conditions. Second, TPCSA is a very challenging course with no wind. Finally, we have a full field of 156 golfers which means up to 86 players may miss the cut and with a weaker field you will see higher ownership on volatile players who are suspect to missing the cut while lower owned players slip through and make the cut. Last year we saw Kevin Chappell break through with his first tour victory while Charley Hoffman and Jimmy Walker were the winners the previous two years. Winning score has been around -12 and we usually see anywhere from 3-10 players break away from the majority of the field as most scores fall within the Even to -6 range. It would also not be fair to the TPCSA if I did not mention the infamous 16 scored on the par 4 9th hole in 2011 by one of the most tilting golfers when it comes to DFS.
TPC San Antonio Course
This week the players will be facing a long golf course as we have a par 72 playing at around 7435 yards that plays with the conventional amount of par 3’s, 4,s and 5’s. What makes this course exciting from a DFS perspective is that four of the last five holes play as the easiest overall and provide great scoring opportunities. This will make the cut sweat and the fourth round very interesting as we could see changes in the cut and the leaderboard. The greens at TPCSA are bermuda that play at average speed and are of average size and won’t be the biggest obstacle this week. Getting the ball into the fairway and on the green is the challenge this week as they are both some of the most difficult to hit on tour. Three of the four par 3’s play over 200 yards while the easiest is the 17th which provided 82 birdies last year which is a high amount for any par 3. The par 3 third hole is another birdie opportunity as it provided more birdies last year than seven of the ten par 4’s but be careful as it also accounted for the most double bogeys or worse of the par 3’s at 19. The par 4’s offer a nice blend this week as four of the ten are over 450 yards and par is a great score on them. Holes 1, 3, and 9 are the difficult par 4’s as they all played at 4.2 strokes or higher last year and accounted for anywhere from 19-26 double bogeys or others. On the other end there are also two par 4’s that play under 400 yards that are must birdie holes. Hole 17 accounted for more birdies than all but one par 5 and hole 5 wasn’t far behind two par 5’s in total birdies. These two par 4’s also will provide there share of eagles as they accounted for nine last year while the four par 5’s only yielded 14. Speaking of the par 5’s they are long, three of the four play over 600 yards and they all played under par. The 14th and 18th holes are the easiest two of the par 5’s and along with par 4 17th and the par 3 16th you can see why things can change quickly as you end the back nine. As you can tell don’t worry if your players get off to a slow start on the front nine as it plays much more difficult than the back nine.
Stats To Use This Week
You need to play solid golf in all aspects of your game to compete on difficult courses so strokes gained tee to green will be important this week. TPCSA is a long course so being long off the tee and producing accurate shots is needed as you will need to gain strokes off the tee this week. As mentioned above the greens are challenging to hit so I want players who are good at scrambling percentage this week. My last stat this week will be proximity 175-200 yards as the majority of the shots from the fairways will be coming from this distance. One last thing, I prefer good putters this week as the players who finish near the top of this tournament typically have a very good week gaining strokes putting.
Studs At The Top
There is no doubting that Sergio Garcia (12k) is the class of the field this week. Garcia played in the inaugural tournament at the TPCSA were he finished 45th but hasn’t returned until this year. Garcia enters this week fresh off his Masters cut but prior to that he had finishes of 16th, 4th, 7th, 33rd, 32nd and 1st. It will be interesting to see were the ownership on Garcia lands this week as he is in a similar position to Dustin Johnson last week. DJ ended up around 20% last week but I feel Garcia is a much better fit this week for the TPCSA than what DJ was at Harbour Town last week. Part of me wants to go in at a high ownership percentage on Garcia this week but then the other part says remember the variance in golf.
Like Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott (9.6k) is making his return to the TPCSA as he last appeared in 2011 were he finished 23rd after winning the tournament the prior year. This is a big tournament for Scott in my opinion as he currently is not qualified for the US Open. Scott is ranked 59th in the world golf rankings and you need to be in the top 60 on the cut off dates of May 21st and June 4th. A T5 finish this week will go a long way in getting Scott some cushion in order to secure his spot in the US Open. Scott has played solid golf over his last five tournaments making each cut with finishes as high as 13th and as low as 53rd. If Scott can have a solid week with his nemesis, the putter, he has the length and ball striking ability to post a T5 finish.
Course History Studs
Matt Kuchar (11.4k) is 6/6 in cuts made at the TPCSA over his career but he has only one T10 finish and his last two tournaments he has finished 40th and 42nd. Kuchar is priced up this week and I am not sure I see the upside in Kuchar this week as I would prefer to pay up for Garcia or down for Charley Hoffman. Kuchar should go low owned this week for the reasons I just mentioned and I really only have interest in him if the wind becomes an issue he he falls on the better side of the tee time draws.
Prior to his 40th place finish last year Charley Hoffman (10.9k) had been the dominant player at the TPCSA as his worse finish was 13th to go along with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and two 11th place finishes. The only question this week is are people willing to pay the price tag for Hoffman. I am sure Hoffman will be popular this week so you must decide if last years result was just a blimp on his resume or is it now going to be the more common result.
Once we leave the West coast my interest in playing Brendan Steele (8.9k) drops as I just don’t have much confidence in his game being consistent as the conditions provided by the courses don’t necessarily meet his game style. Steele will be a popular play this week and I will be passing on the former winner of this tournament. Steele doesn’t play par 5’s well and these are some of the tougher ones on tour plus his play around the green can be suspect at times. In addition Steele doesn’t have many rounds of golf in play over the last six weeks as he missed the cut at the Masters and he only played three days at the WGC Match Play.
Ryan Palmer (10.2k) has finished 6th, 4th and 6th over his last three tournaments at the TPCSA while his previous results were 56th, 15th, 32nd and missed cut. Palmer comes in this week off a poor finish at the RBC Heritage were he finished 76th and only managed to shoot one round under par. If you look at form leading into this tournament over the past three years you will notice Palmer is off his game this year compared to previous years. Palmer carries a hefty price tag this week which should lower his ownership but I don’t foresee a T10 finish for him this week.
If you are looking for consistency look no farther than William McGirt (7.2k) as he has made 5/6 cuts at the TPCSA with all of his finishes coming in between 31st and 40th. McGirt may be a solid cash game play but he doesn’t provide the upside I am looking for in gpp’s. McGirt disappointed last week at the RBC Heritage, a course that fits his game style, with a 70th place finish. I have little to no interest in McGirt at this point unless the wind becomes an issue and he lands on the right side of the draw.
Brian Gay (7.5k) has two T10 finishes at the TPCSA while he has missed only one cut in six appearances. Like McGirt last week, Gay was a disappointment finishing 70th. Gay finished 6th last year and he has no back to back great finishes at this tournament which will probably take me off him as they are rare for a player of his caliber.
Kevin Streelman (7.7k) is similar to McGirt in my mind as he will provide you with a solid floor but limited upside. Streelman has made all four cuts at the TPCSA finishing as high as 13th and as low as 53rd. Streelman has made the cut in eight of his last nine tournaments with two T10’s and no finish worse than 43rd. I may have a small amount of Streelman this week as there is always a chance he can T10 but I feel he will most likely finish 30th to 40th this week. When it comes to Streelman, Gay and McGirt if they can be had for low ownership I will play them but if they are going to be above 10-15% I will take my chances with other players as I feel the upside is limited for them.
Top Contenders My Four Favorite Plays This Week
One of the more popular plays this week will be Xander Schauffele (8.8k) as he enters his inaugural appearance at TPCSA off a 32nd place finish at the RBC Heritage. X man had been playing very good golf as over his last five tournaments he has finished between 9th and 18th minus the Masters were he placed 50th. What concerns me about X is his finishes are trending in the wrong direction over his last two tournaments. TPCSA should set up well for the X man as he is long off the tee but another caution flag is he prefers bentgrass over bermuda greens. At this point I am not sold on X this week like many others.
Luke List (10k) is close to getting than win that he has been chasing and this could be the week that he gets the job done. List has improved his short game this year to go along with his iron play but the big question with him is the putter. List will need to carry a hot putter in order to get the job done and he has shown glimpses of putting well this year. List has made his last nine cuts were he has three T10 finishes while his worse finish is a 26th minus the WGC match play. List hasn’t had great success at TPCSA as he has finished 29th, 46th and missed cut but he has never entered this tournament playing as well as he is now.
There is no doubt in my mind that Beau Hossler (8.1k) is on the verge of his first win on the PGA tour and headed toward being one of the many bright young stars in today’s game. I have come away extremely impressed with how Hossler handles himself on the golf course as he shows poise of someone ten years older than him. For me the 16th place finish for Hossler at the RBC Heritage was quite impressive as he showed he is now adapting and capable of playing well on courses that require game management. Hossler missed the cut at TPCSA last year and I am hoping that will keep a few more people off him this week.
Wildcards This Week
The defending champion of this tournament is Kevin Chappell (9.3k) and he is quite the interesting play this week. Chappell arrives fresh off two missed cuts at the Masters and the RBC Heritage while he WD from the WGC Match play during his previous tournament. Prior to the WGC Chappell was playing very good golf as he had three T10 finishes and placed no worse than 31st over six tournaments. One would think that if Chappell still had back issues which caused his WD at the WGC he would have either not played last week or someone would have noticed him favoring his back. Based on this I am summing his results up from poor play over the last two weeks. Chappell is now at a tournament he feels comfortable at as he has a 2nd and 4th in addition to his win last year over six appearances. I have no problem playing Chappell this week as he will be an underowned player who has the ability to generate solid results. Chappell was around 12% last week and would have been lower if not for the WD from Adam Hadwin. This week I am hoping Chappell comes in at 5-7%.
Jimmy Walker (8.2k) is fresh off a 20th place finish at the Masters and now returns to the TPCSA were he has had a mixed bag of success. Walker won this tournament in 2015 and also has finishes of 7th, 13th, 16th and 31st to go with three missed cuts. Walker is from Texas so he is familiar with windy conditions and if we get bad conditions he should be considered one of the favorites. I have no issues playing Walker this week but I don’t want to play a chalky one.
Ryan Moore (10.2k) should be a fairly popular play this week as he has two solid finishes of 18th and 8th at the TPCSA over his career. In addition Moore arrives playing solid golf with finishes of 16th, 28th and 5th over his last three tournaments. My biggest concern with Moore is his consistency over his career as he has been a up and down performer. Currently Moore appears to be a solid play and is someone I am considering as long as his ownership doesn’t get out of control.
JB Holmes (7.8k) is having a solid season but nothing spectacular and he is due for a good finish. Holmes has made his last five cuts but his best finish is 32nd while his worse finish is 60th and the majority of his results falls in the 40’s. The TPCSA is just what Holmes needs as it is a course that fits his game style and he has solid results over his career finishing 11th, 13th, 16th, 64th and a missed cut. I am hoping that the mediocre results that Holmes has posted plus some animosity toward him keeps his ownership down this week.
I could have put Brandt Snedeker (9k) in the section below but I decided on leaving him here as he is a better player than the ones listed below. Sneds came out of nowhere last week at the RBC Heritage to finish 23rd. I am sure Sneds will gain quite a bit ownership this week but if you look at his rounds last week his 64 in the second round far outpaced his other rounds of 70, 72, and 72.
Inflated Ownership Due To RBC Heritage
One of the best ways to be good at DFS golf is to be on players before they have there breakout perfomace(s) as they will have low ownership. Before clicking on any of the next four players ask yourself if you would have played them this week without there performance at the RBC Heritage last week. These players currently appear to be sexy because of there finish last week plus there course history and I can guarantee you if they would not have performed well there ownership would have been 2-5% this week verse the 8-10% now. I am not saying that these players are all bad plays but I am telling you it is not uncommon for players of this caliber to play well one week while having good course history at the next tournament and end up missing the cut. We will start off with Martin Laird (8k) who finished 32nd at the RBC Heritage last week as he added to his recent finishes of 26th, Missed Cut, 9th and 9th. Laird has played very good golf at TPCSA as he was the winner in 2014 and has finishes 18th, 50th and 9th to go with one missed cut. As long as the ownership doesn’t get to high on Laird this week I have no problem playing him as he the type of player who performs very well at certain courses and this is one of them.
When someone mentions the name Harris English (7.4k) you probably associate him with the small ball hitters or plodders who play on tour. Much to the surprise of many English is a big hitter as he averages over 300 yards on his drives. English finished 32nd at the RBC Heritage last week and over his last nine tournaments heading into last week he has been a boom or bust player. Within that span English has finishes of 5th, 22nd, 33rd, 8th and 11th to go along with four missed cuts. English is returning to TPCSA after a two year hiatus with previous finishes of 30th, 61st and 67th.
If you played Billy Horschel (9.1k) last week you are probably the type of DFS player who throws darts at a board with golfers names on them and he was one of your hits as he had missed five of his last six cuts. While the form for Horschel was not there until last week he has played TPCSA much like English has played his last nine tournaments as he has finishes of 3rd, 4th, 3rd to go with a 75th, 74th and two missed cuts. I have no interest in Horschel as he is well overpriced and is extremely volatile.
Brice Garnett (7.2k) is making his debut at the TPCSA this week and he arrives in good form. Garnett was a winner a few weeks ago at the Corales Puntacana Resort Championship and he finished 42nd at the RBC Heritage. Garnett has several missed cuts this year to go with his current hot streak and now could be a good time to jump on him. Garnett is a big hitter and TPCSA could be a course he plays well at. I don’t think Garnett will garner the attention that the three players above will see and if he can stay at sub 5% I will be interested.
Australians Love San Antonio
If you have read some of my previous blogs you may remember me mentioning how well Australians play in windy conditions. This is one of the reasons we have seen success from them at the TPCSA. I have interest in two Australians this week and the first is Aaron Baddeley (7.3k). Baddeley finished fifth last year and has one more T5 finish to go along with a 15th, 20th, 29th, and 67th while never missing a cut at TPCSA. Surprisingly, Baddeley enters this week in better than expected form as he has made his last six cuts with finishes as high as 14th and 26th. If I can get Baddeley at 2-3% field ownership and I can play him at 10% I will have interest and feel comfortable playing him.
The other Australian that I am interested in this week is Matt Jones (7.2k). Jones has made 5/6 cuts at TPCSA but he has yet to crack the T10 as his best finishes are 13th and 21st. I won’t have much overall ownership with Jones unless the winds are suppose to be really high as he doesn’t provide a huge amount of upside.
There are five other Australians in the field this week including Steven Bowditch who won this tournament in 2014 but I have no interest in any of them as they either don’t have good course history and or are not in good form. In case you are wondering the five players would be Bowditch, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy, and Greg Chalmers. (I left Adam Scott out of this section as I feel his talent level is much higher than any of the players listed in this section. I am aware he is from Australia and would be the eighth Australian if listed in this section).
I am not so sure that Grayson Murray (7.3k) will come in as a sneaky play this week with low ownership but I am hoping he doesn’t get above 7-10% so that I can play him. Murray will be making his debut at TPCSA this week and he arrives making only two of his last five cuts. When you look at the best results Murray has posted over his short career the majority have come on courses that are long and offer up birdies and eagles. The one concern I have with Murray is he hasn’t played great over his career in windy conditions.
Keith Mitchell (7.4k) graduated last fall from the web.com tour with high expectations as he was tearing up the courses with several T10 finishes. Unfortunately for Mitchell he started his PGA tour career with three missed cuts but since then he has gone on to make 9/10 of his last cuts. Recently Mitchell has been playing his best golf on tour as he finished 2nd at the Corales Puntacan Resort Championship followed by a 6th at the Houston Open. Mitchell is a big time hitter of the ball and those courses fit his game style well and I also feel the TPCSA should fit his game.
At the end of 2017 Harold Varner (6.6k) was a player that I was using often as he finished the season strong and that carried over through the beginning of the 2018 season. I have not played Varner at all in the 2018 calendar season as I feel the west coast swing courses don’t set up the best for his game as well as the last couple Florida courses. In addition I feel Varner is a better play in a weaker fields. Varner has missed his last two cuts but before that he had made five in a row with finishes of 38th-78th so he enters this week in ok form for his game. Varner should be playing with increased confidence this week as he has finished 40th and 9th in his two appearances at TPCSA. I feel Varner has just as good chances of competing well at this tournament as players like English and Horschel at lower ownership.
I feel confident that Nick Taylor (6.7k) will be a low owned player this week as he arrives at TPCSA in not very good form as he has missed his last four cuts and five of six. Playing Taylor this week is gutsy as he has had much better form leading into this tournament the previous two years. I am hoping that Taylor’s previous finishes of 22nd and 21st bring confidence back to his game this week and we see solid results this week.
Trey Mullinax (7.2k) will be making his debut at the TPCSA and his long ball hitting style should fit in well this week. Mullinax has made 6/7 of his last cuts and his last two tournaments have produced finishes of 22nd and 8th so he is arriving in solid form. Mullinax leads the PGA tour in driving distance this year which should prove to be a big advantage for him this week. I expect Mullinax to come in at a low ownership since he has not been playing a lot of golf plus this is his debut.
No doubt that Peter Uihlein (7.3k) has been one of the more frustrating players this year for me as I continue to play him at courses that I feel will match his game and he continues to disappoint. Uihlein started the year out with a solid 17th place finish at the Career Builder but since then his best finish in seven tournaments is a 26th with three missed cuts. So here we are again at TPCSA were Uihlein is at a course that I feel will fit his game. I am pretty sure Uihlein will go under the radar this week and with a weak field I like his chances to perform well.
I have been keeping my eye on Martin Kaymer (7.2k) over the last couple weeks as DK has been pricing him down compared to his talent ability and his ownership has been non existent. Kaymer is coming off an injury at the Honda Classic were he WD but this week will be his fourth tournament since his WD. What I like about Kaymer is he will stay low owned as he missed the cut at the Houston Open, finished 48th at the Masters and then followed that up with a 73rd at the RBC Heritage. Much like I said about Matthew Fitzpatrick last week, he has to much talent to continue playing subpar golf, I have the same exact feelings about Kaymer this week. Kaymer should stay low owned this week due to his recent performances and his missed cut in his only appearance at TPCSA and I want to take advantage of this before his ownership picks up after a good performance.
Another player who is making his debut at the TPCSA this week who should be able to use his long ball hitting skills is Tom Lovelady (7.1k). Lovelady ranks 11th on the PGA tour this year in driving distance. Lovelady has made three of his last four cuts with finishes of 68th, 5th and 17th heading into this week. Don’t be fooled by the 68th place finish at the Houston Open as it could have easily been much better if he didn’t shoot a 75 in round four. Lovelady will be low owned this week and makes for a nice play.
I feel pretty confident that Abraham Ancer (6.9k) will go overlooked this week and can be had at a low ownership. Ancer has played at TPCSA once and finished 42nd. I like Ancer this week because he has been playing great golf recently finishing 8th, 13th and 16th over his last three tournaments. Ancer should feel comfortable this week as he has played golf in Texas often during his high school and college days.
If you are looking for the best raw talent in the field at less than 1% ownership look no further than Joanquinn Niemann (6.9k). Niemann is making his professional debut this week and departs as the number one ranked amateur in the world. Niemann recently played in the Masters and missed the cut while he also played in the US Open last year missing the cut. So why would I play Niemann this week? He is competing in a weak field and this will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his game skills on a course that should set up well for him. Speaking of weak fields, he finished 30th as an amateur last year at the Greenbrier Classic showing that he can compete with the big boys on tour.
That’s all for this week, please make sure you take a look at the weather before making your teams this week and I will see you in two weeks (we won’t have DFS golf for the Zurich Classic) for the Wells Fargo Championship as it return to Charlotte NC this year. Thanks