VALERO TEXAS OPEN - DRAFTKINGS PREVIEW

GENERAL COURSE INFORMATION:
PAR 72 COURSE
TOTAL DISTANCE = 7,435 YARDS (LONG COURSE)
VERY TOUGH TO HIT FAIRWAYS
PRETTY WEAK FIELD
TOP 70 AND TIES MAKE THE CUT

STATS TO FAVOR:
GIR (GREENS IN REGULATION)
STROKES GAINEDPUTTING
PAR 5 SCORING
APPROACH SHOT FROM 150-200
SCRAMBLING
GO FOR GREEN %

RBC HERITAGE ARTICLE RECAP:
After an incredible round on Sunday, Branden Grace came away victorious at the RBC Heritage. Luke Donald continued his excellent track record here, but once again came up just short. Bryson DeChambeau has really emerged and looks like he is the real deal. (I predicted his emergence in my article a few weeks ago before the Masters!)… From a DFS perspective, it was an okay week for me. Not as great as weeks past, but I still can not complain. Paul Casey was a huge let down. I had him in about 80% of my GPP lineups and my cash lineup and he missed the cut. The other 5 golfers in my cash lineup all made it, including Luke Donald who led the way to a green weekend. Paul Casey ruined the majority of my GPP lineups, so I unfortunately did not have any high finishes there. Reviewing my individual spotlight players from last week, the studs did okay aside from Casey. Branden Grace and Kuchar turned out to be the best plays of all of the high priced players. After that, I was spot on with my “Next Best” section, highlighting Luke Donald and Russell Knox as my two favorites in that price range. Donald and Knox both tied for second place. Reifers was said to be a boom or bust GPP option, and this week he busted. Ben Martin did okay for his price, but I expected more out of him. 3/4 of the value plays were great. Aaron Baddeley (9th place), Jerry Kelly, and David Toms (14th place) were all easily worth their price tag, while Sung Kang was the lone value play who missed the cut. Two weeks ago I hit big on the studs. This week I hit big on the mid-priced guys and value guys. Let’s keep the momentum rolling and hopefully click on all cylinders this week!

TOURNAMENT PREVIEW:
Last week was the first week in a while where we disregarded driving distance and really focused on the short, accurate players. I hope you didn’t get used to that because we are back in bomber territory this week! Make sure when doing research that you only look at data from 2010 and on. This tournament relocated to this course in 2010 so all data prior to 2010 at this tournament can be disregarded. While distance is important this week, I am more focused on GIR, among other stats. GIR has correlated very nicely with success here in past years. Jimmy Walker led the field last year in GIR % and won the tournament. That is just one example. Driving accuracy can be disregarded. The fairways are tough to hit in general, but missing fairways will not kill you here. A relatively unknown stat that is VERY IMPORTANT here, is the “Going for Green” stat. (Shout-out to fellow RotoGrinders blogger Josh Culp from Future of Fantasy for turning me onto this stat!) A player is said to “Go for Green” when he attempts to either drive the ball to the green on a par 4 (when reasonable) or when he goes for the green on his second shot of a par 5. This stat obviously correlates highly with driving distance because you would think only the guys who can truly bomb it will go for the green. However, this course produces a very high amount of eagles (particularly on the 14th hole). Since DraftKings gives you 8 points for an eagle, which is way too much in my opinion, we need to target players that have the best chance of scoring eagles on this course. That’s where the “Going for Green” stat comes into play, and why it is heavily weighted in my model this week. I will be looking at both the % frequency a player goes for green when it is a viable option and also that player’s conversion % of scoring birdie or better when going for green on that hole.

IMPORTANT COURSE HISTORY INFORMATION: (Based on course data since 2010)
Average winning score: -10
Average # of golfers to make the cut: 79
Average amount of DraftKings points per player per round played: 12.38 (does not include bonuses)

DK Pts Gained Above Average Per Round – I created this stat to give us a better alternative to the popular “Strokes gained” stat. While strokes gained is a very important stat when evaluating a golfer’s skill level, it does not help DFS players all that much. This stat is more oriented towards DFS scoring. If the average score for one round is 12.38 DraftKings Points, and Player X scores 16 points in his round, his DK Pts Gained Above Average will equal (16 – 12.38) = 3.62. To give you a frame of reference, a score over 2.00 would be considered very good. A score over 4.00 is considered elite.

I’m not going to get into too much detail about the formulas that I used or how the calculations were made, but if you are interested feel free to comment below or send me a message on Twitter.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH

THE STUDS

JIMMY WALKER – $11,200

S-Rank: 1 / O-Rank: 1
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 3.08
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 2.91

Course History:
2015 – 1st
2014 – 16th
2013 – 31st
2012 – MC
2011 – MC
2010 – 3rd

Recent Form:
4/7 – 29th at The Masters
3/31 – 19th at Shell Houston Open
3/3 – 6th at WGC Cadillac
2/25 – 43rd at Honda Classic
2/18 – MC at Northern Trust

Right when DraftKings released pricing and I saw that Jimmy Walker was the most expensive golfer, my first thought was that I was going to completely fade him this week. He is usually a guy that I rarely target, and I just couldn’t see myself paying top dollar for him. But after doing research, I realized how wrong I was. Jimmy Walker is without a doubt one of my favorite plays this week. He doesn’t have the consistent course history that I look for, but has proved that he can do really well here (as shown with his win last year and 3rd place in 2010). As I mentioned earlier, I am really high on the “Going For Green” stat this week. I took all of the data from each player this season and combined a stat showing the frequency players go for green and also how successful they are when going for it. Jimmy Walker was #1 on that list. He has gone for the green 73% of the time when it was a reasonable distance away, and of those times he converted a birdie or better in 70% of them. This course features four par 5’s and two very reachable par 4’s. Walker dominated par 5 scoring here last year and I look for him to do the same this year. On top of everything mentioned, Walker is a San Antonio resident and this is his hometown course. Fire him up with confidence in all formats this week.

PHIL MICKELSON – $9,900

S-Rank: 9 / O-Rank: 7
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 2.42
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 3.98

Course History:
2015 – 30th
2014 – 80th

Recent Form:
4/7 – MC at The Masters
3/31 – 13th at Shell Houston Open
3/3 – 5th at WGC Cadillac
2/25 – 37th at Honda Classic
2/11 – 2nd at Pebble Beach

After his epic collapse a few weeks ago, I expect Lefty to fly somewhat under the radar this week. Aside from his terrible back 9 on Friday (while the weather was horrible!), Phil has been lights out this year. His 3.98 DK Points gained above average for this season is the highest among any player in the field. Translation – He has been in better form this year than anyone else in the field. While his course history doesn’t look great at first glance, it is actually much better than you would think. His 80th place finish in 2014 was only because he withdrew from the tournament during his 3rd round. He pulled a muscle in his side and could not continue… but he was doing well before that happened. His 2.42 DK points above average at this course further proves he has done well here. A big reason as to why his DK scoring seems high relative to his placement… HE GOES FOR THE GREEN! When watching on tv, Phil seemingly goes for the green every chance he gets, and the data supports that. He ranks 6th in the field in my GFG weighted average. I expect Phil to be in contention this week while racking up an eagle or two. This could be a great week to play him in GPP’s while his ownership should be relatively low. (I’m projecting Walker and Hoffman to be the two chalk plays, which should make Mickelson’s ownership pretty low)

CHARLEY HOFFMAN – $9,600

S-Rank: 11 / O-Rank: 11
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 1.69
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 5.52

Course History:
2015 – 11th
2014 – 11th
2013 – 3rd
2012 – 13th
2011 – 2nd
2010 – 13th

Recent Form:
4/14 – 14th at RBC Heritage
4/7 – 29th at The Masters
3/31 – 33rd at Shell Houston Open
3/10 – 11th at Valspar
3/3 – 17th at WGC Cadillac

I’m going to keep my Charley Hoffman section short and sweet as he will most certainly be the chalk play of the week. One look at his course history here tells you everything you need to know. In 6 appearances he has never finished worse than 13th place. His 5.52 DK Points above average at this course is insanely high. Six years of data is by no means a small sample size either. He is also currently in arguably the best form of his career. In addition to that, Charley loves the state of Texas. I remember seeing a stat during the broadcast of the Shell Houston Open saying he has made 27 consecutive cuts while playing in Texas. That is absolutely remarkable, and I fully expect him to extend that streak. Usually I like to avoid having high ownership on the chalk plays in GPP, but this may be a week that you need to bite the bullet and play Charley. I am currently torn as to which two I want to play in my cash lineup out of Walker, Mickelson, and Hoffman. I will 100% have two of them in my cash lineup, but you can’t feasibly fit all three of them. Jimmy Walker and Phil are the better plays based on the stats this year, but if you want to go based on course history, Hoffman is your guy. Either way, they are my 1-2-3 plays this week.
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THE NEXT BEST

RYAN PALMER – $8,500

S-Rank: 19 / O-Rank: 18
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 1.93
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 2.91

Course History:
2015 – 6th
2014 – 56th
2013 – 15th
2012 – 32nd
2011 – MC
2010 – 9th

Recent Form:
4/14 – 71st at RBC Heritage
3/31 – 38th at Shell Houston Open
3/17 – 60th at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – 42nd at Valspar
2/25 – 26th at Honda Classic

Ryan Palmer is sandwiched in salary this week between two course horses in Brendan Steele ($8,800) and Daniel Summerhays ($8,300). For this reason, I expect his ownership to be relatively low and I am VERY high on him. Although his course history doesn’t quite measure up to Steele or Summerhays, it is nothing to be ashamed of either. He is 5 for 6 in making cuts here and he has three finishes inside the top 20. As for his current form, Palmer has played in 9 events so far in 2016 and has made the cut at every one of them. He hasn’t had any super high finishes recently, but he has proven in the past that he is more than capable of winning a tournament. As for his stats, Palmer is a bomber. The only players in the field with a higher average driving distance than him are J.B. Holmes and Jason Kokrak. He also ranks #2 behind Jimmy Walker in par 5 scoring. He ranks in the top 25 in both GIR and Go for Green %. I love his recent consistency and all signs in my model are pointing to Palmer having a great week. I think he’s an excellent play in all formats. He is my favorite contrarian / under the radar play on the board.

DANIEL SUMMERHAYS – $8,300

S-Rank: 20 / O-Rank: 20
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 0.81
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 2.23

Course History:
2015 – 4th
2014 – 2nd
2013 – 7th
2012 – 29th
2011 – MC

Recent Form:
4/14 – 51st at RBC Heritage
3/17 – MC at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – 22nd at Valspar
2/25 – 37th at Honda Classic
2/18 – MC at Northern Trust

Daniel Summerhays is right up there with Charley Hoffman in the Course Horse rankings. This guy has finished in the top 10 here each of the last 3 years! He is ranked high in most of the categories I believe to be important here, mainly Going for Green % and putting. He also stated last year that he loves playing at this course and that “if he could play at this course every week he would have a very high world ranking.” There are a lot of things to like about Summerhays this week. The downside – he’s not in great form and also is priced very high compared to his standard salary. Summerhays is usually priced in the $6,500-$7,000 range on Draftkings but has a huge boost this week at $8,300. If he was priced in his normal range, he would be my favorite play on the board. But at $8,300 I’m going to pick him with a little more caution. I think he is safe to play in all formats but I definitely won’t be going all in on him. I like him more as a GPP play than cash.

AARON BADDELEY – $7,400

S-Rank: 30 / O-Rank: 26
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 1.66
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 4.22

Course History:
2015 – 20th
2014 – 67th
2013 – 15th
2010 – 3rd

Recent Form:
4/14 – 9th at RBC Heritage
3/31 – MC at Houston Open
3/24 – 8th at Puerto Rico Open
3/17 – MC at Arnold Palmer
2/18 – 26th at Northern Trust

After a 9th place finish last week, Aaron Baddeley has graduated from the Value Play section to the Next Best! All joking aside, Baddeley came through big time for me last week as I had him in about 50% of my GPP lineups and his ownership all around was very low. I may not have him in that many this week, but I still think this is another great spot to play him. He has made the cut in all 4 of his appearances here, including a 3rd place finish in 2010. Overall this year he has flown under the radar, but he has been in great form. He has two top 10 finishes in his last 3 tournaments played. Based on my DK Points Gained above average stat, he ranks 15th for the season and 3rd based on Valero course history! (Relative to the field). Those are some big time numbers! He is not a bomber at all which will lead many people to ignore him this week, but he more than makes up for it on the green as he is the 4th ranked putter in the field. I’m not quite sure I would recommend picking Baddeley in cash or going all in on him because of his inconsistency, but I would not be at all surprised if he gets another top 10 finish. He is a great GPP play.

PATRICK RODGERS – $7,300

S-Rank: 32 / O-Rank: 31
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 0.19
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = N/A

Course History:
N/A – Has never played here before

Recent Form:
3/31 – MC at Houston Open
3/24 – 21st at Puerto Rico Open
3/17 – 20th at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – MC at Valspar
2/25 – MC at Honda Classic

Patrick Rodgers has not been very good this year and has never played at this course before. This pick is strictly based on his statistical course fit. Rodgers is a bomber (12th in driving distance). He also is ranked in the top 10 (relative to the field) in all of the following categories: GIR, Par 5 scoring, Go for Green %, Go for Green Birdie or Better Conversion %, and good drive %. Those are a lot of important stats to be performing so well in. None of his recent results really back up these numbers, but this course suits his game so well that I can’t ignore him. Just a few years ago he was ranked the top amateur golfer in the world so the skill is clearly there somewhere. I really have a feeling that this could be the week he breaks out and his ownership shouldn’t be too high. He’s definitely a little risky for my liking in cash, but just like Baddeley, I think he makes for an excellent GPP option.
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VALUE PLAYS

LUKE LIST – $6,900

S-Rank: 40 / O-Rank: 37
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 1.88
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 2.30

Course History:
2013 – 46th

Recent Form:
4/14 – 39th at RBC Heritage
3/31 – 27th at Houston Open
3/24 – 15th at Puerto Rico Open
3/10 – MC at Valspar
2/25 – 10th at Honda Classic

Luke List is another bomber who has quietly been having a really good season. He has made 5 of his last 6 cuts, with 3 of them being top 20 finishes. 2013 was the only year he played here and while 46th doesn’t seem like a great finish, he still put up a high amount of DraftKings Points due to the amount of birdies his length allows him to get. List ranks in the top 10 in driving distance and go for green %. He also ranks in the top 25 in Par 5 scoring, SG-T2G, and GIR. All are very important stats this week, and his high rankings in them leads me to believe he is in for a great week. These stats combined with his current form and his high potential to score an eagle makes him a nice play in all formats. His ownership will be low, especially in cash, but I honestly feel he is one of the safest <$7,000 plays on the board.

ANDREW LOUPE – $6,500

S-Rank: 53 / O-Rank: 49
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (2016 Season) = 2.51
DraftKings Pts Gained Above Average Per Round (Valero Texas Open History) = 2.07

Course History:
2015 – MC
2014 – 4th

Recent Form:
3/31 – 46th at Houston Open
3/17 – MC at Arnold Palmer
3/10 – MC at Valspar
2/25 – 14th at Honda Classic
2/18 – 63rd at Northern Trust

I am very curious to see what Andrew Loupe’s ownership will be. I HATE having high ownership on players priced below $8,000 because they are usually a huge risk and could ruin your entire week if they miss the cut. Here is why I believe Andrew Loupe will defy the odds this week: He has played this course the last two years. In 2014, he finished in 4th place, so clearly he is capable of doing well here. Last year he missed the cut, but that was due to an 80 shot on Round 1. This tournament last year was before my PGA DFS days, but from what I’ve read Round 1 at this tournament last year was the craziest wind ever and had DFS players panicking over the weather for the next two months! For this reason, I am going to take the 2015 info with a grain of salt and not knock Loupe for missing the cut. Aside from course history, Loupe is another guy who has quietly had a nice season. His 2.51 DK Points scored above average this year ranks 4th best in the field! Now Andrew Loupe is by no means the 4th best player in the field, but he is a fantastic DraftKings scorer due to his length and the amount of birdies and eagles he scores. Sung Kang is the only player in the field who has a higher amount of eagles scored per round than Loupe. As for specific stats, Loupe ranks in the top 10 in driving distance, go for green , and par 5 scoring. He is also an excellent putter. As I said earlier, I try my best to avoid having more than 50 ownership to guys in this price range, but I am making an exception this week for Loupe. I am buying into the data and even though he is only $6,500 and nobody is predicting him to do well at all, he will be one of my highest owned players this week. I think he is a dark horse to win this tournament.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: These guys can be considered Super Value Plays. I only recommend them in GPP and would not play them in more than a few lineups, but I think they are worth taking a flier on.

Hudson Swafford ($6,200) – Bomber who also excels at par 5 scoring. Should have opportunities for eagles this week. 35th place here last year.
Carlos Ortiz ($6,000) – 15th place last year in his only Valero Texas Open appearance. Another bomber who very frequently goes for the green.
Frank Lickliter II ($5,500) – Doesn’t excel in any of the important stats, but is 3/3 making the cut here. Wouldn’t shock me to see him make the cut.
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Top Performers at this Course in DraftKings Points Above Average Per Round – This stat will help you see who has the best course history here (Based on DraftKings scoring):
(Minimum 2 Appearances) – This is a pretty ugly list which is why I am not weighing course history this week nearly as much as I usually do.

Charley Hoffman ($9,600) – 5.52 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Appearances)
Chesson Hadley ($6,400) – 4.32 DK Pts AA/Rd – (2 Appearances)
Aaron Baddeley ($7,400) – 4.22 DK Pts AA/Rd – (4 Appearances)
Kevin Chappell ($9,100) – 3.98 DK Pts AA/Rd – (5 Appearances)
Chris Kirk ($9,000) – 3.95 DK Pts AA/Rd – (2 Appearances)
J.B. Holmes ($10,100) – 3.58 DK Pts AA/Rd – (4 Appearances)
Brice Garnett ($6,000) – 3.44 DK Pts AA/Rd – (2 Appearances)
Kevin Streelman ($8,000) – 3.30 DK Pts AA/Rd – (2 Appearances)
Ernie Els ($6,900) – 3.23 DK Pts AA/Rd – (2 Appearances)
Frank Lickliter II ($5,500) – 3.10 DK Pts AA/Rd – (3 Appearances)

Top Performers this Season in DraftKings Points Above Average Per Round – This stat will help you see which players are in the best form. (Min. 5 Tournaments Played):

Phil Mickelson ($9,900) – 3.98 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Tournaments)
Jimmy Walker ($11,200) – 3.08 DK Pts AA/Rd – (9 Tournaments)
Branden Grace ($10,900) – 2.80 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Tournaments)
Andrew Loupe ($6,500) – 2.51 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Tournaments)
Bryson DeChambeau ($9,800) – 2.46 DK Pts AA/Rd – (6 Tournaments)
Brooks Koepka ($10,400) – 2.25 DK Pts AA/Rd – (7 Tournaments)
J.B. Holmes ($10,100) – 2.19 DK Pts AA/Rd – (7 Tournaments)
Matt Kuchar ($10,700) – 2.17 DK Pts AA/Rd – (8 Tournaments)
Chez Reavie ($7,700) – 2.01 DK Pts AA/Rd – (10 Tournaments)
Ryan Palmer ($8,500) – 1.93 DK Pts AA/Rd – (9 Tournaments)
Luke List ($6,900) – 1.88 DK Pts AA/Rd – (11 Tournaments)
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OVERALL POWER RANKINGS FOR THE VALERO TEXAS OPEN:

1.) JIMMY WALKER
2.) PHIL MICKELSON
3.) CHARLEY HOFFMAN
4.) BRANDT SNEDEKER
5.) MATT KUCHAR
6.) J.B. HOLMES
7.) BRANDEN GRACE
8.) BROOKS KOEPKA
9.) KEVIN CHAPPELL
10.) RYAN PALMER
11.) ZACH JOHNSON
12.) JASON KOKRAK
13.) ANDREW LOUPE
14.) AARON BADDELEY
15.) LUKE LIST
16.) PATRICK REED
17.) BRYSON DECHAMBEAU
18.) BRENDAN STEELE
19.) WILLIAM MCGIRT
20.) DANIEL SUMMERHAYS
21.) CHRIS KIRK
22.) BILLY HORSCHEL
23.) SCOTT PINCKNEY
24.) JHONATTAN VEGAS
25.) CAMERON TRINGALE

Author: Michael Tamburri – DraftKings: @mtamburri922 – Twitter: mtamburri922

About the Author

Comments

  • JimKronlund

    Except for Rogers and Palmer you nailed my exact list… or vice versa

  • Tomfone

    Great stuff. Third article I’ve read from you, had success with the first two, keep it up!

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    Palmer is one of my favorite plays this week. He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of love and I think his ownership will be low. Rodgers is more of a boom or bust GPP option but I have a good feeling this could be one of his boom weeks. Good luck!

  • qatman

    How much do you think an eagle should be worth? I don’t have a problem with +8 for eagles, although +7 is probably a bit fairer. The real problem is the +18 for holes-in-one.

  • mtamburri922

    • Blogger of the Month

    @qatman – Couldn’t agree more regarding the hole in ones. I was doing great at the Masters until everyone with the hole in one players shot up the leaderboards. +8 for Eagles isn’t the worst, but I do think +7 would be better.

    Also, after doing further research, this course does not allow nearly as many eagles as I thought upon first glance. While I still think every stat I mentioned is equally as important, I’m putting a little extra emphasis on the bombers this week as they will have the best chance at scoring eagles on these long holes. Also, if the course remains wet, that will play to the bombers advantage.

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