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14D AGO

Tip of the Åberg: Watch for Ludvig to lead lineups at TPC San Antonio

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    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    The third-oldest PGA TOUR event takes center stage the week before the first major of the season. The Valero Texas Open, established in 1923, is surpassed by only the BMW Championship (1899) and the RBC Canadian Open (1903) as the longest-running PGA TOUR event.

    Since 2010, the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country has provided the backdrop to the early-spring tone setter. Defending champion Corey Conners, also the 2019 winner, highlights a full field of 156 players.

    The Oaks Course, opened in 2010, runs up and down through the trees and plays 7,435 yards to par 72. Difficult ball-striking conditions meet with the breezes of the Lone Star State creating a demanding test.

    The 36-hole cut reduces the field to the top 65 and ties before the final two rounds. The winner receives the final spot in the Masters field, if not otherwise exempt, plus $1.656 million from the $9.2 million purse and 500 FedExCup points.

    Here’s a look at the players I have circled for DFS purposes this week:

    DraftKings – Top of the board

    Rory McIlroy ($12,300): The precedent of winning the week before a major and then going on to win the major the following week has been set by the Ulsterman, but not at this time of year. It has taken the four-time major champion five starts to pick up his first top 20 of the season on TOUR with T19 at TPC Sawgrass. With Scottie Scheffler (not entered) on fire, he knows it’s time to turn up the heat.

    Hideki Matsuyama ($10,600): The second of two international superstars headlining the festivities this week, the 2021 Masters champion is in fantastic form as winter transitions into spring. The winner at Riviera Country Club, another tight, ball-striking venue, added a T12 at the demanding Bay Hill before a T6 at THE PLAYERS. The angle that sticks out for me this week is he is making his fourth consecutive appearance at the event. Nobody enters Masters week without a plan, and it’s obvious TPC San Antonio gives him the reps he needs before the first major.

    Makers or breakers

    Ludvig Åberg ($10,500): The second choice is familiar with golf in Texas as he teed it up for four years in Lubbock at Texas Tech. The Swede is also familiar with being around on the weekend. The last time he went home early was last July, the week before The Open Championship, at The Genesis Scottish Open. A demanding course tee to green falls into his areas of strength. Speaking the local language won’t hurt either.

    Matt Fitzpatrick ($9,700): When the breezes pick up on the weekend, I’ll lean on the Englishman to return to contention again. Placing fifth at THE PLAYERS in his last outing, his tee-to-green action is heating up at the right time.

    Jordan Spieth ($9,500): Please keep arms and legs inside the cart at all times. A disqualification and a pair of cuts missed in three of his last four starts make his T6 in Phoenix seem forever ago. Never a dull moment with the 2021 champion, he returns for the first time since 2022 (T35) and will look to add to his three top-10 paydays from his last five starts, all T35 or better. I know he will be ready next week.

    Corey Conners ($9,400): The two-time winner, twice in the last four editions, should be a very popular choice this week. Entering his playground off his two best finishes of the season, it’s either saddle up or ride in a different direction.

    Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200): After winning in Dubai and running T10 at Riviera, the Florida Swing cooled the Englishman. Making his debut in San Antonio, the familiar grounds of Bay Hill (MC) and TPC Sawgrass (T35) did not produce the desired effect. Looking for his first TOUR victory, the Valero Texas Open has crowned six first-time winners since 2010.

    Rickie Fowler ($8,000): After already qualifying for the Masters, a quiet winter/early spring isn’t terribly surprising. Without a top-25 payday to his name in 2024, I’ll look below for hotter players in this price range.

    Lineup savers

    Charley Hoffman ($6,400): There’s no explanation for the course historians, but the 2016 winner has also collected second three times. He’s the all-time money leader in the event and already cashed second in Phoenix this season.

    Billy Horschel ($8,900): Rolling into town in red-hot form, the Florida native has cashed T12 or better in three of his last four on TOUR. Finishing T11 or better in four of six visits from 2013-18, he missed the cut in the 2019 edition and hasn’t returned until now. Interesting.

    Harris English ($8,300): The last time he didn’t make the weekend, he was in line at customs returning home from The Open Championship. In eight starts in 2024, he’s cashed T21 or better, including his last four. Knocking the rust off after taking two weeks off, he’s already in the field at Augusta National.

    Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,900): Closing his Florida Swing with T13 at THE PLAYERS followed by T9 at Valspar, the South African continues his excellent 2024. Returning to the Oaks Course after T28 last season, he will look to keep his streak going of T28 or better in five of his last seven starts.

    Mark Hubbard ($7,000): Taking all six guys to the weekend has proven difficult for me, so I’ll lean on nine cuts made in a row turning into 10. Sitting 27th in SG: Approach the Green will come in handy this week.

    Matt Kuchar ($6,700): Time for another edition of course form vs. current form. The veteran has filled his boots with everything but the trophy on this layout. Never missing from 11 starts, he’s cashed T3-T2-T12-T7 in his last four visits. Missing six of eight cuts to start 2024, his best paycheck is T39.

    Jacob Bridgeman ($6,000): Posting T28 or better in three of his last four on TOUR, T21 last week in Houston is the best of the bunch. Keep it going, youngster.

    Aaron Baddeley ($5,900): Cashing in six of his last eight on TOUR, the Australian has posted eight of nine (never missing the cut) at T30 or better on the Oaks Course.

    The lineup

    Here’s a look at how I would style a six-man lineup for this week’s event while staying below the $50,000 salary cap:

    • Ludvig Åberg ($10,500)
    • Corey Conners ($9,400)
    • Alex Noren ($8,700)
    • Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,900)
    • Mark Hubbard ($7,000)
    • Charley Hoffman ($6,400)

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