DraftKings preview: Valero Texas Open
March 30, 2021
By Reid Fowler, PGATOUR.COM
- March 30, 2021
Daily Fantasy preview for the Valero Texas Open
The PGA TOUR will have one more week before heading to Augusta National and will stay in the state of Texas for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. The Oaks Course is a par 72, measuring 7,494 yards and will be on Champion Bermuda overseed with Poa Trivialis greens. This week is the last event that the winner gets an invite to the Masters Tournament. There are 144 players in the field (as of this article), and the top 65 and ties will make the cut.
The course is a stock par 72 with four par 5s, two of which measure over 600 yards. The course also has three par 3s over 200 yards and four par 4s between 450 to 500 yards. AT&T Oaks is a long course with treelined fairways that are hard to hit, registering a 58% fairways hit in regulation rate. This number is close to a 10% decrease compared to the TOUR average. The golfers’ approaches don’t get much easier, with the greens in regulation hit rate close to 11% less than the TOUR average. The rough isn’t thick, so wayward tee shots won’t be as penal as they were during the Florida Swing. Still, with Texas winds and large runoff areas around the greens, players need to find the putting surface to play well here.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Valero Texas Open never happened. The year previous, Corey Conners played his way into the tournament in a Monday Qualifier and punched his ticket to his second Masters Tournament by shooting back-to-back 66s on the weekend and breaking 70 in every round en route to his first PGA TOUR win. Even though this course bolsters tough-to-hit fairways and greens, scores can go low if there are calm conditions. Conners’ 20-under par in 2019 is eight strokes better than the average winning score over the previous five years (12-under).
Last week’s alternate event, The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, was very windy, and players coming from Mexico to Texas may have a slight advantage if the winds are up this week. Since 2012, only four out of 32 rounds (12.5%) have played in calm winds, with eight (25%) playing in very windy conditions. Even with four par 5s, past tournaments have recorded some of the lowest eagle and birdie rates on TOUR. When the winds blow, it becomes harder to hit these narrow fairways and then into the undulating greens. Make sure to check the forecast up until lineups lock.
This schedule slot will be the third year the Oaks Course is playing the week before the Masters Tournament; the previous two were in 2013 and 2019. Rostering players like Rickie Fowler (+8500, $8,100) or Brandt Snedeker (+30000, $6,600) could be an interesting angle to attack. Still, you shouldn’t only depend on narrative as there’s a reason why both Fowler and Snedeker are not in The Masters Tournament as of now — they’re not playing well.
GOLFERS TO CONSIDER
Tony Finau (+1300 to Win, $11,000 on DraftKings)
An early departure from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin meant an early arrival at the Oaks for the 13th-ranked player in the world. Finau’s game plays well on most courses, but here especially. A long, par 72 track that rewards ball-strikers should feel comfortable for Tony if he can get his short game in order. He’s been a little inconsistent with his driving accuracy of late, but he should know his way around this course with a third-place finish back in 2017. Finau is also one of the best wind players on TOUR, so if conditions get dicey, we should roll with the big guy. Abraham Ancer (+2200, $9,700) is also someone to consider. Ancer is not the longest hitter but has top finishes at most of the correlated courses (Waste Management Phoenix Open, The American Express, Shriners Hospital for Children Open) and is top 10 in accuracy Off-the-Tee over his previous 24 rounds. A great iron player, Ancer will need to rely on his current form with the approach and not what he’s done over his past two starts here, where he lost 9.5 strokes total.
Cameron Davis (+6000 to Win, $8,800 on DraftKings)
It was a rough go for the young Australian during the Florida Swing, but this is a course that should fit his game perfectly. Davis is long Off-the-Tee and has been a premier ball-striker since he’s been on TOUR. Over his previous 24 rounds, Davis ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and fifth in Off-the-Tee. His short game has kept him from consistent golf, but he should feel comfortable on a Texas-track, where the turf and wind conditions are similar to what he’s familiar with growing up in Australia. We’ve seen a strong correlation of Australian golfers doing well in Texas and here specifically. Players like Adam Scott, Steven Bowditch and Aaron Baddeley have either won or finished in the top five here, dating back to 2010.
Harold Varner III (+7000 to Win, $7,900 on DraftKings)
A top 20 at PGA National a couple of weeks ago is the type of current form you want to see coming into this week. Varner has made four straight cuts and is hitting it well Off-the-Tee, ranking 21st over the previous 24 rounds. His irons have been erratic recently, but over the longterm, he’s one of the best iron players on TOUR, ranking 26th over the past 50 rounds. He should capitalize on his prowess and power Off-the-Tee and lean on his ability to get it close, ranking 13th in overall approach proximity to the hole over the past 24 rounds. Don’t forget about Doug Ghim (+10000, $7,300) this week, either. A great showing at TPC Sawgrass a couple of weeks ago should warrant some consideration for the University of Texas standout. He’s struggled in windy conditions so far in his short career, but his familiarity with Texas golf, combined with his approach game right now, should be an equation for success, especially at this price.
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