Remember the Alamo! That is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear San Antonio.
After that, it’s REMEMBER THE 2015 VALERO! This was the year that winds wrecked havoc on the field. It wasn’t the entire field, though, there was a distinct tee-time advantage. The Thursday AM wave averaged 78.61 while the PM wave averaged 74.86, nearly a FOUR SHOT SWING! They gave back 1.5 shots on Friday, but the damage had already been done. This is the type of carnage that can take place in Texas events. Luckily, the current forecast does not look too crazy, but keep an eye out, for sure.
Weather aside, this week’s course (AT&T Oaks Course @ TPC San Antonio) is an extremely difficult Greg Norman Design. It’s a tree-lined course with plenty of native rocks and such surrounding the fairways if you get too wild. That makes it much tougher to simply recover from poor tee shots. You should see plenty of “tee shot to native area… Penalty Drop” this week on Shot Tracker. Most of the tree-lined courses on TOUR are on the shorter side of the spectrum but this week’s layout checks in over 7,400 yards. This puts a premium on strokes gained off-the-tee.
Short game metrics don’t show a very high correlation to past success at TPC San Antonio, so I will be sticking to the ball-striking stats this week, meaning golfers like Ryan Palmer, Kevin Chappell, Luke List, and Byeong Hun An are back on my radar.
There are five par 4s on the scorecard that are 410 yards or less, so golfers that thrive on shorter par 4s should be given a boost (Brooks, Horschel, Summerhays, Moore, Palmer, Na). As for the par 5s, there is typically only one that is reachable by more than half of the field (#14) while only the longest of hitters will take a crack of going for the green on the other three.
Looking for correlated events/courses, the five that popped the most were: Doral, The Masters, WGC Bridgestone, TOUR Championship, and the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for more tournament history, angles, and golfer quotes.
Players to Watch
Charley Hoffman… His track record at this course includes a gold medal, silver medal, and a bronze medal, in addition to four other top 15s. There is clearly something about the area that Charley likes since he posted top 15s in three of his four Valero starts before TPC San Antonio even hosted the event. He had a Masters hangover last week, but he should be right back in contention this week, at least for the first two or three days.
Brendan Steele… Picked up his first PGA TOUR title here at TPC San Antonio (2011). The wind was really howling that week, but since then his performance in the wind has been less-than-stellar. He’s proven that it wasn’t a one-hit wonder here, though, collecting three more top 15s in five return visits. Much like Hoffman, his off-the-tee game is his biggest strength, which is beyond crucial here on the AT&T Oaks Course.
Daniel Summerhays… He’s not going to win any awards for best form entering the week, but his track record at this course speaks for itself. Two years ago he said this about the course, “If I could play every event at the Valero Texas Open, in TPC San Antonio, I’d have a pretty high World Ranking because it seems to be pretty good to me.” His last four finishes here are: T13-T4-T2-T7, making him a good option despite the ho-hum current form.
Harold Varner III… HV3 has a huge fan club and I would say I was a part of it for a while, but we’ve grown apart. I’m jumping back in because this is the first time he’s cracked my rankings in quite some time. If he pops on my list, then I’m guessing he’s going to get a lot of love across the industry. The course looks like a good fit, but I should remind people he still hasn’t led or co-led on the PGA TOUR after ANY ROUND. Perhaps that will change this week.
Beau Hossler… While Curtis Luck may get the lions share of attention in terms of youngsters this week, Hossler is the guy I want to target in Texas. The Austin resident is just 2-for-4 this season as he tries to play his way into PGA TOUR status. However, both of his MCs were on the number and his game looks steady overall. Has nothing better than T29 in eight career starts, but I’m going to say he picks up his first top 25 this week. IF you play in a deep, season-long league where the free agent pool is thin, consider a speculative add on Hossler, because his upside is real big if he can just manage to earn Special Temporary Membership.
Martin Laird… When you have mid-to-long approaches and firm greens like we often see here, it pays to have a high ball flight. That is something Laird prides himself on, so it’s no surprise to see he’s won here (2013) and also finished T9 (2011). With four top 10s already this season, we know his game is still there and I won’t be surprised if he flings his name into the mix this week.
Byeong Hun An… Finished T33 at the Masters despite three-putting SEVEN times. That sums his game up well right now, great tee-to-green game but gives it all back on the greens. There are only a handful of golfers more talented in this week’s field. I do think An figures out these American green surfaces sooner rather than later. Extremely high upside this week.
Tony Finau… Finau on bermuda…. pass, right? That combination is usually an auto-fade as Finau typically struggles on bermudagrass greens but his form is so juicy right now, I am currently on the fence. Consider him a lively GPP play, but not someone I fully trust. He lost 4.9 strokes putting the only other time he played this event, three-putting four times on the week.
Scott Piercy … Look no further if you want a R1-2 FanDuel option. Piercy is the King of fast starts, but he usually fades over the weekend.
Jason Kokrak… Someone that should roast this course as long as he can avoid the big numbers. That’s a big if, but he got a big boost for the upside alone. There are double bogeys lurking everywhere around TPC San Antonio so plays like Kokrak, List, Brooks, Ollie, Lovemark, and Finau should be considered GPP only. Boom-or-Bust, folks.
My Top 25 for the 2017 Valero Texas Open
1. Charley Hoffman
2. Brendan Steele
3. Matt Kuchar
4. Jason Kokrak
5. Luke List
6. Kevin Chappell
7. Ryan Palmer
8. Byeong Hun An
9. Harold Varner III
10. Jamie Lovemark
11. Keegan Bradley
12. Tony Finau
13. Ryan Moore
14. Martin Laird
15. Daniel Summerhays
16. Brooks Koepka
17. Beau Hossler
18. Jimmy Walker
19. Billy Horschel
20. Ollie Schniederjans
21. John Huh
22. J.T. Poston
23. Scott Piercy
24. Cameron Percy
25. J.J. Spaun