Jeff’s Hardcore Core- Valero Texas Open

Jeff Bergerson
By Jeff Bergerson March 29, 2021 20:44

Jeff’s Hardcore Core- Valero Texas Open

Like many other tournaments last year, the 2020 version of the Valero Texas Open was axed because of the covid shutdown. It returns this year as the lead in to Augusta. You will remember in the last edition in 2019, Corey Conners went from Monday qualifier to winner of the event and then onto Augusta. This is the final chance for those who are not qualified for Augusta to do just that.  Dustin Johnson of course withdrew, which opens things up a bit this week.  Its always nerve racking for those of us who own guys who have already qualified for Augusta in the case they get off to a poor start.  The quit factor could be in full effect.  Best of luck this week Team FGI!

Jeff’s Strategy & Core Valero Texas Open-

TPC San Antonio is a little bit longer course (7,435), but also not very forgiving as the fairways are on the narrow side, so you can’t just bomb away and hope.  For that reason I am placing more of a premium on SG:OTT than I normally do.  A combination of length and accuracy is what is going to pay off the most this week.  Ideally we can identify guys who are great in SG:OTT and SG:APP. The greens will again be bermuda this week and they will be medium fast.  There is not nearly as much water or severe trouble overall compared to the last month of the Florida swing.

Wind will likely play a role this week.  In the past we have seen wind pick up and destroy tee time waves. It is far too early to look at weather, but I encourage you to watch it closely on Wednesday night. Of course I will send out my update email on Wednesday night with the most recent forecast and how I will be playing it.

Here are my comp courses-

#1 TPC Southwind (WGC St Jude). Longer track with narrow fairways and bermuda greens.

#2 Golf Club of Houston (Houston Open). Similar length (7,400 yards), with average width fairways and fast bermuda greens.

#3 Trinity Forest (ATT Byron Nelson). Similar length although more forgiving fairways. Also, features bermuda greens and is obviously located in Texas.

#4 Augusta (The Masters) We have seen them try and emulate Augusta with the set-up and shaved aprons to the greens.

#5 Torrey Pines (Farmers). Long course with narrower fairways. Crossover with names that have done well at both courses.

My FGI Model will look like this- 50% Current Form, 30% Key Stats, 10% Vegas, and 10% Course History.  Current Form is 10% Last 52 weeks, 50% Last 13 weeks, 25% Last 2, and 15% Last 1.  Statistics- 20% SG:T2G, 13% SG:OTT, 13% SG:APP, 20% SG:P, 9% Prox, 15% BOB%, 10% Scrambling.

Running extremely good lately, it took an unconsciously hot Matt Kuchar to dispose of Jordan Spieth at the WGC Match Play last week. Before that we saw four Top 15 finishes in five events for Spieth as he appears to have found what he has been missing the last two years. Obviously, Augusta will be on his mind and you have to like him there, but he has a runner-up finish in this event to his credit (2015) and even in 2019 when he was not in good form he took T30. I wish the odds were better this week, because I think he could get of the schneid this week with his first win since 2017. He has been doing it in all phases of the game lately (16th in SG:T2G, 5th in SG:APP, and 12th in SG:P. His off the tee game has never been his strength, but he has been overcoming it during this hot streak. 36%

Correy Conners came up short at the Match-play, but I am just going to chalk it up to inexperience with the format.  Prior to that he has been on fire with a 3rd at Arnold Palmer and 7th at The Players.  TPC San Antonio is the perfect fit for Conners game as he thrives in both the off the tee game (5th in SG:OTT his last 16 rounds) and in the approach game (6th in SG:APP). Staying on bermuda greens is also a big bonus for Conners who is .418 strokes better than other grass.  Yes, he will likely have plenty of owners having such good form and being the defending champ, but I am not sure it will be out of control (maybe 20%).  Easily stackable with another low $9k guy or you could pair him with Spieth as well.  38%

I have no idea why the last two editions of this event have been so bad for Ryan Palmer, because before 2018 he went T6, T4, T6 back to back to back here. Palmer is in good form coming into this week having narrowly lost to Jon Rahm in the match-play and then having a 4th at Tournament of Champions T2 at Farmers, and T17 at The Players already in 2021. Over his last 24 rounds he ranks 28th in SG:T2G, 25th in SG:APP, and 30th in SG:OTT. He is even putting well, which is not usually his forte (22nd in SG:P). Quite a bit of success at Torrey Pines over the years as well. 30%

Outside of a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass, Cameron Tringale has been locked in lately (T17 at Waste Management, T7 at Pebble Beach, T26 at Riviera, T31 at Bay Hill, and T13 at Honda). Over his last 24 rounds he ranks 7th in SG:T2G, 10th in SG:OTT, 26th in SG:P, and 23rd in SG:APP A mixed bag at this even over the last five years (2 missed cuts, a T40, T60, and T17 last year). Tringale has had success at other Texas courses, namely at the Houston Open where he has had three Top 10 finishes. His form is too good to ignore. 35%

A perfect 8 for 8 in made cuts for Brendan Steele in 2021, he is also perfect in made cuts here at Valero over the past 5 years (T42, T30, T62, T13, T8). In addition to the consistency Steele has also demonstrated some upside with a T4 at Sony and a T3 at Honda. Off the tee is where Steele excels (3rd in SG:OTT over his last 24 rounds). He has also been putting well lately as well (33rd in SG:P), which is a really nice combination. 35%

High on Cameron Davis for 2021 as I featured him in my Crystal Ball article, I was on a hard fade for him for the Florida stretch, which paid off as he missed two cuts and finished T33 at Honda. See, you have to play Davis at the right courses for his game. Once you involve harsh penalties for inaccuracy off the tee, then I discount him significantly. Those Florida courses were not a good fit for Davis. Not to say he will for sure do well this week, his game sets up so much better at TPC San Antonio. 5th in SG:OTT over his last 24 rounds and 3rd in SG:APP, he is doing exactly what I want him to do this week. Before the Florida swing he was hot finishing 31st in Sony, 3rd at American Express, T14 at Pebble Beach, and T43 at Riviera.32%

I wrote up Lanto Griffin as one of my outright picks this week because I felt his odds did not reflect his talent and I believe the same is true for his DK price.  He should easily be high $8k if not low $9k this week with this field.  Before Match Play he strung together a T7, T26, T22, T21, and T35, most of which were in fields that dwarf this one.  22nd  in SG:T2G, 24th in SG:OTT, 17th in SG:APP, and 16th in SG:P over his last 16 rounds reflect his terrific all around game. One of my favorite options for the price this week, 38%

A T8 in 2015, T13 in 2016, mc in 2017, and T8 in 2018 for Chris Kirk at Valero, before his downward slide began. He clearly has patched up his personal life and it has been showing on the course this year as he has made six of seven cuts and sported a T2 at Sony, T8 at Bay Hill, and T25 at PGA National. This is a nice course for Kirk’s game and statistically he has been strong in every area lately (3rd in SG:T2G, 36th in SG:P, 28th in SG:APP, and 26th in SG:OTT). 32%

For as well as Keegan Bradley has been playing lately, I am a little surprised at the price. A T30 at Honda, T29 at the Players, and T10 at Bay Hill was his Florida swing. Over his last 16 rounds he ranks 7th in SG:T2G, , 26th in SG:OTT, and 28th in SG:APP. His putting has just been bad, not horrific lately, so that is a bonus. He has had three made cuts in his last four appearances here with his best finish being a T9 in 2011. He fits really nicely into a balanced lineup and provides us some upside as well. 35%

Brendan Grace has not played here since 2017, but he played awfully well that year (T10) and the two years prior (T9 and T30). Grace has found a spark in his game after a horrible 2020 (after a win at the South African Open). He took T8 at the European DP World Champinship in Dubai to close out 2020 and then won in Puerto Rico this year. Given his history here and his solid form, he could produce value at a price of $7,800, with what should be lower ownership. 20%

Humbled by a difficult TPC Sawgrass (mc), Andrew Putnam had it rolling prior with six straight made cuts, which included a T7 at Waste Management, T5 at Puerto Rico, and T4 at Arnold Palmer. Putnam has three made cuts here over the last five years, including a T36 and T8 his last two. Not a symbol of ball striking greatness, he has obviously been better lately ranking 38th in SG:T2G. His strength lies in his short game, scrambling, and putting where he ranks 9th in SG:P over his last 24 rounds. He might slide lower under the radar since he has a mc next to his name in his last time out, but you need to factor in the course and field strength. 30%

After harping on how important strokes gained off the tee is this week, it would be difficult to not include the guy who ranks #1 in this field in SG:OTT over the last 16 rounds and that is Johnny Vegas. Typically I am not a Vegas owner, but his game has been decent lately including a runner- up in Puerto Rico, T30 at Honda, and T18 last week at Puntacana. Good form, good course fit, and a good price. 20%

A T9 last week at Puntacana to follow up a T33 at Honda, Sepp Straka has Top 5 finishes at Houston the last two years as well as a couple decent showings at Torrey Pines the last few years. Over his last 12 rounds he ranks 30th in SG:OTT and 44th in SG:APP, which is not earth shattering, but he has the potential to put up really high finishes as we saw last year when his ball striking is right. Straka is a high ceiling/low floor player that is perfect for GPP play. 18%

Here we go with another $7,300 Doug Ghim this week. A missed step at Honda, but he has put up many more solid finishes than poor finishes this year especially when you factor in his perpetual low $7k price. 29th at The Players, 36th at Arnold Palmer, 21st at Pebble, 37th at Farmers, and 5th at the American Express all smashed value. 18th in SG:T2G, 44th in SG:OTT, and 20th in SG:APP over his last 16 rounds. He is an uber talented young player getting his feet wet on Tour and eventually he will pop and we want to be on him. I didn’t feature him as a pick in my betting column, but I have put a couple bucks on an outright for him this week at 80-1. 18%

Harry Higgs interests me a little this week as he has been really good his last two events finishing T29 at The Players and then T19 at Honda. He gained strokes from T2G and in the approach game in 7 of his 8 rounds in those events. Over his last 12 rounds played he ranks 16th in SG:T2G and 2nd in SG:APP. Worth a cheap flyer. 15%

A couple missed cuts lately, but Matthew NeSmith also strung together three straight Top 25s at the Waste Management, Pebble Beach, and Genesis.  The Florida swing was not so kind to him, but I like the course fit a little bit more for him here.  11th in SG:T2G, 41st in SG:OTT, and 10th in SG:APP over his last 16 rounds.   15%

No casual fan would know who in the world Chase Sieffert is, but those of us who eat, sleep, and drink this stuff know how well he has been playing lately.  In his last three events played he has gone T15 (Puerto Rico), T3 (Honda), and T18 (Puntacana).  Now those are not fields strong enough to write home about, but neither is the one this week.  Not a bad cheap option.  13%

Don’t look now but Will Gordon has posted five straight made cuts. High on him for 2021, he has not had any big finishes, but that does not mean he is not capable of one.  Off the tee he ranks 7th over his last 16 rounds played.  Plus his putting has been sensational (7th in SG:P).  This will be his first appearance at TPC San Antonio, but I see it being a good fit for him. 18%

Three straight Top 25s for Roger Sloan, which probably means that he is primed for a missed cut, but I am hoping he will remain in form. Over those 12 rounds he is crushing it in the two areas I am targeting this week SG:OTT (16th) and SG:APP (12th). 14%

Spieth $10,700

Palmer $9,400

Tringale $9,300

Steele $9,100

C Davis $8,800

Griffin $8,700

Kirk $8,600

Bradley $8,400

Grace $7,800

Putnam $7,600

Vegas $7,400

Straka $7,300

Ghim $7,300

Higgs $7,100

NeSmith $7,100

Seiffert $7,100

Gordon $6,800

Sloan $6,700

Jeff Bergerson
By Jeff Bergerson March 29, 2021 20:44

Log In

Having trouble logging in?
Try logging in here

Our Partners