The First Tee – Valero Texas Open by Adam Daly
With a Masters hangover, the RBC Heritage wasn’t necessarily the most exciting tournament, and certainly wasn’t for people trying to avoid the chalk – the $3 ownership leaderboard looked like this:
- Adam Hadwin (29.87%) – 80 DK points
- Jason Dufner (24.74%) – 87 DK points
- Kevin Kisner (24.63%) – 83 DK points
- Martin Kaymer (24.40%) – 78.50 DK points
- Pat Perez (23.24) – 52.00 DK points
13. Wesley Bryan (14.01%) – 125.50 DK points
Last week’s picks from the First Tee were adequate, finishing with a combined 194.5 points for $23,700 of salary. Before diving into the Valero Texas Open, here’s what the Pros did last week:
Pro Results – Takeaways
Much like last week, looking at these results shows the risk of over-exposure when mass multi-entering. In FlavorFlav and SaahilSud’s case, they were both above 50% on someone that missed the cut (Bill Haas), which ended their week early.
The best performance on the week in the $33 Dogleg came from the player with the lowest overall exposure, jae686; jae got 22 of 150 lineups through with 6/6, compared to a total of just 10 COMBINED from Saahil and FlavorFlav. That led to a top-25 in the Dogleg, but jetblackx found success in the higher-dollar entry even with only 3.33% of his MME entries hitting 6/6.
That (along with the difference in cash line and overall profit) is yet another example of why it makes sense to spend up when playing PGA DFS (or just DFS in general). That’s a point to hammer home every week – hitting 410.5 points on DraftKings would’ve profited $17 on a $33 entry, where it otherwise would’ve lost in the $3 and $12 SE.
With one of the weaker fields in the non-Swing Season portion of the year, the Valero Texas Open is a great week for some of the younger golfers on the Tour to show what they can do – some of the rookies this week include Rafael Campos who’s shown great form recently, Australian (and reigning U.S. Amateur champion) Curtis Luck, and Cody Gribble who won all the way back in October at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The Valero Texas Open is played at TPC San Antonio, and sits at a long 7,400 yards as a par-72. The event’s been played at TPC San Antonio for the last seven years, debuting the year after the Greg Norman-designed course first opened.
Length (and strokes gained: off the tee) will be impactful for any success this week, as the design Norman favoured included par-5s that are just kissing the 600-yard mark. Although the fairways are slightly narrow with native forest area surrounding them, driver will have to be used on every hole that’s not a par-3 due to the long distances.
If tee shots end up errant, they’ll either end up in some easy-to-escape fairway bunkers, water (on three holes), or the aforementioned native area. Kevin Na famously shot a 16 on the 9th hole after ending up in the thick wooded area, which although insane to consider, is always a possibility here. Savvy golfers will figure out the best route to chip out from, but with some of the younger players who don’t excel at course management yet, missing could be extra costly. The rough is almost a non-factor here, slightly thicker than at Augusta and Harbour Town, but nothing tough to contend with.
The Bermudagrass greens are of average speed (around 11’ on the stimpmeter), but although they’re around average size, only around 57% of greens are hit on this course in regulation. Part of that is from the tough spots golfers can find themselves in off the tee, but the other aspect is that the greens are sloped backwards on the fringe – if the approach shot doesn’t land in the right landing zone on the green, rolling off the fringe is a distinct possibility.
The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):
- Around the Green
Counting stats to focus on in order:
- Total Driving (this is a combination of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy)
- Greens in Regulation %
- Bogey Avoidance
- Birdie or Better %
Following up the second-tier RBC Heritage, the second-tier Texas Open isn’t much more exciting – few of the top-50 OWGR golfers will be in attendance, and the second-highest Vegas favourite this week is one Brooks Koepka. That should speak volumes of the quality of the field just on its own.
The wind can have a massive impact on this event as evidenced by 2015, when the cut ended up at a horrifying +7 after some very tough pre-cut weather. Last year’s +1 cut was closer to the norm, and the winning score that Charley Hoffman put up (-12) was fairly typical of this event since coming to San Antonio – it’s fluctuated between Steven Bowditch’s -8 (2014) and Adam Scott and Marty Laird’s matching -14s.
As of now, the weather seems to be holding well, but make sure to check back Wednesday to get a better read on AM/PM waves if necessary.
Brendan Steele ($9900): It’s no surprise that Blue Steele has won here before, as he’s typically one of the better golfers on Tour off the tee. This season he currently sits at 5th overall in Total Driving on the Tour (which is first in this field), and 44th in Strokes Gained:OTT. He’s a long hitter, currently averaging a big 300.2 yards with his driver, but he can get into trouble with his accuracy (64.35%) which has led to some big numbers from Steele in the past. Due to his stellar greens in regulation number (70.96%, 20th on Tour), Steele is a birdie-making machine and will be extra chalky this week, but he has the upside to put up a great DraftKings score even without winning.
Tony Finau ($8400): With his play off the tee, Finau has the ability to lap the field this week and put the event away by Friday. The big hitter is mostly known for just that, his big drives, but he’s actually an elite player on approach as well – 7th in GIR%, 35th in SG:Approach, Finau’s issue this week will be with the flat stick. He’s never been a great putter, but this season Finau has found even less success on the greens, losing 0.367 strokes to the field with putter in hand. The one factor going in his favour this week is that putting doesn’t correlate that strongly with finish positions on Bermudagrass (about 0.20 correlation, vs. 0.45 on Bentgrass). Like Steele, Finau has had some weight behind him this week in the DFS community and will be fairly highly owned.
Greg Owen ($6400): Although he’s been around since before the Earth was formed (turned pro in 1992), Greg Owen has been fantastic in every sense of the word this year in getting from tee to green. He’s T14 in Total Driving, has been absolutely nails in finding greens (73.06%, 8th on Tour), and has an outstanding birdie average of 4.25. Given how high the ownership will be on both Finau and Steele, using Greg Owen in a stars & scrubs format will help ease the ownership burden, with lots of upside to score well on DraftKings. Owen made the cut last year and finished T65, and in 2010 finished T41. His current form isn’t the prettiest, but if he can get a putt to drop he’ll be in great shape.
Just a small note here – I play one lineup, so every week I’m fading the full field minus six, just by virtue of only using one lineup. The Fade of the Week is thus chosen for expected value vs. expected ownership, NOT because they’re necessarily good or bad plays.
Patrick Reed ($9700): Picking Patrick Reed may seem like the easy out this week, as he should have lower ownership than expected from the 15th ranked golfer in the world, but Reed is a hard pass given both his form and his price tag. In his last five events – which includes two no-cut WGC events – Reed has missed two straight, and finished T38 at the Valspar. His showings both in Mexico (T61) and at the Match Play (T51) were subpar, and looking at his strokes gained by event paints a pretty bleak picture: Reed has only gained strokes on approach at two events (CareerBuilder and Pebble Beach, which don’t track all four rounds) and he’s lost at least 0.367 to the field ever y week since. He’s playing well off the tee, but struggling to get to the green, which bodes poorly for his chances in San Antonio.
You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey, and if there’s something you’d like to see change in this column my DMs are open! Good luck this week