Course: TPC San Antonio
Yardage: 7,435 yards – Par 72
2012: Ben Curtis
2013: Martin Laird
2014: Steven Bowditch
2015: Jimmy Walker
2016: Charley Hoffman
Wesley Bryan came out of the pack on Sunday to become the first ever South Carolina born player to take home the tartan jacket and win the RBC Heritage. I had Kisner last week as my representative Gamecock and for a little bit it looked like he was going to pull it out, but he dropped one in the water and faded into the abyss. Among others, familiar names like Jason Dufner and Luke Donald had their chance, but Dufner didn’t make a birdie after the second hole, and Luke Donald put a ball out of bounds on that hole, costing him his chance at the tournament, finishing for a fifth time as runner-up at Harbourtown. We move forward from Hilton Head to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open at the TPC.
Overview: TPC San Antonio was built in 2010, designed by Greg Norman with Sergio acting as a player consultant. A much longer course than Harbourtown, most of the length at TPC is on the Par 3s and 5s. The Par 5s for the most part aren’t really reachable, so the best Valero Texas Open picks have a good wedge game to be able to make par on the 5s. The Par 3s are also long, with three of them being over 200 yards, so players who excel with longer irons or hybrids will have the advantage on those holes. The fairways and greens are not easy to hit here, so scrambling is another key stat players’ need to rank highly in this week. Birdies are always necessary to win in DFS, but they will be even more so this week because there will be bogeys handed out by this course.
The weather looks pretty good for scoring this week, but you never know if that wind will kick up. That tough Texas wind came with a fury in 2015, as only 10 players went under par compared to 54 going under in 2016. Only eight of the Top 50 players in the world are playing in the event, with Patrick Reed, ranked No. 15, as the highest ranked player in the field. Picking out the lower priced golfers will be tricky as you will be forced to pick between some lower ranked golfers to round out your roster.
Valero Texas Open Picks
Charley Hoffman ($10,700): Hoffman occasionally doesn’t show up at tournaments, as evidenced at the RBC last week, in which he was cut and finished 112th. Charley is the reigning champion here, so his play last week doesn’t really concern me. My lack of concern is even more justified when you look at how he bounces back from his missed cuts. He has now finished outside of the Top 100 four times this year. The first cut he missed, he came back with a 54th place finish at the Farmers. After getting cut at the Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, he came back with a fourth place finish at the Genesis Open. Then after getting cut at the Valspar, he bounced back at with a runner-up finish at Bay Hill. All three of these times he bounced back it wasn’t just his next event, it was also the very next week. Now pair that ability to bounce back with the fact that this is historically his best course on tour.
Luke Donald ($8,700): If not for making a double bogey on the second hole of his final round, Luke could have been coming off his first victory since 2012. He didn’t, though, he knocked his drive out of bounds on the easiest hole all week. I won’t hold that against him, though, and I think he will continue his solid play into this week. Yes, this is a long course, but Luke Donald proved you don’t have to hit it long to succeed in this game, when he held the No. 1 rank in the world for a good chunk of 2011 and 2012. His short game makes up for the distance he lacks. He gains almost a stroke a round on the field in putting (4th on Tour), and is 35th in scrambling. Luke is an underrated ball striker; he ranks 36th in birdie or better percentage from 150-175 yards, which is better than notables such as Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Martin Kaymer, Ryan Moore and Sergio Garcia.
Tony Finau: ($8,400): Tony is quietly becoming one of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour. When he makes the cut at an event he will at least hang around and remain relevant. His worst finish when making the cut is 34th this season, and he’s only missed two cuts in nine events. He should be able to shorten the course for himself as he averages a little over 306 per drive. What you wouldn’t expect is that he’s accurate as well. He ranks 36th in good drive percentage, meaning that he is bombing it, and still getting a good look at the green most of the time whether it hits the fairway or not. I’m a bit worried about his putting as he loses strokes on average, but the shorter course he will have should help him make that difference up.
Ollie Schniederjans ($8,200): Another coulda woulda shoulda from last week. Schniederjans got hot on the front nine on Sunday to put himself in contention. He didn’t close well but I’ll take him for the consistency that he displayed all week with four rounds under 70. Schniederjans is a heck of a ball striker and can easily have more sides of 31 if his putter heats up. He has now finished in the Top 10 three times this year. He has already gained some valuable experience on Sundays this year, and will soon be ready to take the next step.
Sam Saunders ($7,000): Saunders is proving to everyone that he belongs here, and is trying to make a name for himself beyond just being “Arnie’s grandson.” He’s had three straight Top 20s, capped with a T-11 this past week at Harbourtown including nine birdies on Sunday! Birdies are king in this game, and Saunders can give them to you in spades. He ranks 46th on Tour in birdies, and most of those birdies are coming as of recent. He hits it great off the tee and is above average in one-putt percentage, he just needs to stay away from 3-putting to keep his advantage. He’s the hottest player at this price range, and he’s got the same blood as the most iconic man in our sport. He’s ready to become a Tour regular, and possibly start adding trophies to the family mantle.
Daniel Summerhays ($7,000): I’m taking a course horse at the top in Hoffman and one at the bottom of the price range in Summerhays. He’s been painfully average all year, but Summerhays just gets it done year after year at this event. He hasn’t missed a cut since 2011 here, and his last four finishes he finished T-7, T-2, T-4 and T-13. He is one of the best on Tour when it comes to 3-putt avoidance. He is pretty average when it comes to one-putt percentage but always seems to rise to the occasion each year in San Antonio.
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