Bailey’s 2019 Valero Texas Open Matchup Bets: Finau vs. Fowler, Niemann vs. Walker, More
Jasen Vinlove, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tony Finau
I’m not much of a longshot bettor when it comes to the PGA tour, so I tend to focus on head-to-head matchups instead.
The goal of this piece is to provide you with quick, actionable and easily digestible information, to help both of us make informed decisions on the head-to-head bets we place.
So, each week I’ll be using the golf metrics in the FantasyLabs Player Models, along with other golf metrics in search of potential exploitable matchups.
I’ve decided to redo my matchup betting process this season. For starters, much less volume. Volume betting head-to-heads in a high-variance sport like golf isn’t going to be +EV in the long run.
Instead, I’ll focus on narrowing down the matchups to one-to-five of my favorite bets in a given week.
Let’s dive in!
All odds as of 12:00 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Tony Finau over Rickie Fowler (+100)
I’m particularly high on Finau this week, which would explain why I’m betting him in two head-to-heads at this tournament. TPC San Antonio is a lengthy course, and while Fowler certainly isn’t short off the tee (300.1-yard Long-Term Driving Distance), Finau is a bit longer, sporting a 313.6-yard LT DD.
Additionally, most of the birdie opportunities at this course will come from the par 5s since all four of them have historically had birdie rates above 19%, per Fantasy National.
This is where Finau has a slight advantage, averaging -5.3 adjusted strokes on par 5s, compared to -4.8 for Rickie over the past 75 weeks. Albeit a slight edge, it’ still an edge.
Finau is also in better form than Rickie, as he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and first in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee over his past 50 rounds, compared to 17th and 35th for Rickie.
At even money, I like the value on Finau. I wouldn’t bet this worse than -105.
Tony Finau over Matt Kuchar (-125)
On a course where being long off the tee gives you an advantage, it seems appropriate to target a bomber like Finau over Kuchar, who has a 289.1-yard LT DD. Finau’s Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) exceeds Kuchar’s 68.9 LT Adj Rd Score by almost a full stroke.
Further, Finau’s -5.3 adjusted strokes on par 5s trounces Kuchar’s -4.4 adjusted strokes on them.
Diving in deeper into the par-5 metrics: All four of the par 5s on this course check in between 550 and 650 yards, which gives Finau another edge since he ranks 15th and first in par-5 efficiency on par 5s that are between 550-600 yards and 600-650 yards.
Meanwhile, Kuchar ranks 89th and 44th from such ranges, per Fantasy National.
Some short hitters have still shown success here, as has Kuchar, who hasn’t missed a cut here over the past seven years. Although, he’s finished 40th or worse in his past three appearances.
I wouldn’t bet this past -135.
Joaquin Niemann over Jimmy Walker (-110)
This matchup is a bit odd, considering there isn’t a single reason to back Walker unless you’re strictly looking at course history. He won here in 2015, along with finishing fourth in 2018 and 13th in 2017.
While Walker’s approach numbers were solid in those outings, he also gained 4.4 strokes or more just from putting. In his 2015 win, he gained 10.3 strokes putting. While Walker has been a good putter throughout his career, those numbers aren’t sustainable.
In Walker’s past 50 rounds he ranks 71st in Strokes Gained: Putting, and his past 24 rounds he ranks 113th. Additionally, he’s been awful over his past 50 rounds, ranking 91st in Strokes Gained: Approach and 107th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
Over Niemann’s past 50 rounds, he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach and sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He also has the advantage in various FantasyLabs metrics:
- Adjusted Rd Score: 69.7 vs. 70.2
- Driving Distance: 306.6 vs. 298.6
- Eagles per tournament: 0.5 vs. 0.2
- Birdies per tournament: 13.7 vs. 12.2
- Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -0.6 vs. +2.0
- Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -4.0 vs. -2.7
If Walker somehow catches fire despite finishing 44th or worse in every tournament in 2019 then so be it. I’d bet this down to -130.
Note: Strokes Gained data via Fantasy National